Detroit Historical Museum
Wander the streets of “Old Detroit” (or at least an idealized version of them) in the basement of the 80,000-square-foot Detroit Historical Museum (5401 Woodward Ave., 313/833-1805, www.detroithistorical.org, 9:30 a.m.–3 p.m. Wed.–Fri., 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat., noon–5 p.m. Sun., $6 adults, $4 seniors 60 and over, $4 children 5–17).
You’ll trudge along irregular cobblestones that once lined city streets past re-creations of barber shops, grocery stores, and other vintage businesses. The display, which opened in 1951 and has been among the museum’s most popular, traces three periods of Detroit history (albeit a decidedly Eurocentric version of it).
The permanent exhibit “Frontiers to Factories” traces the city’s history from a trading post to an industrial giant, with a walk-in diorama from the 1750s, a railway station, and a mock, turn-of-the-20th-century exposition. Other highlights of the collection include the Glancy Train display, one of the world’s largest; special exhibits about Detroit’s leaders, symbols, and entertainment venues; and an exhibition simply named “Motor City,” which traces the history of the car, the city, and the people who changed the world when they came to work here.
The exhibit’s highlight is the “body drop,” a segment of a 1953 assembly line in which the outer shell of a later-model Cadillac is lowered from the ceiling onto an engine body set up on an eye-level platform. It was taken from the assembly line at the now-demolished Clark Street Cadillac plant.
by Laura Martone from Moon Michigan, 3rd Edition, © Avalon Travel