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Ford Factory: 1916

Detroit (Highland Park) circa 1916. "Four o'clock shift, Ford Motor Company." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

Detroit (Highland Park) circa 1916. "Four o'clock shift, Ford Motor Company." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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It's entirely possible

that my great grandfather was in that crowd. He worked there at the time.

Old Shop, New Shop

The four-story building in the foreground is the southeast end of Albert Kahn's 867 foot-long Old Shop, built in 1909. This is where Ford opened his first assembly line operation in October 1913. The six-story building in the background is Kahn's New Shop, opened in 1918. Both buildings are important examples of Kahn's reinforced concrete framed factory buildings, which he first built for Packard (Building No. 10) in 1905. The whole idea of the multi-story factory was rendered obsolete with Kahn's next effort for Ford, the gigantic River Rouge Plant in Dearborn, finished in 1928. The Old Shop is now almost completely gone, replaced by a strip mall; the New Shop -- from what I've heard -- is used as a storage facility for the Henry Ford Museum.

Where's the pig's nose?

Just visible is a billboard advertising Finck's Detroit Special Overalls. Their memorable slogan read "They Wear Like A Pig's Nose." Finck's was later acquired by the well known Carhartt company, which still produces hard working clothing. An interesting article on the company can be read here.

Family photo?

I wonder if any members of my family are in this shot. My grandfather and two of his brothers were working there at that time. My grandfather worked at Ford's for 40 years (1914-1954).

Do The Math

The shopkeepers across the street from this factory must have done very well. Those thousands of guys working there were making $5 a day. In 1916, the average American family lived on less than $750 a year.

Things got better

Looks like they added two stories to match the original building (in the distance). So business must have been, how you say, good!

Still standing

This appears to be the Highland Park Model T plant at Woodward avenue and Manchester, designed by Albert Kahn. The power plant for this monster building can be seen at the Henry Ford Museum at Greenfield Village in Dearborn.

A crowd emerged

It appears that someone made the announcement that the owner of a black model T left their lights on.

Highland Park doesn't look like this anymore!

At first glance, I thought that might be one of Harry Bennett's goons or a representative of Henry Ford's Social Department under the Y on the roof. Probably just a worker taking a quick break though.

The view today

A Slight Correction

This is the Ford Highland Park Plant - actually located in Highland Park, an independent city completely surrounded by the City of Detroit. Detroit also surrounds the independent city of Hamtramck as well.

I thought he was a Pontiac man.

Ray Liotta worked for Ford? That's him just above the Shorpy watermark.


From Synder's Antique

To replace the rear window on that parked Model T Touring
Part Number Specifics Price

TK-1116 1914-16 Touring- Colonial
1914-16 $414.90 / ea.

The Model T originally sold for $850, without the top. With the top, the customer could add another $100 to the cost. Through mass production, by the mid 1920s, the cost of a new Model T was eventually reduced to $260.

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