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Cadillac: 1908

Cadillac: 1908

Detroit circa 1908. "Cadillac Motor Car Company." Cradle of the tailfin. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Actually a pressed steel truck

The railway truck (bogie) under the NYC&HR box car is actually a Fox patent pressed steel truck. It was considered a modern heavy duty truck for the time period.

Given the size of the car it would be from the 1900 era. Earlier cars would have been shorter and narrower, note the two behind it. The earlier solid trucks of the 1860-70s would have been wood beam with pedestal journals.

Solid Frame Trucks

The bogies on that early New York Central & Hudson River (later New York Central) boxcar are ancient! Those are solid frame types that you saw mostly during the Civil War. Given the condition of the car, I'd bet that it's an old link and pin coupling type that was converted. I also don't expect it survived long, since the solid frame bogies were obsoleted around this time. They had a tendency to fracture and cause derailments.

Present Day New Center Area

I know where this is but would never have known it was the home of Cadillac. The Burroughs/Unisys and General Motors Buildings are also nearby.

My boss has a really cool painting of an orange streetcar passing in front of the Michigan Central Depot and when I commented that I liked it to a 50+ year-old co-worker all she said is "my husband would know what that building is" and of course I told her.

So much history is lost on my hometown/suburban inhabitants. Thanks Shorpy!

Standard of the World

Henry Leland's first Cadillac plant was at 450 Amsterdam near Cass Avenue. Leland had replaced Henry Ford as the head of the Henry Ford Automobile Company. Leland changed the name of the company to the Cadillac Motor Car Company.

The "ard Ave" seen on the station sign indicates the Woodward Avenue station on the Michigan Central Railroad tracks, which passed near the plant. Woodward is one block east of Cass and was a wider thoroughfare than Cass. Today's Amtrak station is nearby.

The plant burned down in April 1904 and was rebuilt in just 67 days. As mentioned, portions of the rebuilt plant survive.

I worked for Cadillac for twenty-nine years at the Clark Street and nearby Scotten Avenue facilities. My favorite early Cadillac Model name was the Osceola.

The Origin of Cadillac

How many "Shorpy-ers" know that the Cadillac Motor Company came out of the second failed attempt by Henry Ford to start Ford Motor Company?

Railroad Depot

The wooden platforms, baggage carts, and barely visible tip of a station sign indicate that this is the Michigan Central's Woodward Avenue station, 5.7 miles from its downtown Detroit terminal. This is the approximate location of the present-day Detroit Amtrak station.


built the plant in 1905 (before GM ownership). Cadillac left the plant in 1920 for the Clark Street plant in Southwest Detroit. Westcott paper has occupied the building since then.

Broken windows

Untended broken windows on the face of the building where such classy automobiles were made? Tsk, tsk.

Cadillac style

I'd harbored a secret wish to drive a Cadillac all my life. In 2006 my husband bought me a gently used CTS with all the bells and whistles. What a joy to drive. It makes me happy to see the building where this American icon of style and luxury was first fabricated. Thank you, Shorpy!

Get a horse!

A bit of irony that the only vehicle in sight (I do not count the rail cars) is a horse-drawn runabout.

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