Yesterday was Motown and Detroit music. Today, we give the world our final gift this year: the automobile.
Detroit isn’t called the Motor City for nothing. True, other cities (and countries – notably Europe) had autos before Detroit. But it was Detroit that took the automobile to a whole new level, bringing it to the masses, and changing life for Americans and the rest of the world.
Despite the Big 3’s current uphill battle to hang onto market share in the U.S., Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler are forces to be reckoned with, both domestically and abroad, and Detroit remains the auto capital of the world. Detroit’s domestic automakers are also major contributers to the local, regional, national and global economy: GM is number 3 on the 2006 Fortune 500 list, and Ford is number 5. Auto-related companies Delphi, Lear, Visteon, and Masco are in the top 200, as well. GM is the world’s largest automaker and has been the global industry sales leader for 75 years, and the Big 3’s contributions to the city of Detroit and the area of Southeastern Michigan in everything from funding arts and culture activities to proactive environmental land use is enormous.
The auto industry is more than just cars, though. From the introduction of windshield wipers to the first mile of paved concrete, Detroit and its auto industry have made the world a better place and shaped today’s society. Here’s a brief historic timeline highlighting important dates and happenings in Detroit’s auto industry from the late 1890s through 1971: