The automobile is a thread that runs through the last century of Michigan’s history—and through the Michigan Historical Museum’s twentieth century galleries as well! Even young students can discuss similarities and differences among cars and imagine what it might have been like to ride in the various models.
The automobile industry brought huge numbers of workers to Michigan early in the twentieth century and gave them and their families high wages and good benefits. The automobile changed the very landscape, spurring enormous growth in cities as well as a network of expressways.
All of this progress came at a cost. Working with automated machinery sometimes became mind-numbing, dehumanizing experiences with little hope for advancement. Such conditions frequently caused friction between labor and management, exemplified in the 1936-1937 Flint Sit-Down Strike. Cars and the factories that made them contributed to pollution of our air, land and water.
One can only wonder how the next big change in transportation will affect us!