PACKARD’S EAST GRAND BOULEVARD ASSEMBLY PLANT

Author -- Joe Babiasz

“Ask The Man Who Owns One.”

This is the outside of the bridge. Note clock.

was the slogan Packard used as its advertising motto. The company understood an endorsement from a current owner was the best advertisement any company could have. After all, the Packard brand was among the finest in the world and for nearly six decades, Packard continued to produce world class vehicles. Until it’s demise in 1958, over 1.6 million Packards were sold to owners who agreed with that slogan.

The majority of the 1.6 million vehicles produced were built at Packard’s East Grand Boulevard assembly plant in Detroit, Michigan. The East Grand Boulevard plant was, in many respects, responsible for creating what we know today as “middle class” America. The Packard Motor Car Company took part in building a thriving community that helped provide opportunities for people willing to work hard and had the dream of living America’s “good life”.

Aerial View of Plant circa 1937

Today, the same facility provides a somber look at what could become the future of the American automobile industry. In ruins, the ghost of a plant is a sad remembrance to what once was the largest, most modern automobile plant in the world. Stretching over six tenths of a mile long, the facility was considered the jewel of the automotive industry. With broken windows, collapsed roofs and picked clean of anything of value, the plant is a stark reflection of what happens when a domestic automobile company is left to fail. Not only did Packard fail but so did the surrounding neighborhood. Once a vibrant place to live and work, this part of Detroit is nearly a 21st century ghost town.

As the plant area is today

Packard Motor Car Company had its modest start in Warren, Ohio as the Ohio Motor Car Company. Within a few years of founding the company, it became necessary to expand due to increased sales of their popular motor car. The decision was made to move from Warren, Ohio to Detroit, Michigan. The main reason for the move was because all of the investors who were putting money into the company lived in Detroit. Henry Joy, an entrepreneur assembled the group, who provided $275,000 of seed money for Packard, more than double the amount the Packard brothers were able to bring to the table. After putting the team in place, Joy was asked to find an architect to design the new facility. Joy chose Albert Kahn, a world-renowned architect who later designed the Packard Proving Grounds, GM building and other Detroit landmarks.

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