Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly

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Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly is located in Michigan
Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly
Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly's location in Michigan

Coordinates: 42°22′52.0278″N 83°2′49.3002″W / 42.381118833°N 83.047027833°W / 42.381118833; -83.047027833 Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly is a General Motors (GM) automobile assembly plant straddling the border between Detroit and Hamtramck, Michigan. It is located about three miles (five km) from GM's corporate headquarters. When the facility opened, it was built on the original Dodge Factory [1] location that was built in 1910, which was closed in 1979 and demolished in 1981, and the new GM factory built vehicles for GM's "BOC" (Buick/Oldsmobile/Cadillac) Group. The first vehicle, a Cadillac Eldorado, rolled off the assembly line on February 4, 1985.[2]

It replaced GM's Detroit Assembly on Clark Avenue, south of Michigan Avenue (U.S. Route 12) in Detroit which was the main facility for all Cadillacs starting in 1921. It is about one mile east of the former Packard Automotive Plant.

The plant currently builds vehicles for GM's Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick divisions and employs approximately 1,600 people. Since opening in 1985, more than 4 million vehicles have been built at the plant.[2]



The Dodge Factory, or “Dodge Main” as it became to be known, occupied 67 acres (0.27 km2) on the edge of the village of Hamtramck, which is surrounded by the city of Detroit.[3] Plant 4, on Conant Avenue, was separated only from the main plant structures by a railroad right-of-way, which was also the boundary line between the two cities. The plant started off as just a few buildings but it grew rapidly as needed, where it ended up as 35 separate buildings, to include a foundry, before it was demolished. The plant was originally designed by Albert Kahn Associates, when they were replaced by another architectural firm Smith, Hinchman & Grylls, due to a disagreement with the Dodge brothers starting in 1912. Reflecting an engineering philosophy the brothers shared, the plant was vastly overbuilt.[4]

There were two railroads crossing the area, and plenty of open land at the time. One of the railroad lines went north to the nearby Highland Park Ford Plant which had just opened earlier. The original intent was to continue providing parts and subassemblies, and ship them to Ford. It also included the first time a car manufacturer used a vehicle test track, including a portion where newly manufactured cars would drive up a ramp, to test the powertrain durability and the brakes on the way down.

John and Horace had grown up on factory floors and machine shops, and they made sure their employees were well cared for. The Dodge facility had a complete medical facility, with doctors and nurses on duty at all times, an efficient plant security department, and a well-equipped firefighting department with direct contact with the local Hamtramck Fire Department. The plant included a “welfare department” which looked after workers’ social needs, and reflecting the innovation nature of the brothers, a machine shop called “the Playpen” where employees who wanted to fix or invent things could indulge in their ideas after hours. The facility had an executive dining room, and a cafeteria for office and plant employees, complete with a fully equipped kitchen; a smaller facility in Plant 4 prepared hot food for distribution to the factory areas via small trolleys.

General Motors[edit]

The 362 acres (1.46 km2) site was home to a large Polish community that was part of an area that is sometimes referred to as Poletown. 4,200 residents, 1,400 homes, several churches (including Immaculate Conception Church) and 140 businesses, including the old Dodge factory, were located on the proposed site. The residential area was north of the Dodge facility. The acquisition of part of the property through eminent domain, and clearing of this section of the neighborhood was the subject of various protests and court battles. Eventually the case went to the Michigan Supreme Court which ruled in favor of General Motors stating that economic development is a legitimate use of eminent domain. Detroit Mayor Coleman Young sided with GM, seeking new jobs and investments.

It is south of a former GM facility, called Chevrolet Gear & Axle Division, which was the combination of two former factories, called Detroit Gear and Axle, plus Detroit Forge, which had occupied the location at Holbrook Avenue to the south, Lumpkin Street to the east, Poland Avenue to the north and I-75 to the west. The factories were demolished in 2014, having occupied the location since 1917.[5]

While some residents protested, others supported the efforts to build the new plant. Gary Campbell, a Poletown resident and bar owner, accused those opposing the new plant of presenting opinions of a small minority as if they represented the entire neighborhood. The controversy led to national news attention and the involvement of Ralph Nader and the Gray Panthers. Protests centered around the Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church. The regional Catholic Archdiocese supported the relocations and had already agreed to sell the two Catholic churches that were in the area. However, Joseph Karasiewicz, the priest at one of the parishes defied his local Cardinal and fought to keep his building from being sold. The Archdiocese stood firm in its support of the sale. A 29-day sit-in at the Immaculate Conception Church came to an end on July 14, 1981 when police forcibly evicted 20 people from the church. Twelve people were arrested, only three of the twelve arrested were from Poletown. Shortly afterward, the site targeted for the plant was razed and construction began on the new $500 million auto assembly plant.[6] The controversy inspired at least one short film: "Poletown Lives!"[7]

A small Jewish cemetery, Beth Olem, occupies part of the grounds of the GM Assembly at the extreme northwest corner of the properety, next to the water treatment facility. The older pre-existing auto plant parking lot engulfed the small cemetery long before General Motors built the new assembly plant. Visitation is currently limited to twice a year on the Sundays preceding Rosh Hashana and Passover.[8][9]

Cadillac K-body production was consolidated there in the 1990s. The Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly later received the contract for the production of Chevrolet Volt, which uses the Delta II/Voltec body.

On April 21, 2010 GM announced it would invest $121 million into the Detroit/Hamtramck factory to ensure GM could keep up with the demand for the next generation Chevrolet Malibu.[10] In May 2011, GM announced it would invest $69 million in the plant for the Chevrolet Impala.[11]

In 2013-2016, production of the Cadillac ELR (a Cadillac equivalent of the Chevrolet Volt) began followed two years later by production of the Cadillac CT6.

Products (Dodge) 1910-1979[12][edit]

Products (General Motors)[edit]

Current (model years)[edit]

Future (model years)[edit]

Past (model years)[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]