Coordinates: 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  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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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. The controversy inspired at least one short film: "Poletown Lives!"
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.
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. In May 2011, GM announced it would invest $69 million in the plant for the Chevrolet Impala.
- Dodge Charger 1966-1978
- Dodge Custom 1946-1949
- Dodge Lancer 1955-1962
- Dodge Wayfarer 1949-1952
- Dodge Meadowbrook 1949-1954
- Dodge Coronet 1949-1976
- Dodge Royal 1954-1959
- Dodge Polara 1959-1973
- Dodge Matador 1959-1960
- Dodge 330 1962-1964
- Dodge Custom 880 1962-1965
- Dodge Monaco 1964-1978
Products (General Motors)
Current (model years)
- Cadillac CT6 2016–present
- Chevrolet Impala 2014–present
- Chevrolet Volt 2011–present
- Buick LaCrosse (Third Generation) June 2016-Present
Future (model years)
- Chevrolet Impala 2018 (Eleventh Generation)
Past (model years)
- Chevrolet Malibu 2013–2016
- Cadillac ELR 2014–2015
- Holden Volt 2013–2015
- Opel/Vauxhall Ampera 2012–2015
- Buick Lucerne 2006-2011
- Cadillac DTS 2006-2011
- Pontiac Bonneville 2004-2005
- Buick LeSabre 2000-2005
- Cadillac DeVille 1994-2005
- Buick Riviera 1988-1993
- Oldsmobile Toronado 1988-1992
- Cadillac Allanté 1987-1993
- Cadillac Seville 1986-2004
- Cadillac Eldorado 1986-2000
- Dodge Main location
- History of Dodge factory
- NATIONAL ARCHITECTURAL AND ENGINEERING RECORD
- Chevrolet Gear & Axle Division Detroit
- http://www.multinationalmonitor.org/hyper/issues/1983/07/review.html Review of Poletown.
- Marwil, Milton (1992). Cantor, Judith Levin, ed. "The True Story of the Cemetery in the General Motors Parking Lot" (PDF). Michigan Jewish History. Jewish Historical Society of Michigan. 33: 30. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 9, 2014. Retrieved May 6, 2014.
- Congregation Shaarey Zedek, Clover Hill Park Cemetery. "Urban farming in Brightmoor Gardens: Neighbors sow change in Detroit." Retrieved on April 18, 2012.
- History of Dodge Factory
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (August 2008) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
- Scott Miner; Richard L. Waddell (June 1985). "GM goes high-tech in the inner city - Poletown". Ward's Auto World.[dead link]
- Drew Winter (Nov 1991). "Update: the machines that didn't change the world - robots in the automobile industry". Ward's Auto World.[dead link]
- "Condemn nation". The (Colorado Springs) Gazette (August 4, 2004).
- "GM Commits to Volt Production in Detroit-Hamtramck, Michigan 2010". Retrieved 2008-09-22.