Milwaukee Junction, located just east of New Center, is an area in Detroit, Michigan with significant history related to the automobile industry. Located near the railroad junction of the Grand Trunk Western Railroad's predecessors Detroit, Grand Haven and Milwaukee Railway and the Chicago, Detroit and Canada Grand Trunk Junction, the area encompassed the streets of East Grand Boulevard to the north, St. Aubin St./Hamtramck Drive to the east, Woodward Avenue to the west, and the border following I-94 to the south. While its dynamic automotive past is gradually being forgotten, Milwaukee Junction’s immediate future seems increasingly clear: It appears to be Detroit’s next residential neighborhood.
The Milwaukee Junction neighborhood was constructed in the 1890s to encourage industrial expansion in what was then the far northern section of Detroit.
The area became a hub of early auto body manufacturing, being first a producer of wooden horse carriages and soon providing steel frames for the fledgling auto manufacturers. Fisher Auto Body, having a significant presence here, with both Plant 21 and Plant 23 on Piquette street alone, originally produced wooden horse carriages and was one of the early companies to supply steel auto bodies. Other auto parts companies opened shop in this area not only because of the many auto company manufacturers in the area but also because of the confluence of the two major railroad lines, making it efficient to ship autos and parts to other parts of the nation. Auto manufacturers who moved into the area included Everitt-Metzger-Flanders (E-M-F), Hupp (the Hupmobile), Anderson Electric Car Company, Brush Motor Car Company, Cadillac, Dodge, Packard, Oakland, Studebaker, and Regal.
Most notably, Ford Motor Company built their Piquette Avenue Plant in the area. This was the plant where the Model T was first built before being mass-produced in neighboring Highland Park at the Highland Park Ford Plant. Henry Ford also conducted experiments in assembly line production at the Piquette Avenue plant later used in Highland Park. The earlier models of the Ford line were also conceived and produced here including the model N and S.
The attraction of this railroad junction continues into even modern times, with Cadillac building the Poletown Plant adjacent to the junction in the early 1980s, almost on the site of the original 1908 Cadillac Motor Car Assembly Plant assembly plant, and less than 5 miles away from the "Cadillac Main" Detroit Assembly built in 1920 within the "V" of another railroad junction (at Junction Street) on the same Grand Trunk Western line.
The dominance of the Milwaukee Junction area in the auto industry lasted until the 1920s.
The junction is still heavily used by freight and passenger rail, today. Three lines of the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, a US subsidary of the Canadian National Railway, meet at the junction: The Shore Line Subdivision coming in from the southwest, the Holly Subdivision from the northwest, and the Mt. Clemens Subdivision from the northeast. The Detroit Connecting Railroad comes in from the south and interchanges with the GTW's Shore Line and Mt. Clemens subdivisions. The Conrail North Yard Branch, shared by CSX Transportation and the Norfolk Southern Railway, also crosses the site coming in from the southwest paralleling GTW's Shoreline and Mt. Clemens subdivisions, but does not interchange with any railways in the junction.
- "Detroit’s next hot neighborhood is hiding in plain sight".
- Eric J. Hill, John Gallagher, and the American Institute of Architects Detroit Chapter, AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 2002, ISBN 0-8143-3120-3. pp. 168-169.
- Milwaukee Junction from the Piquette Plant
- Fisher Body Plant Number 21 from Detroit1701.org
- Development of the Model T from the Piquette Plant
- Cadillac Motor Car Company Assembly Plant
- Piquette Avenue Industrial Historic District
- New Amsterdam Historic District
- Ford Piquette Avenue Plant