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Creation of the industry


Michigan center
Michigan center

The 1890s saw the creation of the industry that would become synonymous with Michigan: automobile manufacturing. Within decades, Detroit became the automotive capital of the world as men who had made fortunes in lumber and mining invested in the new industry. Ransom E. Olds of Lansing established the first Michigan company to manufacture automobiles in 1897. Henry Ford, who produced his first experimental car in 1893, founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903. Ford’s Model T, first produced in 1908, dominated the low-price market for almost two decades. Ford’s plant was the first to perfect the continuously moving assembly line, which allowed automobiles to be made more quickly and cheaply, putting them within reach of more consumers and greatly expanding the industry.

William C. Durant of Flint organized the General Motors Corporation in 1908, combining the Buick, Oldsmobile, and Oakland companies. The Cadillac company and the firm started by Louis Chevrolet were added later. In 1925 Walter Chrysler established the Chrysler Corporation, the youngest of what became the Big Three automobile companies.

The automobile industry had a revolutionary impact on Michigan. The state, which had few large cities before 1910, became rapidly urbanized. Detroit rose from ninth to fourth place in population among U.S. cities from 1910 to 1920, when it had 1 million residents. The number of foreign immigrants, largely from southern and eastern European countries, rose rapidly from 1910 to 1925. During and after World War I, (1914-1918), thousands of Southern blacks also moved to Detroit seeking jobs and better opportunities, but they also faced segregation and a chapter of the racist Ku Klux Klan. During the war, Michigan factories produced trucks, airplane engines, and other military supplies, in addition to the mass production of cars. "Michigan" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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