In spite of limitless eccentricities and truly irrational ideas, such as establishing a rubber plantation in Brazil’s Amazon River region, Henry Ford revolutionized the world of manufacturing and introduced the concept of globalization. His Ford Motor Company used the assembly line concept in the mass production of the low-cost Model T Ford automobile and paid its employees the then huge salary of $5 a day so that they could afford to buy one.
An engineer by trade, Ford’s Achilles’s heel was that he believed that only he knew how life should be lived. He was certain that his values, lifestyle and modes of education were ideal and should be followed by everyone. He therefore imposed his way of life on all his employees. He had his version of “American” towns built around his plants and plantations, complete with schools, churches, sports facilities, police forces, fire departments, and even movie theatres. As a fervent pacifist, he singlehandedly tried to stop World War I.
As he aged, he became obsessed with the need of Americans to experience their history and heritage. He bought historical artifacts of all kinds: entire farms, houses, documents, artworks, and the like, to teach future generations about their homeland. The Henry Ford displays 300 years of history by means of 26 million artifacts. The Museum section exhibits extraordinary items such as George Washington’s camp bed that he slept in while touring Revolutionary War sites, the limousine in which President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and which remained in service as part of the White House fleet until 1978, the rocking chair in Abraham Lincoln’s theatre box in which he was sitting when he was mortally wounded, and the segregated bus in which Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat to a white man.
Ford’s ideal Greenfield Village is nearby. It comprises 83 authentic “historic” houses, including the Wright brothers’ home and bicycle shop from Dayton, Ohio, Ford’s great friend Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory, and four “living history farms”.
Ford’s Rouge Factory is the third branch of the Ford museums. In its heydey it produced a car every 49 seconds. Today it remains a smaller functioning factory. A nearby truck manufacturing unit is an alternative option when car production is on hiatus.
An entire day seems to fly by as one admires the many-faceted life, works and acquisitions of one of America’s unique entrepreneurs.
20900 Oakwood Boulevard, Dearborn, Michigan 48124
Tel: (313) 982-6001 www.thehenryford.org
Hours: Daily: 9:30AM – 5:00PM
Admission: Adults: Museum: $18, Seniors: $16, Youth: $13.50
Greenfield Village: $24, $22, $17.50
Ford Rouge Factory: $15, $14, $12