During World War II they both anchored the mighty military production base that came to be known as the “Arsenal of Democracy,” but today, the old Packard and Willow Run assembly plants are symbols of the decay of the Motor City and its once-formidable manufacturing base.
But both factories could gain a new life in the near future, one as a reminder of the region’s history, the other returning to its original purpose, albeit producing modular homes rather than automobiles. Meanwhile, a third plant that saw the birth of the moving assembly line in the years leading up to the first World War may also be salvaged.
At their peak, factories in Detroit and its suburbs produced millions of cars annually. That manufacturing prowess was central to the U.S. military effort during both World Wars and during the 1940s earned the Motor City the alternate nickname as America’s Arsenal of Democracy. Many of the factories that rolled out bombers, tanks and other war machinery are already long gone and of the few that remain, most are in fading condition.