A Short History of the Ford PlantA Short History of the Ford Plant
Industrial Archaeology and Economic Change in St. Paul

by Brian McMahon

The most famous man in the world arrived in St. Paul on a brisk spring day in 1923 to explore his new acquisition, a 167-acre site on a beautiful bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, complete with its own hydroelectric power plant. Henry Ford, known far and wide for his success with mass production, for providing affordable cars to workers, and for paying workers enough to buy the cars they made, was planning to build a new plant.

Working with machinery driven by hydro and steam power, fabricating windshields with sand mined from tunnels beneath the plant itself, the plant’s workers produced Model Ts and Model As, Fairlanes and Ranger trucks. They weathered enormous changes in labor relations, management practices, and plant expansions and renovations. And they built vehicles that drove the nation.

Brian McMahon is a trained architect who has written and lectured widely on architectural and urban history. He is completing a book on the history of the Ford Motor Company in Minnesota for the University of Minnesota Press.

$1.99 E-book short, ISBN 978-0-87351-914-4, 20 pages
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