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Motor City: Detroit’s Nickname

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Motor City, (Motown) was the name given to Detroit back in the early 1900s. This all stemmed from when Detroit was considered the center of the automotive industry.

This Midwestern city took advantage of the vehicle– earning themselves the nickname. Because their location made it so easy to obtain natural resources, it made for a good spot for manufacturing.

Motor City: The Becoming

Henry Ford was born in Greenfield Township, PA, just neighboring Detroit. Ransom Olds moved to Lansing. This was a natural lineup for their future endeavors.

Olds made a decision to outsource the manufacturing of parts for his Oldsmobile. Working with others was a motivation for those suppliers to gain skills too. Those people include Henry Leland, the Dodge Brothers, and Benjamin Briscoe. Those men went on to be the founders of Cadillac, Lincoln, Buick, and Dodge.

Olds’ invention of the assembly line combined with Ford’s creation of the first conveyor belt-based production was unstoppable. This made mass production possible.

This encouraged auto experts to come to Detroit.

By 1924, General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford were all based in the area. By 1950, there were 296,000 manufacturing jobs in the auto industry. Motor City became the new title of the city. In the 1960s, the label of Motown Records’ headquarters was in Detroit.

Integrating Music

Motown is an African-American owned label that helped racial integration when they were established. This impact was significant.

Berry Gordy founded the company with a small loan from his family. He wanted to best reflect the community he grew up in. In reference to Detroit’s nickname, he used the word ‘town’ instead. This gave him the name “Motor Town” which soon enough became Motown.

There is no other record company that has had such a hefty impact on the style and substance of culture and music. Motown helped with artist development.

The home of artists such as Stevie Wonder and The Jackson 5, has become the central spot for American pop music.

All of this was the result of the progression of the automotive industry.

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