What was once a landmark of the bustling automotive industry in Detroit came crashing down yesterday afternoon. The pedestrian bridge over East Grand Boulevard at the old Packard plant collapsed into a rusted heap onto the roadway. Early speculation as to the cause centered on extreme fluctuations in temperatures over the region. Expansion and contraction of the century-old structure combined with the effects of corrosive decay likely led to its demise.
The 3.5 million square foot plant opened in 1903. At the time it was hailed as the wave of the future in automobile manufacturing. During its peak, the plant employed over 40,000 skilled tradesmen.
The Packard Motor Car Company produced luxury automobiles there until 1956.
The huge manufacturing plant was shuttered in 1958. However, some business continued to operate out of the complex for the next 50 years. Chemical Processing Inc. was the last tenant of the plant, departing in 2010.
Unfortunately, the facility that once symbolized the enormous financial impact of the automotive industry in Detroit outlived its usefulness. The deteriorating shell of greatness came to represent the urban blight that Detroit suffered in the latter part of the 20th century.
Now it’s just another part of our region’s history. Soon to carted away as the city begins clean-up of the debris.