As Dream Cruise Nears, History Center Gives Nod to Woodward Avenue’s Past

As Dream Cruise Nears, History Center Gives Nod to Woodward Avenue’s Past

(Oakland History Center, Aug. 16, 2021)

If you have a pulse and have lived in metropolitan Detroit at any point in the past 26 years, you know that the Woodward Dream Cruise happens in August. Today, the Dream Cruise is the world’s largest one-day automotive event, drawing 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars each year from around the world.

Oakland County, doing big things like we do. Woodward Avenue has helped shape and move our county for centuries — even before it went by the Woodward name. The contours of our communities have been impacted. 1.3 million people that live here have almost all traveled on it; some travel on it nearly every day of their lives.

A century ago, the emphasis was on widening and repaving this crucial thoroughfare to accommodate the automotive expansion and population explosion taking place. Here is what Oakland County’s road commissioners wrote in 1926:

“Another question which at the present time is receiving some consideration and upon which some progress has been made is the question of widening the highway. The difficulty attendant upon this problem is that we are prone to consider the highways in light of the circumstances of today when, as a matter of fact, we should try to visualize, if we can, what the condition will be fifty years from now, or one hundred years from now. Not that roads should be laid out now in anticipation of what conditions will be fifty years from now so far as their construction in concerned, but so far as the laying out of the lines and the establishing of the width is concerned, now is the time to lay them out on lines so logical and of widths sufficient to anticipate any demand that may come upon them during the next century. All of our cities are paying the penalty of the shortsighted policy of establishing narrow roads… It is useless to deplore the mistakes of the past and refuse to consider the future.”

You can learn more about Woodward Avenue’s fascinating evolution by reading Leslie Pielack’s “The Saginaw Trail: From Native American Path to Woodward Avenue.” You can purchase this great book on our website or at our Oakland History Center. 

We also have books for sale about Cruising Woodward and General Motors’ history, among many other titles. Stay safe and have fun during next weekend’s Dream Cruise excitement!

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