GM Decision on Poletown Plant Dredges Up Painful History in Hamtramck, Detroit

Jake Neher/WDET

Bill McGraw

Thirty-eight years ago, the cities of Hamtramck and Detroit helped demolish a neighborhood to make way for the construction of the massive General Motors manufacturing plant known as Poletown.

On Monday, General Motors announced that it would halt production at that auto plant as part of massive cutbacks nationwide.

There is a rich and painful history in this community that surrounds the Poletown plant. Its creation, the destruction of the neighborhood that made it possible, the intense political and racial dynamics that swirled around the very discussion of its creation.

And for some in this area, Monday’s announcement is a difficult flashback to all of that, a reliving of the deep questions about the interface of development and cities and neighborhoods and citizens that make Poletown one of the most controversial issues, ever, in Southeast Michigan.

Journalist Bill McGraw joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to talk about that history.

Click on the audio player above to hear that conversation.

Image credit: Library of Congress

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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