For nearly a century, the Ford Motor Company had a major presence in Minnesota. It began with the sale of “Fordmobiles” in a St. Cloud bicycle shop. Then came the production of Model Ts at the world’s tallest automobile plant in Minneapolis and a three-story structure in St. Paul—both still standing, yet both rendered functionally obsolete after the development of the assembly line.
These closures led Henry Ford to build the Twin Cities Assembly Plant on a 125-acre site in St. Paul overlooking the High Dam on the Mississippi River, which allowed for navigation and hydroelectric power. The plant would go on to manufacture millions of cars, trucks, tractors, and military vehicles and transform the lives of many Minnesotans.
Join historian Brian McMahon as he shares Ford’s affinity for the “Viking farmers” of the state, and the company’s transformation through cultural changes and events such as the Depression, the rise of the United Auto Workers Union, World War II, women in the workforce, competition from imported cars, globalization, outsourcing, and finally, the closing and demolition of the Twin Cities Assembly Plant in 2011.
LearningLife seminars embrace Socrates's belief in inquiry and exchange. Seminars include both lecture and critical discussion. Tuition includes continental breakfast.
Recommended: Brian McMahon, The Ford Century in Minnesota (University of Minnesota Press, 2016).
Brian McMahon is a trained architect who has lectured and written extensively on industry, urban history, and architecture. He has been awarded research grants from the Minnesota Historical Society, the Minnesota Labor Interpretive Center, the Ramsey County Historical Society, and the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission. His most recent book is The Ford Century in Minnesota.