Impact of the Hamtramck Plant

Most people who recall Dodge Main will do so because they worked there or lived in the surrounding communities with people who did. Hamtramck Village had about 500 residents at the turn of the century and nearly 3,600 by 1910, when the Dodge plant began operating. This was a farming community dominated by Germans before the coming of Dodge. However, by 1920 Hamtramck had 48,605 residents, with three-quarters of them recent Polish Immigrants. The city's population peaked at over 56,000 in 1930, but has since declined steadily to slightly more than 27,000 by the 1970 Census. The proportion of the population that either worked at Dodge Main or depended on those who did is not known precisely, but was large well into the 1950s. It was not accidental that Hamtramck grew up around the Joseph Campau Avenue streetcar line which brought workers to the Dodge gates. The ethnic makeup of Hamtramck and the Dodge Main workforce has become more diverse in recent decades, with Ukrainians, Blacks, and Arabs joining the Polish element.

In November 1954, Hamtramck held a week-long civic celebration, "Dodge City Days," to pay tribute to the new models and to mark the 40 year anniversary of the Dodge automobile. The city had an elaborate parade complete with a Dodge City Queen who rode in a new Dodge convertible. The company put on an Open House and a total of 78,745 visitors walked through Dodge Main on a single day. This outpouring of community enthusiasm and pride for Dodge also pointed out the close ties between this community and the big factory on Joseph Campau.