Flint, MI—From Vehicle City to Most Dangerous to Something New

2016 Annual Meeting Banner

It’s the birthplace of General Motors, Buick, and the home of Chevrolet. At its peak, Flint’s population reached 200,000 people, more than double what it is today. It was a thriving metropolis until plant closings and corporate relocations caused the city to become environmentally destitute. Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods were left abandoned and subsequently decayed. Today, most of the news coming out of Flint deals with the imminent water crisis.

Flint 7 - Vehicle City

Despite the hardship, Flint is rich in history and culturally diverse. Thanks to revitalization programs and a dedicated community, the city is now at the crux of a rebirth. During the Day Trip to Flint, participants will visit Whaley Historic House Museum, Durant-Dort Carriage Co. (the birthplace of GM), the Sloan Museum, and Applewood: The Charles Stewart Mott Estate.

In congruence with the AASLH/MMA 2016 Annual Meeting‘s Spirit of Rebirth theme, a day trip to Flint will demonstrate how cities across the United States have been impacted by major corporations for better or worse. For the city itself, it is important for new people to visit and see the “real” Flint, not a media portrayed city of decimation. Flint is home to one of the most vibrant cultural centers in the state which includes; the second largest art museum in Michigan, a regional history and science museum, Michigan’s largest planetarium, several historic house museums, a theater, an institute of music, and a library—all within walking distance of one another.


Applewood: The Charles Stewart Mott Estate

The sites selected give a holistic view into Michigan and all it encompasses—from farmland to industrial giant—each rich with their own history and architecture. The tour will provide participants with a better sense of community revitalization. Participants will be given prime examples of foundation and community based projects that enhance local, state, and national history, while growing and reinvigorating a city.


Whaley House
Whaley House

The tour takes places from 8 am to 5:30pm on Wednesday (conference sessions start Thursday). It will touch on multiple ways to evolve and embrace new opportunities through change and shifting audiences and demographics. Each site will discuss how they are/have been weathering the storm of economic recession. The day trip starts at the Whaley Historic House Museum which is recovering from a major fire, giving yet another unique opportunity for history professionals to discuss the spirit of rebirth, in this case, one of major natural disaster. The day will culminate with a tour and evening reception at Applewood: The Charles Stewart Mott Estate. Both Charles Stewart Mott and his wife Ruth Mott created foundations that have been vital to the rebirth in Flint.

Participants will also enjoy a bus tour to various historic and revitalization projects happening throughout the city:

  • Flint Farmer’s Market (one of fifteen Great Places in America by the American Planning Association)
  • S. Mott Foundation building (1930, 16-story Art Deco building)
  • Vehicle City Arches (restoration by the Genesee County Historical Society)
  • 1920 Durant Hotel and 1925 National Bank Building (historic renovation preserved architectural features while creating contemporary urban lofts)
  • Dryden Building and Capitol Theater (currently going through historic renovation)
  • Site of the 1936–37 UAW Sit down Strike
  • And more!

See more Annual Meeting tours, events, and sessions in the Advance Program, and visit the conference home page to register.