Watch history come alive at Greenfield Village, Detroit

Imagine what living in America was like some one hundred years ago. Now try explaining to your kids that the Model T was just being invented, not all homes had telephones, let alone cell phones, and television was a mere idea on the drawing board. But just five hours from Chicago is a place lets you share almost 200 years of American history of with your family.  The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan is the world’s premiere history destination. This National Historic Landmark, with five distinct attractions, fascinates and inspires more than a million and a half visitors every year.

History in the streets
Long before historic re-enactments became popular, Henry Ford had his own vision of how to future generations should discover the American experience. His idea was to create a place that would celebrate the spirit of American innovation and those who changed the face of modern day America.
Relive the sights, sounds and tastes of America’s past
At Greenfield Village, you can experience 200 years of American history through 83 authentic, historic structures, four living history farms and artisans creating unique 19th and 20th century pottery, glass and tin. Taste Abraham Lincoln’s favorite dish, chicken fricassee at Eagle Tavern. Ride aboard a historic 19th century steam engine or the majestically restored Hershell-Spillman Carousel.
I had an opportunity to spend some time at Greenfield Village last summer and was absolutely captivated by this charming experience. Part of my pleasure was seeing children in front of a printing press, staring with utter amazement as they watched a historian drop each letter into the galley and create a poster. “Type,” they said. What’s that?” “Do you mean you have to print them one at a time?”
You’ll have a chance to explore the Wright Brothers Bicycle Shop where Orville and Wilbur invented their ground-breaking flying machine. See Noah Webster’s study filled with books that inspired his first dictionary of the American language. Kids and adults alike will be fascinated by Edison’s Menlo Park, New Jersey Laboratory, where they’ll watch a demonstration of Edison’s first “sound machine that recreated the human voice.”  Teens will certainly get a new appreciation of their I-Pods.
As you walk along Main Street, you’ll pass costumed couples on a stroll, see people riding high-wheeler bicycles and hear a barbershop quarter crooning on the Village Green. Don’t miss watching a real baseball game played by 1867 rules.  Try your own hand at glass-blowing. The whole family can ride on a genuine Model T, horse-drawn buggy or board a historic 19th century steam engine.
Glassblowing at Greenfield Village

Glassblowing at Greenfield Village

The other four attractions in the Henry Ford complex include the Henry Ford Museum, IMAX Theatre, Ford Rouge Factory Tour and the Benson Ford Research Center. The IMAX theatres show the latest films in 3-D, while the Ford Rouge Factory tour lets you watch as an F-150 truck is assembled in this “green friendly” plant.

Among the thousands of exhibits at the Henry Ford, what stood out for me were the 1961 Lincoln Continental that President Kennedy rode in when he was assassinated, Rosa Parks’ bus, where she refused to give up her seat and the rocking chair from Ford Theatre where President Lincoln was sitting when he was shot.

For more information, visit www.thehenryford.org., www.greenfieldvillage.org and www.visitdetroit.com.

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