It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate place to spend Labor Day than Michigan’s Greenfield Village – an aggregation of artifacts, learning and living history that illuminates the contributions of American labor, and genius, to the modern world. This is nothing short of an exploration of America on the cusp of the 20th century.
Greenfield Village is one of those essential family experiences, where you can time travel through seven historic districts and come away the better for it.
A good place to start is the Henry Ford home. Then visit a replica of the factory where American labor fashioned Ford’s first automobiles. Take the kids on a test ride in a restored Model T, and then have them compare the ride to the family wheels.
Remember, we said genius lives here. See the laboratory where Thomas Edison ushered in the age of electric light. Peruse the collection of old light bulbs and compare them to those we use today. Edison’s range of invention was remarkable. The man not only turned on the lights for our planet, he helped bring it recorded voice and music. See the phonographs of an earlier era. Contrast them to the iPod stashed in your pocket.
Although the Wright Brothers lived and worked in Dayton, the Wright Cycle Shop lives in the Main Street District of Greenfield Village.
American craftsmanship is resurgent these days, and you can find motorized examples as close as nearby Detroit. More poetically, at Greenfield Village, watch as artisans demonstrate the craft of glassblowing at the Sandwich Glass Plant. Then, head to the iconic Hershell-Spillman antique carousel for a fanciful ride on a merry-go-round populated by giant green frogs.
This is no amusement park. What it is a fascinating, accessible portal into America as she was. This Labor Day weekend, it’s a must-see.
(Image: F.D. Richards)Jerry Chandler