Building the Working City: Designs on Home and Life in Boomtown Detroit, 1914-1929


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




The modern worker’s home made Detroit’s Fordist industrialization possible. During the years 1914-1929, from Ford’s “Five Dollar Day” to the Great Depression, Detroit industrialists, real estate developers, and workers produced a building boom in housing, reshaping the urban culture, and creating what Antonio Gramsci has called “a new type of worker and of man.” Examining these agents’ city-building efforts—their Fordist Urbanism—this project reveals that the modern worker’s home shaped Detroit’s promise of prosperity but also elaborated conflicts of race and economic control, undermining the city’s prosperity from the beginning in ways that continue to echo today.