A Piece of Detroit's History Crumbles

Weather conditions, age thought to be behind Packard Plant bridge collapse
By Marcel Wiel,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2019 11:47 AM CST

(Newser) – At 3pm on Wednesday, a 150-foot-long piece of Detroit history crumbled. The iconic Packard Plant bridge collapsed onto the street below, and it's believed the structure's age and recent temperature fluctuations were behind its undoing, reports the Detroit Free Press. The 35-foot-wide brick-and-concrete bridge was once a conduit in the now-defunct Packard automobile assembly line: After the auto bodies were assembled in the plant's southern building, they would cross Grand Boulevard to the northern building. A local resident who noted it was "like losing an old friend" told the Detroit News he doubted the bridge would be reconstructed.

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Fernando Palazuelo, the developer who scooped up most of the property in 2013, says he would like to see that happen, but there's an issue. The city holds the title to the southern building and half the bridge, and hasn't been open to selling it; Palazuelo owns the other half of the bridge. WXYZ reports the city will remove the debris and remaining portions of the structure. As for the plant's demise, Packard started producing automobiles in 1903 but ran into trouble a few decades later; History.com notes the company could not match the resources of General Motors and was soon bested by Cadillac. The plant closed in 1956. (Read more Detroit stories.)

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