It’s no secret that the city of Detroit loves cars. For over 100 years, the Detroit Auto Show has showcased and celebrated the future of cars, boasting over 700,000 attendees every year. But in a fraction of that time, the Woodward Dream Cruise has grown to 1.5 million people admiring some of the greatest cars ever built in the city that started it all. Over 40,000 classic cars from across the globe find their way to Woodward every August for the World’s largest one-day automotive event. The whole experience is unique to Southeast Detroit, but many people still don’t know how to plan for it or the history behind it.
Photo via Hour Detroit
What Out-of-Towners should know about the Woodward Dream Cruise
The Dream Cruise was started in 1995 as a fundraiser to raise money for a soccer field in Ferndale. Over 250,000 people attended, which was ten times the expectation. People were clearly nostalgic and hungry to recreate some great memories. With that kind of turn out in the first year, it’s not surprising the event has grown so quickly.
The Cruise may seem like a dream nowadays, but back in the 50’s & 60’s it was a reality. Hot rods, muscle cars, convertibles, hard tops and more used to drive up and down Woodward, hitting every drive-in and restaurant along the way. If you were a young person in the mid 20th century, nothing was better than “Woodwarding”.
Photo via Woodward Avenue Action Association
In 1909, the first mile of concrete highway in the world was built on Woodward Ave. between Six and Seven Mile roads. By 1916, the 27-mile road was completely paved. During that time, it witnessed the rise of the auto industry. Henry Ford built his first car just a couple blocks from Woodward. Chrysler was founded three blocks east of Woodward. What better place to test drive vehicles?
Woodward was America’s first highway, known as M1. We’re always surprised when people come into our store and ask what M1 is. The name “Woodward” is synonymous with Detroit and the Dream Cruise and people rarely ever call it by its highway designation. They are aware of its cultural prominence within the city but not it’s historical significance.
When & Where to Be
Let’s be realistic…the official Woodward Dream Cruise may only be one day, but every Metro-Detroiter knows you can see classic cars driving everywhere all summer long, especially in the weeks leading up to the Dream Cruise. If you know you’re busy on Cruise day or if you just can’t get enough, it’s not crazy to post up along Woodward at dusk for weeks prior to the main event, scanning the road for classic beauties.
Photo via Woodward Dream Cruise
Naturally, with an event of this magnitude, there are two problems everyone deals with: excessive traffic and limited parking. On the weekend of the Cruise, you’ll want to be prepared. We recommend carpooling, knowing where you want to park prior to leaving, bringing chairs and blankets, and packing some refreshments.
There will be many additional activities happening throughout the surrounding communities including, a Kids Inflatable Zone in Berkley, a live music stage in Pontiac, and various car shows. This information can be found on the Woodward Dream Cruise website
Ink Detroit will be set up in multiple locations the weekend of the Dream Cruise celebrating and selling merchandise. They will have a pop up at Memorial Park in Royal Oak on Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. They will also be set up in from of the Metro PCS Store in Berkley at 27833 Woodward Ave on Friday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Where to Park
Berkley: Municipal Parking is available Downtown, but there is no public parking near Woodward besides on side streets of adjoining roads.
Birmingham: 5 Parking decks, all walking distance from Woodward
Bloomfield Township: $5 Spectator parking
Ferndale: Metered Municipal parking
Huntington Woods: No parking near Woodward, parking lots are leased to car clubs
Pleasant Ridge: No public parking near Woodward, but there are limited spots on side streets adjoining Woodward
Pontiac: Municipal parking Downtown and near Woodward
Royal Oak: Municipal parking lots walking distance from Woodward
The 24th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise is on Saturday, August 18 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. There are no fees to cruise in the event or to watch. Those not driving a classic car are asked to stay out of the two right lanes nearest to the curb. For more information, visit the official website.