Sunday, December 9, 2012

Greenfield Village

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Right around Halloween, Brad and I found ourselves back at the Henry Ford for a first-time excursion around Greenfield Village. The village was in its final weekend before closing up for Christmas renovations, so we took advantage of our time there and saw as much as we could in one afternoon.

For those of you who don't know, Greenfield Village is a beautiful, historic-oriented landscape filled with houses and businesses from various decades in American history. Original buildings, such as H.J. Heinz's (yes, of the famous "57") Pennsylvania home and the Menlo Park Laboratory (home to many of Thomas Edison's personal inventions and innovations) line the horse-and-carriage-traveled streets, while Model T rides are also available between individual sites across the village. I was particularly fascinated by the fact that so many prominent structures were just uprooted from their original locations and shipped to Dearborn, all residing so closely now for tourists to conveniently visit throughout the year. It's a step back in time, and a wonderful way to escape the stresses of present-day life.

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Aside from walking, old-fashioned vehicles provide transportation within Greenfield Village.
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Beep, beep! We couldn't help but wave at this friendly group as they drove by.
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Not the original, but this building is a small-scale replica of one of Ford's original factory buildings.
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Antique time pieces inside an old jewelry store.
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Me, standing with ol' Tom Ed himself. Henry Ford, a good friend of Edison, actually commissioned this statue while Edison was still alive. It wasn't built, however, until 1949--years after both men had already died.

Greenfield Village is also home to several working trains, which are serviced in the on-site wheelhouse. We chose to walk for the entirety of the afternoon and didn't buy a ride pass, but lemme tell ya--the village was much bigger than I expected. By the end of the day, my feet were begging for a little relief.

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Train stop right inside the entrance of Greenfield Village
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Inside the wheelhouse--restoration and service city.

In addition to several historic preservations, Greenfield Village hosts a community of artisans who craft daily to demonstrate historical techniques to visitors. Some stand-outs include professional glass blowers and potters, whose handiwork is available in the village gift shop.

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Inside the glass shop. The kilns looked like lava and were kind of threatening, but I adored this little horse.

And for a timeless treat, an antique carousel sits prominently in the confines of the village--a beautifully preserved piece of the early 20th century that children and adults continue to enjoy today.


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Left: The antique carousel at Greenfield Village. Herschell-Spillman was the only company that created carousels with giant green frogs and animals clad in human clothing.


Right: I paid a quarter to view a short flip-card movie in this little machine, which I found next to the carousel. 


Of course, no day would be complete if Brad didn't chase down some poor animal that he wanted to be friends with. Victim of the day: this little squirrel. Brad walked behind him for a few minutes, but the squirrel finally wised up and hopped behind a fence. Sometimes, I swear that boy is five years old.

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Brad, trying to contract rabies in every way he knows how.

I am incredibly excited to say that we'll be returning to Greenfield Village next weekend for the annual Holiday Nights celebration, an outdoor festival that features old-timey carolers, fireworks, and other Christmas goodness. I'm mentally preparing myself for a cold evening outdoors, but I think hot chocolate and dressing like a character from A Christmas Carol might help sooth my concerns. Plus, it's Christmas. I don't think I can say that enough . . . it just makes everything better.

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend--let me know if you have any Christmas traditions (old or new) coming up that you'd like to share!

2 comments:

  1. What a cool and interesting trip, Jennifer!
    I hope you and Brad will have a great time at the Holiday Nights!

    How do the Atlialps celebrate Christmas?
    Well, we start into the holiday by buying a fir tree in the morning of Christmas Eve. Necmi cares for the lighting - my job is to decorate it. We love the fresh smell of fir in the living room.
    In the evening we all come together - me, Necmi, Lale, Dilan and Robin (and Merle & Peter, the cats)and have a fondue (NOT the cats, sure). Later in the evening we unwrap our gifts, which we had put under the tree before.
    We sit together, sometimes we play games, sometimes we get hungry again and have a second "fondue round". A very relaxed evening and night.
    That's the main Christmas difference between Germany and some other countries..... that we give each other our gifts on Christmas Eve. I love that. But I remember how sloooooooow the day passed by when I was a child...... unpatiently waiting for the evening.....

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  2. That does sound nice! And actually, my family has always exchanged gifts on Christmas Eve, as well. A lot of people do it the next morning, but I guess we're just impatient. ;) But really, after an evening church service and nice dinner, sitting around the tree with presents just caps off one of my favorite nights of the year.

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