Historic Sites

Detroit Renaissance Center Helped Revitalize Detroit

Henry Ford II's commitment to developing the Renaissance Center brought people, businesses and new hope to Detroit following the 1967 riots.

To help revitalize Detroit following the 1967 riots and the racial tensions of the late 1960s, Henry Ford II worked closely with Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young to help generate interest, funding and office tenants for the Renaissance Center on the Detroit waterfront. 

Pulling Together to Revitalize Detroit

To help get the $350 million Renaissance Center built, Henry Ford II enlisted the support of Ford Motor Company and other Detroit-area companies to finance the sleek complex of towers that included hotel and office development.

In June 1975, topping-out ceremonies were held for the first of four 39-story towers. There was also one 77-story center tower. The architect was John Portman.

Henry Ford II was such an undaunted supporter of the Renaissance Center that he moved Ford Division corporate offices to the cluster of majestic spires along the Detroit River. Ford Division returned to Dearborn in the late 1990s.

Detroit Continues to Move Forward

Today, this unmistakable hub of glass and steel towers—called "the RenCen" by locals—is the gleaming center of Detroit's skyline and a symbol of the city's ongoing revitalization. It is now the world headquarters of one of Ford Motor Company's automotive rivals, General Motors Corporation.

Although it no longer houses Ford operations, it stands as a testament to Henry Ford II's civic loyalty and commitment. Impressive and enduring, the RenCen remains a beacon of strength that invites people to visit and companies to locate in Detroit.