#MIHistory – April 10: The Inventor of the Concept Car

Automotive designer Harley Earl died on this day in 1969.

Earl was the inventor of the “concept car,” a marketing device automakers now regularly use to showcase their engineering and design potential. As a General Motors designer, he was the innovator who developed style icons such as the tail fin and the Chevrolet Corvette. He also led GM’s vehicle camouflage efforts during WWII.

He died following a stroke in West Palm Beach, Fla., at the age of 75.

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General Motors designer Harley Earl sits inside the Buick Y-Job, the industry’s first concept car.


#MIWeekend – April 7-9: Lakes and Fools

This week’s surprise snowstorm is supposed to give way to spring-like weather across the state this weekend, with sunny skies across the state on Saturday and temperatures reaching from the mid-60s in the Upper Peninsula to nearly 70 in the southern part of the Lower Peninsula on Sunday. So make the most of it, whether working in your garden, visiting a local lake or taking part in a community event. The Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society hosts an exhibit called Lake Life: History of Our Local Lakes free of charge Saturday. And on Sunday, Ann Arbor hosts the annual Festifools hour-long celebration of papier-mâché puppets — don’t be late!

Our representatives are hosting a large number of events around the state where you can talk about recent legislative proposals, learn about the state budget or give your ideas about how to make Michigan a better place to live. Events in the coming week include: Continue reading

#MIHistory – April 3: Michigan Becomes First State to Repeal Prohibition

On this day in 1933, Michigan became the first state to ratify the repeal of federal prohibition.

With our state’s close proximity to Canada, Michigan became a center for bootlegging and rumrunning. Some experts believe that three-quarters of all the illegal alcohol in the U.S. during the prohibition era entered the country via the Detroit River. Additional stores of alcohol were produced illegally in Detroit. By 1928, it was estimated that there were between 16,000 and 25,000 speakeasies in the Detroit area.

The illegal alcohol trade brought crime as well. Detroit’s Purple Gang used violence to secure their hold on the alcohol trade in the region. The gang was brought down by the Collingwood Manor Massacre, in which members of the Purple Gang gunned down three rival gang members. Police caught the perpetrators and they were sentenced to jail.

Tired of the criminal activity and violence, Michiganders were eager to end the experiment of prohibition. When the amendment to repeal it passed through Congress, our state became the first to ratify it.

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Federal agents destroy the Purple Gang’s liquor during a raid in Detroit.

#MIWeekend – March 30: For the Birds

April is almost here, and events around the state are celebrating the arrival of spring. The River Raisin National Battlefield Park is hosting a free French Easter celebration on April 1, where you can learn about French and French-Canadian traditions and crafts. On the other side of the state, you can visit ducks and geese returning from their winter homes down south at the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary in Augusta, and on Sunday, celebrate the birthday of W.K. Kellogg with free admission to the sanctuary.

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The Kellogg Bird Sanctuary in Augusta, Mich.

If you want to connect with your legislators in the coming week, there are several opportunities. Also, the Michigan House Democrats have announced a nine-stop listening tour taking place over the coming weeks, including events on Sunday in Hancock in the Upper Peninsula. Other events this week include: Continue reading