The Flint Arches – A Brief Look Back
In 1899 the Saginaw Street arches were one of the first of its kind to bring electrical lighting to a community main street in the United States. In 1905 as part of Flint’s Golden Jubilee, the Vehicle City Arch was added, a source of community pride that celebrated Flint’s proud heritage of building horse drawn carriages that were shipped across the country and around the world. They also were a harbinger of the automotive industry that blossomed here under the direction of automotive pioneers like Billy Durant, Dallas Dort, David Dunbar Buick, Louis Chevrolet and Walter Chrysler.
Those far-sighted gentlemen helped to form General Motors and put the world in gasoline powered automobiles. The arches stood until 1919 when they were ordered to be torn down by the Flint City Council. It is a sad irony that automobiles caused the demise of the arches as they were constructed on street corners and had to make way for traffic lights to manage the growing number of vehicles in the fast growing industrial city of Flint.
The Arches Are Brought Back to Life
In 2002, a group of volunteer citizens developed a plan to create new arches under the authority of the Genesee County Historical Society. In eleven short months the group raised enough money from businesses, nonprofits and individual citizens to have the arches rebuilt. On a cold November evening November 29,2003 seven arches were raised along Saginaw Street between six and 11 p.m. (Click here to see video of the installation.) The arches were lighted once again in that same month exactly 104 years after they were first lit on Saginaw Street. Two additional arches were added at a later time. In 2005 during the Flint Sesquicentennial, General Motors sponsored the Arch in front of the Courthouse. The Sesquicentennial Committee and Genesee County sponsored another arch in front of City Hall. Both were installed on May 12, 2008.