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Norwayne Subdivision / Norwayne Subdivision

In 1942, the National Housing Agency designed and built the Norwayne Subdivision to provide rental housing for nearby WWII defense factory workers. It cost $12 million dollars and was then the largest public housing project in the Detroit area. Norwayne was home to employees of the Willow Run Bomber Plant, Bendix Aviation Corporation, Stinson Aircraft Corporation, and the Wayne County Asylum. It included two elementary schools, a shopping plaza, a fire station and a church. The schools offered daycare facilities for children whose mothers worked at the defense factories. Twenty-three bus routes provided large scale public transportation in the face of wartime gas rationing.The Norwayne Subdivision’s curving streets followed Federal Housing Administration standards and were named for Michigan counties and towns. Each single and multi-family home was set back the same distance from the street. Due to war-time restrictions on labor and building materials, houses had no basements, minimal interior spaces and limited exterior decoration. In 1948, Nankin Township assumed control of the subdivision from the federal government, and houses were sold to private homeowners. A 1956 tax assessment paid for the concrete streets with curbs and gutters. Norwayne Historic District, which covers 325 acres, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

Plaque via Michigan History Center

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