On this date, March 6, 1896, Charles Brady King drove the first automobile in Detroit, several months before Henry Ford piloted his first car.
The following day, the Detroit Free Press reported: "The first horseless carriage seen in this city was out on the streets last night. It is the invention of Charles B. King, a Detroiter, and its progress up Woodward Avenue about 11 o'clock caused a deal of comment, people crowding around it so that its progress was impeded. The apparatus seemed to work all right, and went at the rate of 5 or 6 miles an hour at an even rate of speed."
King, an inventor of several mechanical devices (including the pneumatic hammer), was inspired by Gottlieb Daimler's horseless carriage, which he had seen at the 1893 World Exposition in Chicago three years prior to exhibiting his own version. The Detroit Journal later quoted the inventor:
"Horseless carriages are extensively used in Paris as delivery wagons, carriages, and even ambulances. I understand the Prince of Wales has ordered one. They are much in vogue among the English aristocracy, and will undoubtedly soon be here. I am convinced they will in time supercede the horse."
He got that right. Thus, in a way, the first-ever Woodward Dream Cruise took place 116 years ago today.