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Aerial view of 255-acre tract purchased by General Motors Corporation - 1951

General Motors Buys East Arlington Site

This was the bold headline in an EXTRA edition of the Arlington Journal Sunday, August 5, 1951. Following is the text of that article.

Release Confirms Many of Rumors

General Motors announced at 3 p.m. Saturday that it has bought a 250-acre plant site on the east edge of Arlington. The announcement confirmed rumors which had been current in the city for many weeks. The text of the official announcement read as follows:

“The Buick-Oldsmobile-Pontiac Assembly Division of General Motors Corporation today announced the acquisition of a 250-acre tract of land situated between Fort Worth and Dallas for a possible future manufacturing or assembly operation. The land lies in Tarrant County on the eastern edge of the City of Arlington on U.S. Highway 80 adjacent to the Texas and Pacific Railroad. John F. Gordon, Vice President and Group Executive in charge of the Body and Hardware Assembly Division stated that future plans for development of the property depended upon availability of materials.” The release was issued by T. Grohn of the General Motors Public Relations Department.

Left to right: J. L. Conlon, unidentified man, and John F. Gordon pose with shovels at the ground breaking ceremony for the General Motors plant to be constructed in Arlington, Texas. Mr. Conlon is general manager of the General Motors Buick-Oldsmobile-Pontiac division. Mr. Gordon is vice president in charge of body and assembly division of General Motors. Arlington Mayor Tom Vandergriff is standing behind the men.

Saturday’s announcement finally provided some facts to back up the speculation that has been rampant in the Arlington community since soon after the first options were taken on the property in question.

The site lies on the east edge of Arlington, between East Abram Street and the T. & P. tracks. It includes, among other properties, the land on which the Charles Mathes home now stands, the land only recently bought by the Church of God for a Texas state headquarters, and the land purchased some months ago for a housing development by a group of Fort Worth investors including E. L. Baker, Dixon J. Holman, and Dr. Law Sone.

Part of the General Motors site lies within the city limits of Arlington. All the rest will be inside the city limits when Arlington city council gives final reading to an annexation ordinance, recently given first reading, which extends the city’s borders eastward toward the Dallas County line.

Although the General Motors announcement Saturday did not specify what the company intends to do with the site it had purchased, it can be reasonably assumed that it plans to erect a sizeable plant on it in the near future. Reports have been current that the plant would be devoted to defense work at first and later would be converted to peacetime production.

Thus, the new plant is expected by persons “in the know” to give Arlington a big permanent increase in population. Rumors have had it that the plant would provide employment for anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 persons. Arlington businessmen expect that the plant will give a big boost to their sales, as more and more families move into the community. With the Arlington housing situation already “tight,” the pressure for more homes can be expected to result in the construction of many new homes in all parts of the community.

The General Motors announcement was released at 3 p.m. Saturday to the Associated Press in Fort Worth, and from there went out to newspapers all over the nation with an Arlington dateline.

Thus the new plant in Arlington will mean that the name and reputation of this community will be spread much more widely than it ever has until now.

General Motors Arlington, TX Assembly Plant today

Editor’s Notes: Indeed, the decision by General Motors to build a plant in Arlington was a key turning point in the history of Arlington’s astounding growth. Most of the credit for this and many subsequent key events in Arlington’s history belongs to Tom Vandergriff, who served as Arlington’s Mayor from 1951 to 1977. Ground was broken for the new GM plant on May 27, 1952, and construction commenced shortly thereafter. Recall the sentence in the 1951 Journal article, “Reports have been current that the plant would be devoted to defense work at first and later would be converted to peacetime production.” Actually, GM had contemplated initially using the new plant for the production of Grumman-designed airplanes for the Navy. However, even before construction of the new plant was complete, GM lost this contract with the Navy. Thus, from the beginning the plant was used for assembly of GM automobiles. The first automobile off the assembly line was a black, 4-door 1954 Pontiac Chieftain, on January 6, 1954.

GM Arlington in 2018

  • 4,125 employees
  • $1 million in daily wages
  • 3 shifts/day, 6 days/week
  • Approximately 1,200 vehicles produced daily
  • Only GM facility in the world to produce and export GM's portfolio of full-size sport utility vehicles:
    • GMC Yukon
    • Chevrolet Suburban & Tahoe
    • Cadillac Escalade