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Oakland County's 2015 Heritage Conference showcases Woodward Avenue past, present and future

A guided bus tour of Woodward Avenue, part of the original Saginaw Trail first blazed by Native Americans centuries ago, is one among many highlights of Oakland County's 18th annual Heritage Conference.

The event is set for Friday, Sept. 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Local Kitchen & Bar, 344 W. Nine Mile Road in Ferndale. Registration is $49 and can be made at www.AdvantageOakland.EventBrite.com. Continental breakfast, lunch, bus tour and two historical site tours are included.

"This is an opportunity to learn about the fascinating history of our region and how the trail evolved from a foot path to an All American Road," Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said.

The "rolling tour" of Woodward is the first year of a two-year Heritage Conference program built on "Tracking and Transforming Our Routes," a study of the historic Saginaw Trail and its evolution as it cuts across Oakland County. The 2015 focus is on Woodward between Ferndale and Pontiac. In 2016, Dixie Highway will be covered from Pontiac to Holly.

The Woodward Avenue component is organized around three areas: historical and cultural influences; physical development; and economic growth and the future.

This year's conference includes the first reveal of the recently restored Wisner School in Pontiac and a private viewing of "History's Highways: The Story of Woodward Avenue" exhibit at the Birmingham Historical Museum & Park.

Two keynote sessions will be delivered by placemaking experts: Donovan Rypkema, principal of the Washington D.C.-based PlaceEconomics; and Bill Fontana, executive director of the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, Harrisburg, Pa. Rypkema, internationally known for his revitalization and historic preservation expertise, will open the conference with "The Economics of Placemaking in A Transportation Corridor." Fontana will end the day with "Nature-Based Placemaking" and a look forward to 2016's focus on the more rural Dixie Highway.

The Heritage Conference is sponsored by the Oakland County Planning Division.
 
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