The origin of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle was in a 10-foot by 15-foot shed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Motorcycle parts are still made in Milwaukee, and in other states also. There is an assembly plant in Brazil, but all parts are manufactured in the United States.
In 1901, William S. Harley created his first blueprint for a bicycle engine. Working in a shed with Arthur Davidson, the first Harley-Davidson motor bicycle was released in 1903. Arthur’s brother Walter Davidson joined, followed by William, a third Davidson brother, in 1907. Harley-Davidson Motor Co. was incorporated in 1907.
One of the first bikes sold was to the founders’ schoolfriend Henry Meyer of Milwaukee. The first of numerous Harley-Davidson dealerships was C.H. Lang in Chicago.
The first Harley-Davidson factory opened in 1906 on Juneau Street, Milwaukee, with a larger facility opening in 1912. In 1947, the Capitol Drive plant was added, with a product development center opening alongside in 1973.
In 1973, Harley-Davidson assembly moved to York, Pennsylvania. In 1962, Harley-Davidson bought Tomahawk Boat Manufacturing Co. in Wisconsin to make fiberglass parts. A new engine and transmission facility opened in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, in 1997. In 1998, the first overseas assembly plant opened in Manaus, Brazil.
In 1969, Harley-Davidson merged with AMF, the American Machine and Foundry Co. In 1981, Harley-Davidson executives bought the company back.
The first Harley-Davidson motorcycle was a pedal bicycle with a single-cylinder gasoline engine. Harley-Davidson released its first iconic V-twin engine in 1909.