“We hope for better things; it shall rise from the ashes.”
These words form the motto of the city of Detroit and truly encapsulate the tenacity of the people’s spirit. It’s a translation of the city’s motto in Latin – Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus. Since the city’s foundation in 1701, Detroit has played a significant role in shaping the economy, culture and history of the nation. In spite of massive challenges throughout the years, the city has remained resilient and continues to reinvent itself for the new century.
Detroit is the largest city in Michigan State. It is located to the north of Windsor, Ontario and is the only major American city on the border of U.S. and Canada where one travels south to reach the neighboring country. At the same time, Detroit has four border crossings, and the busiest of these border crossing is the Ambassador Bridge that spans the Detroit River.
The city area measures 143 square kilometers or 370 square miles. Of this, land makes up 138.8 square miles or 359 square kilometers while water accounts for 4.2 square miles or 11 square kilometers of the city. The total urban size is a staggering 1,295 square miles or 3,350 square kilometers, while the metropolitan area swells to 3,913 square miles or 10,130 square kilometers. Part of the city sits on an elevation of 670 feet or 200 meters at the neighborhood at the University District while its lowest point is around 579 feet or 176 meters near the river, around the Grosse Pointe communities in the northeast side of the city.
Detroit is synonymous with the American auto industry, earning the city the moniker “Motor City” and has been one of the leaders of industry in the country. The city ranks as one of the country’s largest metropolitan cities in the last century. In 2007, the city of Detroit earned the city the eleventh spot among the most populated cities in America, despite the fact that the recent decade has seen a shift in the city’s population.
The city of Detroit falls under Wayne County and it also serves as the county seat of Wayne. As of 2010, Detroit ranked as the 18th most populated city in the country, with a city population of 713,777 people. The Metro Detroit area has a population of almost 4.3 million residents covering six counties under the Metropolitan Statistical Area. The combined Detroit-Windsor area has a population of 5.7 million residents and covers ten counties.
Given the size of the city and the number of residents within the city limits, its population density is close to 5,000 residents per square mile or 1,929 people per square kilometer. The urban density is at 2,984 individuals per square mile or 1,153 residents per square kilometer, while the metropolitan population density is at 1,098 persons for each square mile or 424 individuals per square kilometer.
Metro Detroit is not only a populous city; it is also a diversified one as well. In fact, the city has an emerging Hispanic population. In the last decade and a half, the city’s Hispanic residents have doubled in size. At the same time, the median income of the city’s Hispanics went up, increasing their spending power to more than $2 billion. Although English has always been the primary language in Detroit, Spanish has also become a commonly spoken language in the city, due largely to the growing Hispanic population. This means that there is a growing demand for documents, items and other information in Spanish. For those doing business in Detroit, using the services of a professional language translation service provider may be useful.
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Detroit is served by three airports, the largest being the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. This is also the main hub used by Delta Air Lines. It is likewise the secondary hub for Spirit Airlines. Willow Run Airport and Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport are the other two airports of the metropolitan area. Nearby is Bishop International Airport, which is located in Flint, Michigan. At the same time, there are four heliports in the city, three of which belong to hospitals, while one is for a news channel. The city is also served by Amtrak with the station located on Baltimore Avenue. To link Detroit to the rest of America, there are four interstate freeways that pass through the city: I-75, I-96, I-94 and I-275.
Law-breaking is a major concern in the city of Detroit, with a crime index of 879.2 in 2010, compared to the national average of 319.1. It ranked second on the list of 100 least-safe cities in the country. Although this may seem alarming, the rate of law-breaking has been steadily going down since 2006. Thefts, auto thefts, burglaries and assaults are the most commonly reported unlawful offenses in the city. Fortunately, the city has more than 3,200 full time law enforcement employees to ensure the resident’s safety. At the same time, there are close to 2,900 full time police officers or 3.21 officers per 1,000 residents, compared to the state average of only 1.88 officers per 1,000 residents.
Visitors to Detroit should take extra precautions to ensure their safety. Reports of holdups, carjacking and drive-by shootings may intimidate visitors, but the city of Detroit deserves a second look, with all the fine attractions the city has to offer. Just like in other major cities, many tourist spots are secure, although it is always necessary to be mindful of your surroundings and to keep a close eye on your belongings at all times. Keep a low profile by refraining from wearing expensive and flashy jewelry, designer bags and expensive clothing, especially if you plan to walk around. Avoid staying out late at night. It’s best to keep your original travel documents locked in your hotel safe. Keep an extra credit card in your hotel safe as well, so you have a backup in case of an emergency. You might also choose to bring traveler’s checks, which are easy to replace in case they were stolen. When driving in the city, lock your car doors and keep your windows rolled up. Park only in well-lit areas and stow away all valuables. Most of the gang activity is located in the suburban residential areas and many hotels have security to ensure the safety of guests. If you get heckled by gangs, ignore it by avoiding eye contact and staying away from disreputable areas. For your peace of mind, carrying pepper spray may help, although vigilance and common sense are still your best defense.
The climate in the city is quite extreme. Visitors could expect a humid continental climate when visiting Detroit. Due to the city’s location by the Great Lakes, Detroit’s climate could be quite cold and snow is to be expected, especially between the months of December and February. Snow might measure an average of 43.7 inches or 111 centimeters a season. During the winter season, the evening temperatures might drop below 0 °F or -17.8 °C. On the other hand, the summer season is quite hot, with temperatures hitting 90 °F or 32.2 °C. January is the coldest month where temperatures stay in the low 20 °F or around -6.7 °C, while July is the hottest month, with temperatures averaging 83 °F or 28.3 °C a day. There are 126 rainy days in a given year or about 30 inches of rain annually, while sunny days are at about 183 days out of the year.
Travelers to Detroit could expect many great things from the Renaissance City. No wonder Detroit continues to attract investors, businessmen, travelers and people looking for excitement.
The history of Detroit has been shaped by the countries of France, Great Britain and the United States. Detroit’s history dates back to 1701, when French explorer Antoine de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac founded the city along the northern bank of the Detroit River. The city got its name from this river, which in French is called le détroit du Lac Érié, or strait of Lake Erie. Cadillac established the settlement along with 51 other French Canadians and called it Fort Ponchartrain du Détroit. To bring families to the area, the French government offered families free land, so that within six decades, there were more than 800 people in the area. During this time, the fur trade in the region accounted for the area’s economic prosperity.
Fort Detroit’s control transferred from the French to the British in 1760 after the French and Indian War, who then changed the name to Detroit. Under the British rule Fort Detroit was attacked by several Native American tribes that were led by Chief Pontiac, which compelled the British government to place restriction on creating white settlements in the territory of the Indians. By virtue of the Jay Treaty in 1796, Detroit was placed under the control of the United States. Detroit was first incorporated as a town in 1802, suffered a massive fire in 1805, before becoming incorporated as a city in 1806. However, due to some hidden agenda and dissatisfaction of the community, an act was passed in 1810 repealing all the laws passed by the previous city government and abolished its legitimacy. A new city charter was created in 1815, after Detroit was again placed under the United States after briefly being seized by the British during the War of 1812.
By the 1830s, shipping, shipbuilding and manufacturing were industries that ushered the city’s move into the industrial age. Detroit also served as the state capital from 1805 to 1847.
The 19th and 20th century saw the beautiful transformation of the city, with the rise of the Gilded Age mansions and structures in the city. For this reason, the city was often called the Paris of the West. By the early 19th century, Detroit also became home to over 45,000 residents. Labor unions such as the United Auto Workers rose into prominence alongside with the massive industrialization of the city, especially with the spectacular growth of the automotive industry during this period.
Detroit is the second oldest city in Michigan after Sault Ste. Marie. It published one of its early newspapers, the Detroit Free Press previously named as the Democratic Free Press in 1837. Detroit hosted the country’s first State Fair in 1849, with the Michigan State Fair and in 1879 became the first city in the world to have a conventions and visitors bureau. This was also the same year when it became the first city to assign phone numbers to its residents.
Detroit’s history has been strongly shaped by the auto industry. The automobile shop established by Henry Ford in 1896 revolutionized the automotive industry and placed Detroit on the map. His first horseless carriage, powered by ethanol and called the Ford Quadcycle was produced in that shop. In 1903, the Ford Motor Company, the first car assembly line manufacturing company was established. It paved the way for other huge car manufacturing companies such as Chevrolet and General Motors of William Durant; Dodge by brothers Horace Elgin and John Francis Dodge; Packard, founded by William Doud and James Ward Packard and George L. Weiss; and Chrysler, which was founded by Walter Percy Chrysler. The city also boasts of having the first mile of paved road in the world, when it paved Woodward Avenue between M-6 and M-7 roads as early as 1909. In 1920, Detroit was also the first city to have a stoplight in the country, which was installed as the intersection of Woodward and Michigan Avenues. In 1930, Detroit built the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, the first tunnel used by vehicles leading to a foreign country. In 1942, it also became the first city to build the first urban freeway, the Davison.
By the 1940s, a third of Michigan’s population resided in Detroit, while the metropolitan area accounted for half of the state’s residents. Black workers from the south migrated in droves to the city in the mid-20th century, as well as thousands of European immigrants, resulting in racial tensions in the 1943 riot as well as the Twelfth Street Riot of 1967. Despite the social unrest, the city’s population continued to grow as the city’s economy continued to thrive.
In the 1970s, the city’s auto industry began to decline because of the influx of foreign auto manufacturers. To this day, the Detroit auto industry continues to struggle amidst the rising fuel prices, stiff competition from Japanese and European car manufacturers and changing consumer demands. However, true to the city’s tenacity, Detroit continues to reinvent itself for the 21st century by bringing in new industries to the city.
At the end of the 20th century, the city invested in new developments to stimulate the local economy, such as the construction of the Renaissance Center, as well as the revival of various neighborhoods in the city and the development of the city’s riverfront. By the turn of the 21st century, Detroit has been host to a number of important events, such as the 2005 MLB All Star Game, the 2006 Super Bowl XL and the 2006 World Series. The city has also become a center for medical research and facilities. It is also home to a number of Fortune 500 companies. Despite the decrease in population, Detroit is still one of the largest cities in America and remains to be one of the most culturally influential cities in the world, giving rise to music genres such as Motown and techno.
Detroit remains an exciting city that is once again poised to reinvent itself into something new. From a fort focused on the fur trade in the 18th century, to rebuilding from the city’s ashes to become an industry leader in the automotive industry in the 19th and 20th century, it is now an innovator in the field of technology and research as it makes headway into the new millennium. Detroit has clearly proven itself to be truly a Renaissance city.
Historically, the city of Detroit is one of the largest American cities. In recent years, the population of the city has been on the decline, due to massive migration out of the city attributed to the loss of jobs and other work opportunities. In 2010, the city’s population is at 713,777, a population change of -25% in the last decade. Detroit has 269,445 households, as well as 162,924 families.
There are more females than males in the city, at 52.7% versus 47.3%. The city’s median resident age is 34.8 years old, which is more than a decade lower than the Michigan state median age of 45.5 years old.
The predominant ethnic group in the city is Black, making up more than 82% of the city’s population. Whites account for over 10% of the city’s population, with ancestries from Poland, Germany, Sub-Saharan Africa, Ireland and America. On the other hand, Hispanics are a growing demographic in the city, with 6.8% or more than 48,000 residents of Hispanic or Latin American ancestry. Asians make up 1% of the population, while American Indians, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander and other races make up less than a percentage. The city also has the most number of Hmong people (Asian ethnic group from Vietnam, Laos, China and Thailand) in the country. As of 2009 the median household income of Hispanics is Detroit is $48,418 while their home ownership is quite high, at 58.07%.
More than 45,000 of the city’s residents or 4.8% of the population are born on foreign soil, the bulk of which come from Latin America such as Mexico and Puerto Rico, while the rest come from Asia and different parts of Europe.
Almost 70% of the city’s residents have a high school diploma or higher, while 11% have a Bachelor’s degree and 4.2% have a graduate or professional degree. This is lower than the state average. As many as 47% of the city’s residents are considered functionally illiterate. The majority of the city’s residents have never married, with just over 31% of the city’s residents now married. Households with unmarried partners make up 7% of total households in the city, while family households are more than 60%.
As of 2009, more than 36% of the city’s residents are living in poverty, affecting Whites, Blacks, Hispanics and other races quite evenly. The average household in the city has 2.6 residents. At the same time, only about 37.7% of the city’s residents are affiliated with a religious congregation. Half of these belong to the Catholic Church, while those going to other Christian churches (Lutheran, Baptist and Methodist) make up 36% of the church-going population. The city’s Muslim population is at 6%.
The economy of Detroit has been closely tied with the nation’s overall economic health. The Detroit MSA generated a gross metropolitan product of $197.7 billion in 2010, produced by the city’s workforce of 2.1 million. The city’s leaders continue to be innovative to constantly bring in new companies and industries to the city, making Detroit into a business-friendly environment.
Detroit is home to 13 Fortune 500 Companies. This is the home base of Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Dow Chemical. GMAC, Whirlpool, Kellogg, TRW Automotive Holdings, Lear, Penske Automotive Group, DETE Energy, Masco and Stryker are also based in Motor City. Other companies that have a presence in the city are Compuware, Quicken Loans, OnStar, Blue Cross Blue Shield and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Technology companies are also making its presence felt in the city. The Detroit Region is also home to over a hundred companies in alternative energy technology. Life sciences are another major industry in the city, with more than 525 companies and 40,000 employees, making it one of the fastest growing industries in the city.
The automotive industry is the major shaper of the economic landscape of the city. Ford Motor Co. is the city’s largest employer, while General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC are other major automaker employers in the city. Together, the Big Three auto manufacturers employ about a fifth of the city’s workforce and produce employment opportunities wherein one out of every ten jobs in the city is in an auto industry-related company. The University of Michigan is the second largest employer in the city. The health care industry is also an important employer in Detroit, with Henry Ford Health Systems, William Beaumont Hospitals, St. John Providence Health and Trinity Health making it on the list of the city’s top ten employers. The U.S. Government and Detroit Public Schools are also top job generators in Detroit.
The city’s port plays a major role in its economy. The Port of Detroit serves as a major port on the Detroit River for the Midwest region of the United States, with two full service terminals equipped to handle all cargo types. At the same time, more than 4,000 factories are located in the Detroit area.
The city’s casinos are considered a major player in the economy of Detroit. In 2007, the casino market of the city placed it as the fifth largest market for gambling in the country. Detroit is now one of the largest cities in the U.S. with casino resort hotels.
Detroit is a financial center, with the four major accounting firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu present in the city. It is home to several international banks and financial institutions and real estate investment trust companies. Its information technology industry is one the rise with several computer and telecommunications industry giants like Google, IBM, Unisys, General Electric, HP Enterprise Services, Comcast, Covansys, Verizon and Compuware maintaining headquarters in Detroit.
The residents of Detroit have an estimated median household income of $26,098 as of 2009, which is almost half the median Michigan state average of $45,255. A home in the city costs about $67,000, which is also about half the median home value in the state of $132,200, while rent is only at $749 a month. The city’s cost of living index is only at 89.2, which means that Detroit is a highly affordable place to reside.
The city’s unemployment rate as of March 2012 is at 16.9%, higher than the Michigan state average of 9%. Fortunately, it has been on a steady decline since it peaked in 2009 at 25%.
The most common industries in the city are transportation equipment, construction, administrative and support and waste management services, accommodation and food services, public administration, health care and educational services. The city has also been spending billions of dollars to rehabilitate and transform the downtown area. At the same time, more than $15 billion in new investments have been pumped into the local economy to help restructure the economic landscape of the city.
The increase in automation has transformed the employment landscape, pushing employees to develop their skills to remain competitive. At the same time, the demand for more energy-efficient vehicles has compelled the Big Three automakers to intensify research and development of alternative energy sources for vehicles, such as fuel cell-powered vehicles, biodiesel and lithium ion batteries. This has also translated into an increased optimism and a positive outlook for a strong rebound in the city’s future.
Detroit has a number of attractions spread all over the city. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re a traveler looking for history, architecture, art or culture or want something that the whole family would enjoy.
The Detroit Institute of Arts is the fifth largest museum in the United States. At the same time, it is the second largest municipally owned museum in the country. The museum’s art collection, which is spread over 100 galleries and 658,000 square feet of exhibition space, is valued at over a billion dollars. The American art collection is the third largest among museums in the country, featuring works from as early as the 18th century. Aside from American and European art, visitors would also see a wide collection of Roman, Greek, Etruscan, Egyptian and Mesopotamian works and various media from Islamic, Asian and African nations. The museum was established in 1885, and the building itself is an architectural beauty, making it part of the city’s Cultural Center Historic District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Detroit Historical Museum chronicles the city’s history and is the cornerstone of Detroit’s Cultural Center Historic District located in the midtown area. The permanent exhibits are “The Motor City Exhibition” that chronicles the city’s development into the automotive capital of the world, complete with an assembly line; and “Frontiers to Factories.” Model T Automotive Heritage Complex chronicles the company’s Ford Piquette Avenue plant that has been preserved to show visitors how this historic automobile came to be. The 1904 plant appears just as it did when Henry Ford first started working on this type of automobile.
Automobile enthusiasts might also want to see some auto heritage sites in Detroit, such as the Clara and Henry Ford home, located on 140 Edison Avenue. It is a private residence and not open to the public, but visitors could still pass by one of the most important homes in the city. The John F. Dodge Residence served as the home of one of the major stockholders of the company in 1906, and is being used as the home of the Archdiocese of Detroit. Fisher Building is a National Historic Landmark in the city, since the 1928 building has long been associated with the Fisher family, which was instrumental in developing the nation’s auto industry. Another important building in the city is Cadillac Place, a National Historic Landmark, as it served as the General Motors Building in 1923.
Hitsville USA or the Motown Historical Museum is located on West Grand Blvd. in Detroit. This is where travelers would find Studio A, where many of Motown’s greatest artists recorded with the Funk brothers. Marvin Gaye and the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Jackson 5 and the Four Tops were just some of the popular artists that made their mark here.
The Detroit International Riverfront is a five and a half mile wide area with parks, restaurants, shops, important buildings and residential buildings and showcases the best of Detroit. The Joe Louis Arena, home of the NHL team Detroit Red Wings and the 220,000 square meter Cobo Convention Exhibition Center, venue for the annual Autorama and North American International Auto Show are also found here. The complex is also the location of the River Walk, a pedestrian and biking path offering a scenic view, carousel, covered seating and a number of concessions to enjoy. There are also the Dequindre Cut Greenway and Trail, a public art park where you could find some masterpieces of graffiti art, as well as the William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor, the only state park found in an urban area with a 52-slip harbor. Cruise ships also dock at Hart Plaza, a 14-acre plaza decorated with the Horace E. Dodge and Son Memorial Fountain. It is also here that the world’s only international wildlife preserve in the country is found, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. This stretches for 48 miles from the Detroit River and Western Lake Erie.
The Renaissance Center or RenCen is a network of skyscrapers owned by General Motors. Since 1977, it is the tallest building in the state and is also one of the largest office space complexes in the world. Here, visitors would see an auto display center called GM World. The center tower is the Detroit Marriott, which is the tallest hotel skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. The largest rooftop restaurant this side of the world, the Coach Insignia, is located here.
The amphitheater at Chene Park is the venue for many summer concerts that feature a wide range of musical genres such as jazz, R & B and classic soul. On the other hand, Stroh River Place is a National Historic Landmark of the city.
Belle Isle, an island park measuring 98 3acres, purchased by Detroit’s forefathers for $200,000 in 1879. Its more than five miles of shoreline gives visitors scenic views of Canada, the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit. It is connected to the mainland by way of the Macarthur Bridge, the name given to the bridge in 1942. Here, visitors could explore the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, a 13-acre garden on Belle Isle and its large collection of orchids including rare ones, most of which were bequeathed by Ms. Whitcomb, among other plants. It also has a half-mile swimming beach. Dating back to 1904, it is the oldest conservatory in the country. Belle Isle has a golf course. It is likewise the base of the Detroit Yacht Club and the Detroit Boat Club. You could also see the mammoth James Scott Memorial Fountain on the island. Its diameter is 510 feet, has 109 water outlets in the shape of humans, lions, turtles and dolphins and a central fountain that could shoot water 125 feet into the air. The bachelor left his entire fortune to the city for the creation of his memorial. The Dossin Great Lakes Museum is located in the island. This is a maritime museum that boasts of the biggest scale-model ship collection anywhere in the world. It is also here where the bow anchor of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald could be found.
Detroit Zoo is home to 6,800 animals from 270 different species spread on 125 acres of land. Some of the interesting animals found here are trumpeter swans and Partula snails. There is a kangaroo habitat, butterfly house, aviary and a rainforest room. The zoo promotes conservation and animal protection and receives over a million visitors each year.
Detroit Science Center has a number of interactive displays featuring various science concepts, an IMAX dome, theater, planetarium, theater, a science stage, an 8,700 square foot-science hall, and a special section just for little ones. More than 2.1 million visitors come to one of the ten largest science museums in America.
With so many attractions around the city, travelers would find endless options to stay entertained while visiting one of the most important cities in the world.
Detroit culture is quite fascinating and many of the city’s residents regularly participate in the city’s festivals and concerts. Two thirds of the city’s residents dine out or attend cultural shows or watch professional games in Detroit. Although many of the city’s residents have been moving out of the city in the last decade, there are a growing number of young professionals that are being lured by the downtown area’s revitalized developments.
The Detroit music scene is undoubtedly one of the most influential in the country. After all, this is the birthplace of Motown. The city has a number of live music venues, such as the Palace of Auburn Hills and DTE Energy Music Theater. The city takes pride in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, which is the fourth oldest symphony orchestra in the United States and performs at the Orchestra Hall. There is also the Detroit Opera House, Majestic Theater and St. Andrews Hall. At the same time, the city is host to a number of prestigious music festivals, such as the Ann Arbor Folk Festival, Ferndale Metro Blues Festival in January; MetroTimes Blowout in March; Detroit Music Awards in May; Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival in June; Michigan Elvisfest in July, Detroit International Jazz Festival in September (which is the largest free music event in the country), the hip hop Summer Jamz Festival, the Urban Organic Music Conference and the Concert of Colors. The Motor City Music conference is held every May for bands all over the world.
Historically, Detroit is a hotbed for various musical talents and genres. In the 1950s, it became a jazz center, producing talents such as Donald Byrd and Pepper Adams. By the 1960s, R&B made it big in the city, producing greats such as Nolan Strong and Nathaniel Mayer under Fortune Records label.
Motown Records is undoubtedly the most famous and prominent of the record labels to come out of Detroit, with hit makers such as Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Temptations, Jackson 5, Gladys Knight and the Pips and Marvin Gaye. Funk Brothers is the label’s house band, which also rose into prominence. The city produced the distinct Motown Sound, a genre of music that held mass appeal to a wide number of people. It is also important to note that Motown is the first music label owned by Blacks and also mainly featured Black artists.
In the 1980s, Detroit also became a hotbed for hardcore punk rock, with bands such as The Necros and The Meatmen rising into prominence. In the 1990s, the hiphop scene exploded with Detroit’s top selling hip hop artist Eminem, producer J Dilla and rapper Esham. Given the amazing talent in Detroit, it is not surprising that the city is also the birthplace of techno music, with artists such as Juan Atkins and Kevin Saunderson rising into prominence. Garage Rock genre also had a place in the music scene of Detroit, with musicians such as The White Stripes, The Dirtbombs and Electric Six emerging into the mainstream.
The Detroit Theater District is the city’s answer to New York’s Broadway theater district. In fact, the largest controller of Broadway productions in New York started when the Nederlander family bought the Detroit Opera House in 1922, and this group later became the Nederlander Organization. This is the country’s second largest area of Broadway performances, with major venues such as Fox Theater, Music Hall, Gem Theater and Masonic Temple Theatre. Film is also an important cultural aspect of the city. This is the home of Motown Motion Picture Studios and employs about 4,000 people.
There are 30 art museums in the city. The fifth largest fine arts museum in the country is here, the Detroit Institute of Arts, while the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is the largest African American historical museum in the country. The visual and performing arts are celebrated every June with the Detroit Festival of the Arts. Art in the Park in the summer is a congregation of over a hundred artists in Heritage Park, while Ann Arbor Street Art Fair is rated as the top art fair in the country held every July.
Residents of Detroit are quite active and sports play a major role in their daily lives. The city has four stadiums. Ford Field is the largest, with a seating capacity of 65,000 people and is the home field of the Detroit Lions football team. Comerica Park has a seating capacity of more than 41,000 people and is the home of the baseball team Detroit Tigers. There is also Joe Louis Area, home of the hockey team Detroit Red Wings and the Michigan State Fairgrounds Coliseum located in Wayne State University.
Michigan is also “America’s Summer Golf Capital,” with more than 850 golf courses, making Michigan the state with the most number of golf courses in the country. Of these, 301 are found in Detroit, plus 36 driving ranges. Detroit also hosts the Detroit Boat Show in February, and one of the best freshwater long distance yacht races in the country, the Bayview Mackinac Race. Hunting is celebrated in Outdoorama in February while the Woodward Dream Cruise is a one-day classic car cruise festival in August. There is also hydroplane racing on the River Front and the Chrysler-Jeep Detroit APBA Gold Cup in July. Some of the best marathons in the country are held here: the Komen Detroit Race for the Cure in June; the Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon; and the 5K and 10K Turkey Trot Marathon, and the Mash Potato Mile Marathon for children below 12 years of age and for those 65 years and over in November.
When it comes to food, Detroit has much to offer. There are over a thousand restaurants to choose from and a Comerica Tastefest is held in June for a little taste of the city’s best restaurant offerings. The Coney Dog is a signature dish in Detroit, which has been served the same way since Greek immigrant Gust Keros first did it in 1917. Try it with some McClure’s pickles. Those watching a game must have Ball Park Franks, which are still sold at Comerica Park since 1957. Thanks to the growing Mexican population of the city, Detroit is one of the best places to find delicious Mexican food such as tasty tacos served in taquerias and small eateries around the city. Polish food has also a presence in the city given the city’s Polish heritage. Try Pierogi, or cheese and mushroom-stuffed dumplings, and Kowalski kielbasa sausages, which are also some of the tastiest in the country. Mediterranean, Japanese, Italian and other cuisines are easily found in the city.
It’s a must to have some seafood in the city, owing to the Detroit’s proximity to the Great Lakes. One item unique to the region is native Yellow Perch. Travelers are sure to find this delicious fish served in a variety of ways in different restaurants throughout the city, though perch fish and chips are still the favorite of locals. Have a bottle of Faygo in Redpop flavor, a soda brand bottled right in Detroit or have a sip of Vernors, the oldest soft drink brand in the country and a Detroit homegrown creation. Vernors could also be enjoyed in another favorite city concoction, the Boston cooler ice cream float. Eastern Market is a top destination on the weekends for a wide selection of food products from all over the world. Strawberries come to the forefront during the Belleville National Strawberry Festival in June to visitors are welcome to feast on a variety of strawberry treats.
For entertainment, there are three casinos in the region: Greektown Casino, MGM Grand Detroit Casino and MotorCity Casino Hotel. When it comes to shopping, residents and visitors have a choice from 24 regional shopping malls and five trade and outlet centers. There are 556 grocery stores in the city, 817 convenience stores with and without gas, 18 supercenters and club stores, and 1,019 full-service restaurants in Detroit.
The city’s diversity is also highly celebrated. In 1915, the first Kiwanis Club established itself in the city. The fist ethnic festival in the country is the International Riverfront Festival. The Dearborn Arab International Festival is a celebration of one of the largest Arab communities outside of the Middle East. The city’s founders are remembered in the Farmington Area Founders Festival in July.
The Detroit Riverfront is likewise the venue for annual events such as River Days; the Movement: Electronic Music Festival held during the Memorial Day weekend to celebrate electronic dance music; Motor City Pride and the Detroit International Jazz Festival held on Labor Day Weekend. One of the biggest celebrations is the Detroit River Days, a five-day festival held during the last week of June, which culminates in a fireworks spectacular to celebrate U.S. Independence Day and Canada Day. The fireworks show is one of the largest in the world.
There are a number of auto industry related events in the city. Two major auto shows in the city are the North American International Auto Show in January and the Autorama in February, while the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress brings auto manufacturers from around the world in April. Over half a million car enthusiasts visit for Cruisin’ Downriver celebration in June along Ford Street. Also, the military displays its aerial skills during the Selfridge Air Show in May.
Throughout the year, the city also hosts a number of events and festivals. The largest high school fair in the country is the St. Mary’s Polish Country Fair in May, while the century-old Michigan State Fair is held in August. Another popular fair is the Michigan Renaissance Festival also held in the summer. In September, Detroit holds the Northville Victorian Festival to celebrate the 1800s. The holiday season is ushered in with Noel Night, as well as Breakfast with Santa at the Zoo and a time-honored performance of the Rockettes at the Fox Theater.
Given the city’s long history and its cultural impact in the world, travelers would be pleasantly surprised that there are a number of things that they may not know about Detroit. Here’s a fascinating look at just some of the things that make Detroit special.
- Detroit has earned itself some interesting nicknames: The Motor City; Motown; America’s Comeback City; The Renaissance City; America’s Comeback City; Arsenal of Democracy; City of Trees; City of the Straits; Hitsville and Hockeytown. Detroit has also been called City of Champions, The D and D-Town. Rick Band Kiss made the song “Detroit Rock City,” so Detroit also became called Rock City. It is also known by one of the city’s area codes, The 313.
- There is a 91% greater chance of a tornado happening in the Detroit area compared to other American cities. However, there is a slim chance of earthquakes happening here since it has a 99% smaller chance of earthquakes compared to the overall average in the nation. Instead, most natural disasters are caused by storms and floods.
- Detroit has some of the oldest homes in the country. It is 48th out of the top 100 cities with oldest houses and 26th among the top 100 cities with old houses but young residents.
- Detroit is the home of the first soft drink made in the United States, Vernors Ginger Ale, when pharmacist James Vernor concocted the beverage in 1866. It is also the first city to have a radio news program, which aired its first broadcast on August 31, 1920.
- There are 974 bridges in Detroit, with a combined length measuring 7,199 meters or 23,619 feet. These carry a total average daily traffic of over 57 million vehicles and over 3 million trucks a day.
- There are three international border crossings in the city that connect Detroit to Windsor, Ontario: the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel; the Michigan Central Railway tunnel; and the Ambassador Bridge, known as the busiest border crossing in the country and accounts for 27% of total trade volume between the United States and Canada.
- Six United States Navy ships have been named after the city.
- The world’s largest stove used to be found in Detroit. It was built in 1893 as an antique style wood-burning stove weighing in at a hefty 15 tons and measuring 25 feet
tall. Unfortunately, the stove was destroyed in August 2011 because of a fire.
- Detroit has historically voted Democrat. In fact, the city is considered the most liberal among large cities in the country, according to the Bay Area Center for Voting Research.
- Although Detroit is getting more and more affordable as a city to live it, it ranked as the most expensive city in the country to insure a motor vehicle in 2012. This is due to the city’s high crime rate.
- The spiral slicer was invented in Detroit by Harry Hoenselaar. However, he couldn’t sell the product to the meat industry so he put up HoneyBaked Ham, and sold delicious honey glazed ham cut in perfect slices using his invention. The first HoneyBaked Ham Company stores opened in 1957, and today, there are more than 400 stores all over the country. HoneyBaked Ham has become a staple on dinner tables across the country during the holiday season.
- Detroit is the birthplace of many notable people such as: Charles Lindbergh; fashion designer Anna Sui; rock and roll star Alice Cooper; John De Lorean; athlete Quincy Watts and pro-wrestler Kevin Nash; comedian Lily Tomlin; singer Diana Ross; and filmmakers Francis Ford Coppola and Jerry Bruckheimer. In music, Kid Rock, Bob Seger, Aretha Franklin, the Winans and Eminem are just some of the artists that hail from D-Town. Likewise, the city is the birthplace of top Hollywood actors like George Peppard, Della Reese, TomSkerritt and Tom Selleck.
- Many movies were filmed in whole or in part in Detroit. These include Real Steel, 8 Mile starring Eminem, Grosse Pointe Blank, Action Jackson, Beverly Hills Cop, Hoffa, The Island, Bird on a Wire, For Love of the Game, George Clooney-starrer Out of Sight, and the Michael Bay mega-blockbuster Transformers. The TV shows 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, Freaks and Geeks, and Sister, Sister were also shot in Detroit.
- Detroit operates the world’s only floating post office, the J. W. Westcott II. The boat delivers mail to other underway ships that pass the Detroit River and under the Ambassador Bridge. It was put into service in 1874.
- Detroit is sister cities with Chongqing in China, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, Kitwe in Zambia, Minsk in Belarus, Nassau in the Bahamas, Toyota in Japan and the European city of Turin in Italy.