The sculpture Spirit of Detroit in front of the Municipal Center was built in 1958. The sculptor Marshall Fredricks created the artwork, which became the symbol of Detroit. The engraving behind the sculpture says: "Now the Lord is that Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty." Sometimes the sculpture is dressed in a local sports jersey.
The Penobscot Building is one of the best known buildings in Detroit. It originated in the heyday of Detroit in 1928. The 172 m high skyscraper in Art Deco style was designed by Wirt C. Rowland. The Penobscot Building was the tallest skyscraper in Detroit until the construction of the Renaissance Center in 1977. The name Penobscot comes from a river in Maine, which was named after an Indian tribe. Client Simon J. Murphy used to work as a lumberjack on this river, before moving to Detroit and getting rich with his own timber trade. By choosing the name Penobscot he reminded of his roots at the east coast. Indian motifs by sculptor Corrado Parducci decorate the building.
The pub and entertainment district in central Detroit is called Greektown. Originally it was a German residential area, when the Germans left the center around 1900, people from Greece moved into the neighborhood. They opened shops and restaurants and turned the area into an inner-city quarter. In the 1960s, most Greeks moved on and only the shops and restaurants stayed. Fearing that Greektown would disappear, the business owners joined forces and oraganized a Greek Festival on the 4th of July (Independence Day). There were many visitors and Greektown was able to establish itself as a nightlife district. Today Greektown still has Greek restaurants but also other bars, casinos and shops.
The Detroit Peoplemover DPM is a loop train that surrounds the center of Detroit. The elevated train runs on stilts and stops at Greektown, the Renaissance Center, Grand Circus Park, Times Square, Cobo Center and other stations. A ride costs 0.75 cents (in 2019) and is therefore very cheap. However, the city center of Detroit is very small and you can also explore the city on foot. For tourists the trip with the Detroit Peoplemover is great, because you get better views of the city, than from street level.
The building of architect George Mason was opened in 1926, it was by then the second biggest Masonic temple in the world. When Chicago's temple was demolished in 1939, the Detroit Masonic Temple became the biggest of its kind. On the outside the gothic-style building is a reminiscent of a cathedral. The more than 1,000 rooms are amaze with a variety of motifs. There are Ionian, Corinthian, Doric, Tudor and other rooms. The Masonic Temple is famous for its theaters, the largest has over 4,600 seats. If you're in Detroit, it's worth to study the Masonic Theater's program, there are always great performances or concerts going on.
Designed by Albert Kahn, the 67 m high building served as headquarter of General Motors between 1923-2001. Today used as office tower by the City Administration and renamed Cadillac Building, after the french founder of Detroit.
The Fisher Building is a masterpiece of Art Deco architecture in America. Opened in 1928, it is the tallest skyscraper in Detroit's New Center with 130 meters. The Fisher Brothers made an incredible amount of money in the construction of car bodys and commissioned the famous architect Albert Kahn, with the request to build the most beautiful building in the world. Money did not matter. The architect designed a skyscraper with theater for more then 2,000 spectators and two shopping arcades. He used marble, granite and bronze windows. The two shopping arcades have the dimension of cathedrals and were designed by the Hungarian Géza Maróti. The Fisher Building attracted attention throughout America when it opened.
The Eastern Market is a collection of market sheds that are partially covered. The market mainly sells food. The Eastern Market opens on Saturdays from 6am to 4pm (2019). In the summer there are other market days, on which the offer is extended to other products, such as design from Detroit. For opening hours and events check the link. The area around the Eastern Market is also known for great grafitti and murals. See also Picture Gallery of Detroit (in preparation).
Although Detroit has clearly recovered in recent years, there are still many ruins in town. Empty factories still shape the image of some of the cities neighborhoods. At Piquette Avenue, the Ford Model T was produced. Here you can find out about automotive history in the Museum of the historic Piquette Plant. In sight of the museum is an abandoned production facility, the Fisher Body Plant 21 (photo). In Detroit ruins are demolished and on the formerly built up areas grass is growing. The transformation of Detroit is still on the move.
To replace the old terminus station in central Detroit, land was bought in Corktown and a new station was built in 1914. Michigan Central Station was planned by the same architects as the New York Central Station. The architects Warren & Wetmore together with Reed & Stem built a train station with an 18-story high-rise building on top. As a result, the Michigan Central Station was considered the tallest station building in the world. But the new station was too far from the city center. The construction of highways and airports made rail travel increasingly unattractive. The railway traffic from Michigan Central Station was termineted in 1988, since then the station is abandoned. Because it is a listed building, it has not been demolished yet. There are always attempts to save the building by new concepts, but until now they all failed. The Michigan Central Station is a landmark of Detroit and will survive.
Corktown is Detroit's most popular nightlife district. Irish immigrants from the city of Cork gave the ward it's name. Corktown is not as touristy as Greektown, hippsters and families from Detroit love this place. Good restaurants and bars in renovated old buildings, make the pleasant charm of the district. Courtyards with beer gardens show that Detroit can also be very cozy. Corktown is not very big and there are still gaps between the houses, but the neighborhood is one of the best places to eat or enjoy a night out in a bar.
The Heidelberg Project was a reaction by artist Tyree Guyton to neglect and crime in his street. He cleared the neighborhood from 1986 onward and turned his Street into an art project. Remains of toys were piled up on burned-down houses, existing houses were painted colorfully and even the sidewalks got paint. The Heidelberg Project is a mixture of defiance and protest. It wants to show that you can change your neighborhood yourself, if you want.
Heidelberg Street looks like a mixture of funny weird village and sorted garbage on green meadows. A very bizarre place that tells a lot about Detroit.
The Detroit River is the border between the USA and Canada. The Abbassador Bridge was built in 1929 and connects Detroit with the Canadian city of Windsor. The suspension bridge made of steel is around 2.3 kilometers long. Around 10,000 trucks and 4,000 cars drive over the bridge every day. For the crossing a toll of about US $ 5 or 6,25 CA $ has to be paid, for current costs check the link. On both sides there are border stations, where you have to answer questions why you want to enter the country. You should not drive over the line where the stop sign is. The humorless border guards may look very angry and the interview takes longer than necessary. He let us pass anyway, nice guy.
Another way to get to Canada is the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, which opened in 1930. The tunnel connects Downtown Detroit with Downtown Windsor. The toll is a bit cheaper.
One of Detroit's top attractions is the skyline seen from Windsor. The Canadian city is just across the Detroit River. From the Riverfront Promenade one has the best views on Downtown Detroit. At the river there is paid parking and a cafe. Apart from the skyline of Detroit, the town of Windsor has not much to offer, the main street Ouellette Ave. is even emptier than the streets of Detroit. If you still want to spend more time in Canada drive up to Toronto or visit the Art Gallery of Windsor. The best thing in Windsor is the Detroit skyline at night.
Another pinnacle of the heyday of Detroit is the famous Fox Theater. From the outside, the building is not extraordinary, but the auditorium is a decoration orgy unequaled. The Art Deco architecture shows motifs from China, Persia and India. With over 5,000 seats, the auditorium is the biggest theater in Detroit. The Fox Theater opened in 1928 as a movie theater. The architect Charles Howard Crane designed a theater with a ten-story office building on top. If you are in Detroit you should definitely visit the Fox Theater, the auditorium is really special. For events check the link.
Welcome to Detroit
Even if Detroit makes a neglected impression, the city is recovering and many designers and artists move into the deserted ruins. Detroit is a very interesting city, with many beautiful buildings.
There is the "Belle Isle" in the Detroit River, with one of the oldest aquariums in the USA or the "Raven Lounge", the most famous blues club in Detroit.