With nearly 700,000 residents, Detroit is the most populous city in Michigan. That’s a far cry from the 1.85 million people that called the city their home in 1950, just before a steady and continual population decline began. Even so, the city has one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country and offers visitors much to see in and around the area. Detroit was at one time the automotive capital of the world. Thus, its many popular sites include destinations that trace that history.
Detroit International Riverfront
A 3.5-mile riverfront promenade is a can’t miss attraction to the Motor City. Located along the north shore of the Detroit River, the promenade features views of Windsor, Ontario, with GM’s global headquarters at the Renaissance Center offering a dramatic backdrop.
The riverfront is best visited during warmer weather, but it can be enjoyable throughout the year, depending on your ability to withstand cold weather. Visitors often express surprise that Canada lies due south of the riverfront, one of the few areas where the adjoining nations wrap around each other.
Motown Historical Museum
It was once called Hitsville, USA, but was later known simply as Motown, slang for Motor Town or Motor City. During Motown’s heyday, its Detroit headquarters welcomed and promoted a series of stars including Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five and many others.
Founded by Berry Gordy, Motown produced more than 100 top hits, elevating African American artists to the stratosphere of the music industry. Motown’s Detroit years ranged from 1959 to 1971 before the company headed to California. The Motown Historical Museum features much of the original recording equipment, photos, costumes and gold records that made Motown famous.
The Guardian Building
Downtown Detroit — like much of the rest of the city — often gets a bad rap. Some of it is deserved, but much of it is not. The Guardian Building is one of those special gems that point to what this city once was and the potential that it still has. Its Art Deco design is apparent on the outside, but it is the decorative tiles on the inside that will have you talking.
The 40-story downtown destination is known for its incredible views of the city as well as the Riverfront. The building is leased out to tenants and provides retail lobby shops, a reprographics facility, conference and auditorium capabilities and more. Learn how the Union Trust Company commissioned the architecture about the same time that Chrysler was doing the same for its building in New York City.
Boston Edison Historic District
The Roaring Twenties had special meaning for Detroit. That is the decade when the city’s growth took off as the automotive industry roared to life. If you were a person of wealth, the Boston Edison neighborhood was one area where you may have desired to live.
Today, Boston Edison boasts numerous historic homes of the bygone era. Such homes were often ornate and used natural materials not used in most construction today. The community is worth a tour to view the beautiful architecture. It also offers homes for sale that start from unheard of low prices of $15,000!
GM Renaissance Center
At 72 floors, the GM Renaissance Center is the tallest edifice in Detroit. This cylindrical building is both beautiful and inspiring, a tribute to a city that continues to defy the odds with its survival.
You can take an outside elevator ride up to the observation deck to enjoy the views. Lobby shops, a GM car display and seasonal Riverfront entertainment are among its attractions. The building also features a four-unit movie theater and the tallest of the seven towers represents a 1,246-room hotel — the Detroit Marriott.
General Motors, the Ford Motor Company and Chrysler each have their world headquarters in and around Detroit. You can also arrange for local factory tours, enjoy professional sports and find fine dining downtown. The city boasts a number of seasonal events including the famed Woodward Dream Cruise on the third Saturday of August, where classic car club members strut their stuff.
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