Difference between revisions of "Detroit"
Revision as of 21:42, 24 March 2009
Detroit,  a major metropolis in the US state of Michigan, has significantly influenced the world in many ways. From the advent of the automotive assembly line, to the Motown sound, to modern techno and rock acts, Detroit continues to shape both American and global culture. The city has seen many of its historic buildings renovated, and is bustling with new developments and attractions that compliment its world class museums and theatres. The city offers a myriad of things to see and do. Detroit is an exciting travel destination filled with technological advance and historic charm.
Detroit is the largest city in the U.S. to offer casino resorts. The three major casino resorts include MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown, and MotorCity. A fourth major casino is just across the river in Windsor, Canada. Detroit Metro Airport is one of the few to offer world class hotel and meeting facilities inside the terminal. The Renaissance Center and the Southfield Town Center are among the nation's finest mixed use facilities for large conferences. Downtown Detroit serves as the cultural and entertainment hub of the metropolitan region, Windsor, Ontario, and even for Toledo, Ohio residents, many of whom work in metropolitan Detroit. While most of the region's attractions are in the city of Detroit, tourists will find that nearly all of the shopping malls are located in suburbs, such as Troy. The Detroit-Windsor metro area population totals about 5.9 million; it jumps to 6.5 million if Toledo is included. An estimated 46 million people live within a 300 mile (480 km) radius of Detroit. The city's northern inner ring suburbs like Ferndale, Southfield, Royal Oak, and Birmingham provide an urban experience in the suburbs complete with dining, shopping and other attractions. The Detroit area has many regal mansions especially in Grosse Pointe, Bloomfield Hills, and Birmingham. Troy and Livonia provide the best of American suburbia while Ann Arbor provides the nearby experience of a world renowned college town.
Detroit is an international destination for sporting events of all types; patrons enjoy their experience in world class venues. The Detroit Convention and Visitors bureau maintains the Detroit Metro Sports Commission . The city and region have state of the art facilities for major conferences and conventions.
Detroit is known as the world's "Automobile Capital" and "Motown" (for "Motor Town"), the city where Henry Ford pioneered the automotive assembly line, with the world's first mass produced car, the Model T. During World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt called Detroit, the "Arsenal of Democracy." Today, the region serves as the global center for the automotive world. Headquartered in metro Detroit, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler all have major corporate, manufacturing, engineering, design, and research facilities in the area. Hyundai, Toyota, Nissan, among others, have a presence in the region. The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is a global leader in research and development. Metro Detroit has made Michigan's economy a leader in information technology, life sciences, and advanced manufacturing. Michigan ranks fourth nationally in high tech employment with 568,000 high tech workers, including 70,000 in the automotive industry. Michigan typically ranks among the top three states for overall Research & Development investment expenditures in the U.S. The domestic Auto Industry accounts directly and indirectly for one of every ten jobs in the U.S.
Downtown Detroit is unique - an International Riverfront , ornate buildings, sculptures, fountains, the nation's second largest theater district, and one of the nation's largest collection of pre-depression era skyscrapers. Two major traffic circles along Woodward Avenue surround Campus Martius Park and Grand Circus Park, both gathering points. The city has ample parking much of it in garages. Many historic buildings have been converted into loft apartments, and over sixty new businesses have opened in the Central Business District over the past two years. Downtown Detroit features the Renaissance Center, including the tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere, the Detroit Marriott, with the largest rooftop restaurant, the Coach Insignia. Many restaurants emanate from the Renaissance Center, Greektown, the arts and theatre district, and stadium area. Joining the east riverfront parks, the city has the 982-acre (3.9 km²; 2.42 sq mi) Belle Isle Park with the large James Scott Memorial Fountain, historic conservatory, gardens, and spectacular views of the city skyline. Visitors may reserve a public dock downtown at the Tri-Centennial State Park and Harbor. Great Lakes Cruises are also available. Surrounding neighborhoods such as Corktown, home to Detroit's early Irish population, New Center , Midtown, and Eastern Market  (the nation's largest open air market), are experiencing a revival. Detroit has a rich architectural heritage, from the restoration of the historic Westin Book-Cadillac Hotel downtown to the Westin Detroit Hotel surrounded by the golden towers of the ultra-contemporary Southfield Town Center . In 2005, Detroit's architecture was heralded as some of America's finest; many of the city's architecturally significant buildings are listed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as among America's most endangered landmarks.
Detroit is bordered to the south by the Detroit River, which divides the U.S. and Canada (Detroit is the only place in the continental U.S. where you have to go south to enter Canada!). Downtown is located on the riverfront, so the rest of the city expands north, east, and west from downtown. The Cultural Center, home to most of the city's museums, is just north of downtown, in Midtown.
Detroit Metro Airport (DTW)  is in Romulus, about 20 minutes west of the city proper, located at the junction between I-275 and I-94 with many nearby hotels. The airport is a major Northwest hub (expected to be a major Delta hub) and operational headquarters, so it offers direct flights to and from a surprising variety of cities, from Seattle to Osaka. The terminal offers World Clubs as well as a Westin Hotel and conference center. The massive, recently completed midfield McNamara Terminal serves Northwest, Continental, Delta, and major international carriers; all other carriers utilize the new North Terminal. For convenience, the McNamara Terminal has both domestic and international gates in the same terminal. An enclosed light rail system shuttles travelers in the McNamara Terminal. There is a free shuttle between the terminals – look for blue and white vans that say "Westin - Terminal." The airport is one of the most recently modernized in the U.S. with six major runways.
The quickest way to get to downtown Detroit is to rent a car or take a taxi-cab. Standard cab fare to downtown is $45-$50. You can also get to Detroit using the SMART (suburban) mass transit bus system . Route 125 serves the airport approximately every half hour, beginning alternately at the Smith and McNamara terminals (no bus serves both terminals), and takes about an hour and fifteen minutes to get downtown. The fare is $1.50. Familiarize yourself with the route map and schedule before you try this – it is more commonly used by workers at the airport than tourists.
Several interstates converge in downtown Detroit. I-75 North/South runs from Toledo through downtown Detroit to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I-94 runs East/West from Chicago to Detroit and continues up to Sarnia. I-96 East/West heads from Detroit to Lansing, Michigan. I-696 runs along the northern edge of the city, connecting the eastern suburbs (e.g. St. Clair Shores) to Southfield. I-275 connects with the suburb of Livonia. Highways M-10, M-14, M-23, and M-39 are major freeways which interconnect with the Interstates in the Detroit metro area to ease navigation. Highway M-39, called the Southfield Freeway, connects Dearborn to Southfield. Highway M-10, called the Lodge Freeway, connects Southfield to downtown. Highway M-14 connects Ann Arbor to Detroit via I-96. Bypassing Ann Arbor, highway M-23 connects I-94 to I-96.
The metro area's major Interstates and freeways were overhauled in preparation the 2006 National Football League Super Bowl XL in Detroit and are in good condition.
As with any major city, traffic during rush hour can make travel really slow. This is especially aggravated during shift changes at the local automotive plants.
For smaller streets, the Detroit area is laid out in wheel-and-spoke, grid, and strip-farm configuration. This was due to first French development (strip farms along the river), early city layout (wheel and spoke from the river's edge), followed by the modern North/South grid. Mile roads run east-west, starting at downtown Detroit and increasing as you travel north. These mile roads may change name in different cities, so pay attention. There are also several spoke roads, including Woodward Ave, Michigan Ave, Gratiot Ave, and Grand River Ave. Only in the old downtown business district is the original Washington D.C./L'enfant style wheel and spoke layout found (it is quite confusing, with several one-way streets added for fun). In areas along the River and Lake St. Clair, the colonial-era French practice of allocating strips of land with water access is seen as main roads parallel the water, and secondary roads perpendicular to it. This is very confusing to non-residents.
Detroit's street layout is truly unique, combining wheel-and-spoke, grid, and strip-farm (near the River) layouts. Six major spoke roads radiate out from downtown; they are, in clockwise order, Fort Street, Michigan Avenue, Grand River Avenue, Woodward Avenue, Gratiot Avenue, and Jefferson Avenue. Woodward Avenue runs north-south (more or less) and divides Detroit into east and west; West Warren Street, for instance, becomes East Warren Street when it crosses Woodward. Smaller streets generally conform to a strict grid pattern, although the orientation of the grid and the size and shape of blocks frequently varies to fit better with the spoke roads. Downtown, the layout abandons the grid design, with the spoke roads converging in a confusing but oddly logical arrangement of diagonal, mostly one-way streets.
Detroit spreads over a large area, and getting around may prove to be difficult without a car. Nonetheless, an extensive highway system and ample parking make the region one of the most auto-friendly in North America. Detroit has one of America's most modern freeway systems. See the Michigan Department of Transportation  website for a current listing of downtown road closures and construction projects. Downtown has parking garages in strategic locations.
Greektown Casino, located downtown, has a free 13 floor parking garage. Visitors are welcome to pay to park at the Renaissance Center garage. There are plenty of pay-to-park garages, lots, and valet near the Greektown/stadium areas. Premium parking right next to the stadium is well worth the extra price and usually available during a game. Downtown has an ease of entry from the freeways which may surprise new visitors. Valet parking is available at four Renaissance Center locations, the main Winter Garden entrance along the Riverfront, the Jefferson Avenue lobby, Marriott hotel entrance west, and Seldom Blues entrance west.
Detroit has an abundance of taxi, limo, and shuttle services. Car rental prices are reasonable.
On foot or by bicycle
A car is helpful for getting around the rest of the city, but due to the unusual layout and large number of one-way streets, getting out and walking for a few blocks is a good way to see downtown. Bike rentals are available in downtown Detroit along the International Riverfront at Rivard Plaza from Wheelhouse. Downtown and the riverfront are usually bustling with visitors.
The Detroit Department of Transportation  provides mass transit bus service within the city of Detroit. Downtown has a the new Rosa Parks Transit Center. DDOT buses are yellow and green. For safety, DDOT buses may be patrolled by the Wayne County sheriff's deputies. 17 routes serve the central bus terminal, which is downtown at Griswold and Shelby streets. Standard fare $1.50, transfer $.25.
By elevated rail
Completed in 1987, the People Mover  is a fully automated, elevated rail system that runs a three mile loop in the downtown area. It is the best way to get around the downtown area. A round trip excursion, covering thirteen stations, takes approximately 20 minutes and offers great views of the city's downtown landmarks. Signature stops include the Renaissance Center (GM HQ & Retail Complex), Greektown, Joe Louis Arena (Home of the Detroit Red Wings), Cobo (Convention) Center, and Cadillac Center (Campus Martius Park). The stations feature original works by local artists. Standard fare $.25.
This is only a small list of some of the biggest attractions and even though they are listed here, their info is brief. Make sure to check out the district articles for more.
This is only a small list of some of the some key activities and events to enjoy and even though they are listed here, their info is brief. Make sure to check out the district articles for more.
Located in Ann Arbor, about 45 miles west of Detroit, the University of Michigan ranks as one of America's best. Former alumni include President Gerald Ford and Google co-founder Larry Page. Others include Wayne State University (alumni include legendary White House Correspondent Helen Thomas and comedian/actress Lily Tomlin), University of Detroit-Mercy, Lawrence Technological University, Oakland University, Oakland Community College which is one of the largest Community Colleges in Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Marygrove College, and College for Creative Studies.
The Detroit area has many civic and professional organizations. The world headquarters for the Society for Automotive Engineers (SAE) is in Troy, MI and the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) is headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI. Others include the Detroit Economic Club, the Detroit Athletic Club, the Greening of Detroit to promote urban forestry (tree planting), the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Detroit Renaissance, and Detroit Economic Growth Association (DEGA), and more.
The International Academy, an all International Baccalaureate school (a public, tuition-free consortium high school operated by Bloomfield Hills Schools which consistently ranks among the top 10 public high schools in the nation by Newsweek magazine), Cranbrook Schools (an exclusive private boarding school and academy), the Eton Academy, and Henry Ford Academy are some of outstanding secondary schools that are located in the area.
Some of the major companies which have headquarters or a significant presence in metro Detroit include GM, Ford, Chrysler, Volkswagen of America, Comerica, Rock Financial/Quicken Loans, Kelly Services, Borders Group, Dominos, American Axle, DTE Energy, Compuware, Covansys, TRW, BorgWarner, ArvinMeritor, United Auto Group, Pulte Homes, Taubman Centers, Guardian Glass, Lear Seating, Masco, General Dynamics Land Systems, EDS, Microsoft, IBM, Google, Verizon, National City Bank, Northwest Airlines, Bank of America, and Raymond James, Coopers & Lybrand, Ernst & Young, and more.
This is only a small list of shops and even though they are listed here, their info is brief. Make sure to check out the district articles for more.
Detroit is home to many American classics including the Coney Island Hotdog, Sanders Bumpy Cakes, Dominos Pizza, Little Caesars Pizza, Better Made Potato Chips, and Vernor's Ginger Ale. (Vernor's Ginger Ale shares the distinction as America's oldest soft drink with Hire's Root Beer).
Explore Detroit's Greektown, with its Greek restaurants and shops surrounding the Greektown Casino. Detroit's Mexicantown is known for Mexican cuisine at restaurants such as Mexican Village, Evie's Tamales, El Zocalo and Xochimilco. Restaurants, bakeries, and shops are located on Vernor Highway, on both the east and west sides of the Interstate 75 service drive. Detroit's Hamtramck is famous for its Polish cuisine and bakeries. Choose to dine in elegance at one of Detroit's many fine restaurants a sample of which include the Coach Insignia atop the Renaissance Center Downtown, the Whitney House restaurant in Midtown, or the Opus One in the New Center.
Vernor's Ginger Ale, created by Detroit pharmacist James Vernor, shares the distinction as America's oldest soft drink with Hire's Rootbeer. A local favorite, Detroiters pour Vernor's over ice cream. Also try Faygo soft drinks, another former Detroit based soft drink company. Detroiters enjoy Michigan Wines. A family of GM heritage, the Fisher family Coach Wines are served at the Coach Insignia Restaurant atop the GM Renaissance Center.
This is only a small list of hotels and even though they are listed here, their info is brief. Make sure to check out the district articles for more.
With plenty of luxurious of accommodations, the Detroit are includes many fine hotels to fit all types of needs. Whether it is the riverfront ambiance of the Detroit Omni, or the old world elegance of the newly restored Westin Book-Cadillac. For a mix of the urban/suburban flair try the international style Westin Southfield-Detroit Hotel.
Like most major cities, crime tends to occur in areas where most tourists have little reason to visit. As with most urban areas, precautions should be taken when out after dark: stay in groups; do not carry large amounts of money; and avoid seedy neighborhoods. Stick to major freeways when possible and try to avoid smaller streets through unfamiliar neighborhoods. It is important as to how you carry yourself, doing this properly could easily keep you from getting mugged.
Contrary to some people's perceptions, downtown Detroit is generally well-policed and among the safest parts of the city. Crimes can and do occur in downtown, but exercising common sense will go a long way toward keeping you and your valuables safe.
Sporting events, festivals and other large public events are always heavily policed and very safe. Sporadic crime events, mostly alcohol-related and involving groups of youths, have been reported at some of these events but they are by far the exception.
Unfortunately for the music-lover, much of the current music scene is scattered between downtown venues like the Majestic Theater/Magic Stick complex, places in Hamtramck, and suburban venues in places like Royal Oak. So you will have to drive, navigate the city at night, and typically park on the street. Some venues, such as Harpo's on the east side, are in fairly unsafe neighborhoods. Always use caution and ask around before going to a particular venue. People at record stores, guitar shops, "cool" clothing stores, and the like often visit and know which venues are easy to get to and reasonably safe.
Detroit has a modern freeway system that is easy to navigate. But be advised that Michigan drivers tend to drive fast and defensively. The flow of traffic on a freeway is routinely ten miles over the speed limit, and weaving in and out of lanes is standard practice. If you are driving the posted speed limit in the fast lane, the driver behind you may have no qualms about tailgating you, so if you plan on driving slowly, get in the right lane. Detroit Metropolitan Airport has a conveniently attached Westin Hotel and conference center. The Airport is among the most modern in the United States with both international and domestic gates in the World Terminal. Galegroup's Hour Media LLC publishes a full color guest guide found in hotels in the metro Detroit area. Visitors may request a guest packet from the Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Convention and Visitors Bureau sponsors Discover Detroit TV which airs Mondays at 5:30 PM on Detroit Public Television. The city has ample parking garages, valet, and pay-to-park lots near major attractions. Laurel Park Place Mall in Livonia has an attached Marriott Hotel. The Westin Hotel at the Southfield Town Center is centrally located for those needing access to the entire metropolitan region.
Although Detroit itself provides the majority of the region's visitor attractions, the entire Southeast Michigan area is large and diverse and contains a great wealth of hot spots and attractions that are also well worth visiting.
Other destinations outside Southeast Michigan area include: