Downtown Detroit is the central buisness district of Detroit, bordered by the Lodge Freeway to the west, the Fisher Freeway to the north, Interstate 375 to the east, and the Detroit River to the south. The area contains most of the prominent skyscrapers in Detroit, the nation's second largest theatre district, several parks, many of which are linked by the Detroit International Riverfront, and much more.
Anyone who says that Detroit is a terrible and dangerous city has obviously never been to downtown Detroit. In the past decade, the area and the entire city has seen many historic buildings renovated, many parks open, and much more.
The best way to get to Downtown Detroit is probably by car. The area has many parking garages and the prices aren't too bad.
- If coming from the south, one should: take I-75 North toward Detroit and exit at Exit 49 to M-10. Exit on the left toward M-10/Lodge Freeway/Civic Center. Take the M-10 South exit toward the Civic Center and then merge onto the Lodge Freeway/M-10 South. The Lodge Freeway/M-10 becomes Jefferson Avenue. Finally, turn left onto Woodward Avenue, and you will be in Downtown.
- If coming from the west, one should: take I-96 East and take the I-75 North/M-10 exit on the left toward Flint/Civic Center. Continue to the M-10/Lodge Freeway exit toward Rosa Parks Boulevard/Civic Center and then exit on the left toward M-10/Lodge Freeway/Civic Center. Take the M-10 South exit toward the Civic Center and then merge onto John C Lodge Fwy/M-10 South. The Lodge Freeway/M-10 becomes Jefferson Avenue. Finally, turn left onto Woodward Avenue, and you will be in Downtown.
- If coming from the north, one should: take I-75 South and continue onto I-375 South/Chrysler Fwy via Exit 51C on the left toward the Civic Center. Turn left onto Jefferson Avenue. E and turn right onto Woodward Avenue, and you will be in Downtown.
- If coming from the east, one should: take I-94 West and merge onto I-75 South/Chrysler Freeway via Exit 261A toward Toledo. Continue onto I-375 South/Chrysler Freeway via Exit 51C on the left toward the Civic Center. Turn left onto Jefferson Ave. E and turn right onto Woodward Avenue, and you will be in Downtown.
Brush Street in Downtown Detroit
- Renaissance Center, Jefferson Ave., between Brush St. and Beaubien, ☎ 313.567.3126, . This group of seven interconnected skyscrapers contains the tallest building in Michigan and is considered a symbol of Detroit. The entire complex is owned by General Motors as its headquarters. The central tower, called the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, was built as the tallest hotel in the world, rising 73 stories at 727 feet, but taller hotels have been constructed in recent years in cities such as Dubai, so it has to settle for the title as tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere. It also features the world's largest rooftop restaurant, Coach Insignia. Free tours of the complex are offered Monday thru Saturday at 10 am, noon, 2 pm, and 4 pm. Highlights of the tour include: the GM Wintergraden, a tropical atrium overlooking the Detroit River; GMnext Showroom, a display of classic and concept cars; "Borealis" Glass Sculpture, the tallest vertical glass sculpture in the world; Riverfront Plaza and Promenade; and a glass elevator ride to the 72nd floor, which offers great views that extend 30 miles (48 km) in all directions. The Renaissance Center also has its own station on the People Mover, located in Tower 200 on level 2.
- Old Mariners' Church, 170 East Jefferson Avenue, ☎ 313.259.2206, . The Old Mariners' Church is an Anglican church completed in 1859. Established to serve mariners (hence the name), the church holds a Blessing of the Fleet every March for those going out to sea, and a Great Lakes Memorial Service for those who have lost their lives at sea every November. The nearest People Mover Station to the church is the Financial District Station, located on Larned, between Shelby and Griswold Street.
- Greektown, along Monroe Avenue between Brush and St. Antoine Streets, . This historic neighborhood is dominated by Greek restaurants. Some buildings on Monroe Street resemble the Parthenon, Pegasus, and other forms of Ancient Greek architecture. Greek music is also played on Monroe Street throughout the day. One of Detroit's three casino's, Greektown Casino, is located in the neighborhood and has a station on the People Mover on level 3.
- Bricktown, located between Greektown and the Renaissance Center. Bricktown is an historic district that is home to St. Peter and Paul’s Catholic Church, the oldest standing church in Detroit, and the Italian Renaissance style Wayne County Building. The neighborhood also has its own station on the People Mover on Beaubien Street, north of Congress Street.
- Broadway Avenue, along Broadway Avenue between Gratiot and East Grand River. This neighborhood is located on a single block of Broadway Avenue and consists of eleven commercial buildings built between 1896 and 1926. The architectural terra cotta used on the buildings gives the neighborhood a distinct look. The Broadway People Mover Station, which is the nearest station, is located at the corner of Broadway and John R.
- Capitol Park, bounded by Shelby Street, Griswold Street, and State Street, . This park and seventeen surrounding buildings are included in the Capitol Park Historic District. Some of the more famous ones are the Art Deco-style David Stott Building, and the Modern Movement-style Griswold Building. The nearest People Mover station to this historic place is the Times Square Station, located on Grand River, between Cass and Washington Boulevard.
- Washington Boulevard, bounded by Washington Boulevard between State and Clifford streets. This neighborhood is a multi-block area on which some of Detroit's most architecturally significant buildings are situated. It includes the Book-Cadillac Hotel, the Book Tower, the Industrial-Stevens Apartments, and Washington Square among other buildings. The Times Square Station on the People Mover is located right in this historic district, at Grand River Avenue, between Cass and Washington Boulevards.
Parks and monuments
- Campus Martius Park, located at the intersection of Woodward Avenue and Michigan Avenue, ☎ 313.962.0101, . M-Th 7AM-10PM, F 7AM-Midnight, Sa 9AM-Midnight, Su 9AM-8PM. Campus Martius is the main park of Detroit. Hart Plaza, located on the Riverfront, was made to replace Campus Martius, but Hart Plaza is hard-surfaced, so Campus Martius was re-established. The new Campus Martius Park includes two stages, sculptures, public spaces and a seasonal ice skating rink. Cadillac Square Park, located immediately to the east of Campus Martius, was recently made to increase the amount of park space. Several skyscrapers surround Campus Martius Park. The more popular of these include: Compuware World Headquarters, which is home to a beautiful lobby and several shops and stores; Cadillac Tower, which will be connected to the under-construction Cadillac Centre, which will be built in a similar architectural style as the Guggenheim Museums; and 1001 Woodward, which is the only building in Detroit in the Chicago-style architecture. The park is also home to a few historic monuments, such as Michigan Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, which is a Civil War monument first unveiled in 1872, and Bagley Memorial Fountain, which is a monument to 16th governor of Michigan, John J. Bagley, who's will contained $5,000 for the construction of a drinking fountain for the people of Detroit, to have "water cold and pure as the coldest mountain stream." The nearest People Mover station to Campus Martius Park is the Cadillac Center station, located at Gratiot Avenue and Library Street. Free.
- Grand Circus Park, roughly bounded by Clifford, John R. and Adams Streets, and bisected by Woodward Avenue, . This five-acre park connects Detroit's theatre district to its financial center. The park is home to several statues and monuments, such as the Thomas Edison Memorial Fountain, a statue of former Detroit mayor, William C. Maybury, a statue of Hazen S. Pingree, former mayor of Detroit and former governor of Michigan, and the Russel Alger Memorial Fountain. Across the street from the park is the Victorian Gothic-styled Central United Methodist Church. The park has been called a "skyscraper graveyard" due to the large number of vacant skyscrapers surrounding the park. However, due to the park's proximity to the theatre district, Comerica Park, and Ford Field, the fortunes of these skyscrapers are brighter, as many undergoing or are planned for renovation. Grand Circus Park has its own station on the people mover, located at Park Street, near Woodward Avenue. Free.
- Detroit International Riverfront, located along the Detroit River from the Ambassador Bridge to the MacArthur Bridge, ☎ 313.566.8200, . Detroit's riverfront is a 5½-mile (8.8 km) promenade along the Detroit River running from the Ambassador Bridge to Belle Isle, encompassing a multitude of parks, restaurants, retail shops, skyscrapers, and high rise residential areas. The path is located directly on the river and is 62 feet (18¾ m) wide in most places, with separate lanes for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Pavilions, fishing piers, and benches are located at intervals along the path. The east RiverWalk connects various riverfront developments, including Hart Plaza, the Renaissance Center, GM Plaza and Promenade, Tri-Centennial State Park, Stroh River Place, Chene Park, and Gabriel Richard Park. The nearest People Mover station to the riverfront is the Joe Louis Arena Station, which is located inside Joe Louis Arena. Free.
- Hart Plaza, located immediately south of the intersection of Woodward and Jefferson Avenues, . This park is an open, mostly hard-surfaced park along the Detroit River. It is located more or less on the site where Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac landed in 1701 when he founded Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit, the settlement that became Detroit. The 14 acres (5.7 ha) plaza, which is named after the late U.S. Senator Philip Hart, opened in 1975 and has a capacity of 40,000 people. The park conatians several sculptures and monuments, including: Dodge Fountain, which is located at the center of the park; Transcending, which is a Michigan Labor Legacy Landmark, located at the entrance of the park; Monolith, a sculpture by Isamu Noguchi; a statue of George Washington; and the Joe Louis Memorial, which is a giganitc sculpture of Joe Louis' fist. The nearest People Mover station to Hart Plaza is the Financial District Station, located on Larned, between Shelby and Griswold Street. Free.
- Spirit of Detroit, at the corner of Jefferson and Woodward Avenues. The Spirit of Detroit is a city monument with a large bronze statue situated in front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, home to Detroit's city hall. It was commissioned in 1955 for a cost of $58,000, and dedicated in 1958. In its left hand, the statue holds a bronze sphere with rays to symbolize God. In its right hand, is a family group symbolizing human relationships. The 26 foot (7.9 m) sculpture is frequently dressed in sports jerseys when local professional teams are in the playoffs. The nearest People Mover station to the monument is the Millender Center Station, which is located inside the Millender Center on the 5th floor.
Detroit is home to one of the world's largest collections of late nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings. Some of these buildings were abandoned and torn down during Detroit's decline a few decades ago. However, during the past decade the city has been revived and has seen many of its architecturally significant buildings being renovated. Several of Detroit's buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Detroit is definately one the best destinations for architecture buffs.
One Detroit Center (a.k.a. Comerica Tower)
- Comerica Tower at Detroit Center, 500 Woodward Avenue, . Comerica Tower is the second tallest building in Detroit, after the Renaissance Center, rising 619 ft (189 m). The building was constructed from 1991 to 1993. The building is famous for its postmodern architectural design topped with neo-gothic spires, which makes it blend in with the older buildings in Detroit. Built in 1993, visitors are often surprised to learn of the building's young age.
- Penobscot Building, 645 Griswold Street, . The building was the tallest in Michigan from its completion in 1928 until the construction of the Renaissance Center's central tower in 1977. It is now the third tallest. Like many of the city's other Roaring Twenties buildings, it has Art Deco influences, including its "H" shape, which allows maximum sunlight into the building, and the sculptural setbacks that cause the upper floors to seem to "erode".
- Guardian Building, 500 Griswold Street, . Built in 1929, the building is a bold example of Art Deco architecture, including art moderne designs. At the top of the Guardian Building's spire, is a large American Flag, complementing the four smaller flags atop nearby 150 West Jefferson. The Guardian Building's interior is lavishly decorated with mosaic and Pewabic and Rookwood tile. The semi-circular exterior domes are filled with Pewabic Pottery. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989.
- Westin Book Cadillac Hotel, 1114 Washington Blvd, . Built in 1928, the Book Cadillac Hotel is an architectural gem that, after 20 years of vacancy, was remodeled into an upscale hotel in 2008. It was designed with neo-classical elements and building sculptures, incorporating brick and limestone. Among its notable features are the statues of General Anthony Wayne, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, Chief Pontiac and Robert Navarre along the ornate Michigan Avenue facade and the three copper terraces at top the building.
- Cadillac Tower, 65 Cadillac Square, . This Beaux Arts skyscraper was the first building outside of New York City and Chicago to have more than 40 floors. Cadillac Tower was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
- Fort Shelby Hotel, 525 West Lafayette Boulevard, . This historic upscale hotel was designed in the Beaux Arts style. Built in 1916, it underwent renovation in 2008 and is the first full-service Hilton brand hotel to operate in the city in 33 years. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
- Wayne County Building, 600 Randolph, . This building, constructed in 1897, may be the country's finest surviving example of Roman Baroque architecture. The Wayne County Building also has a blend of Beaux-Arts and some elements of the neo-classical architectural style. The courthouse tower was originally 227' - 8 1/2" tall. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
- Fort Street Presbyterian Church, 631 W. Fort Street, . This church was constructed in 1855, and completely rebuilt in 1876. It is an ornately detailed Gothic Revival structure built of limestone ashlar. The facade features a 265 foot (81 m) tall square tower with a spire on one side and a shorter octagonal turret on the other. A central stained glass window illuminates the sanctuary. There are seven bays along the side of the church with flying buttresses, crocketed finials, lacy stonework and tall windows, which was designed to give the impression of light.
Detroit is the largest American city to offer casino resorts.
- MGM Grand Detroit, 1777 Third Street, ☎ 1.888.MGM.DTR, . The MGM Grand Detroit is the first luxury casino resort in a major metropolis outside of Las Vegas or Atlantic City, and the first in downtown Detroit. The permanent casino opened its doors to the public on October 3, 2007.
- MotorCity Casino, 2901 Grand River Avenue, ☎ 866.STAY.MCC, . The MotorCity Casino is a newly expanded and renovated $300 million casino hotel. It incorporates the historic Wagner Baking Company building circa 1915. As part of the renovation, the cornerstone of this former Wonder Bread bakery has been fully restored to its original condition, preserving the signature features of the 93-year old Detroit landmark.
- Greektown Casino, 555 East Lafayette, ☎ 1.888.771.4386, . This casino is scheduled to be completed sometime in 2008. The casino is still open for gaming, however the hotel is being finished. Greektown casino is located in Greektown and includes several Greek restaurants. The casino has its own People Mover Station, on level 3.
- Foxtown, located along Woodward Avenue, is the nickname of Detroit's theatre district. The name comes from the city's Fox Theatre, which is the largest of the nation's fox theatres. Foxtown is home to dozens of performing arts venues. It is the second largest theatre district in the United States, after New York City's Broadway. The theatre district lies in the northern end of downtown Detroit, bordering Midtown. The nearest People Mover stations to the area are the Grand Circus Park Station, which is located at Park Street, near Woodward Avenue, and the Broadway Station, which is located at the corner of Broadway and John R. Some of the more popular theatres include:
- Fox Theatre, 2111 Woodward Avenue, ☎ 248.433.1515, . The Fox is the second largest theatre in the country after Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The theatre was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1989 and was one of the first theatres to feature live sound. The exterior of the attached 10-story building features an Art Deco facade, which lights up at night and can be seen for several blocks. The Fox is Detroit’s top venue for Broadway shows.
- Detroit Masonic Temple, 500 Temple Avenue, ☎ 313.832.7100, . This theatre is the second largest in Detroit. The 4,404-seat theatre is a prominent venue for concerts, Broadway shows, and other events. Detroit Masonic Temple was designed in the neo-gothic architectural style, using a great deal of limestone.
- The Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Avenue. Known as the State Theatre throughout most of its history, The Fillmore Detroit is located next to the larger Fox Theatre. The theater was designed as a movie house in the Renaissance Revival style of architecture
- Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway Street, ☎ 313.237.7464, . The Detroit Opera House is the venue for all Michigan Opera Theatre productions and other events. This theatre, which seats 2,700 people, first opened in 1922.
- Orchestra Hall, 3711 Woodward Avenue, ☎ 313.576.5111, . This orchestra hall is the home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The hall is renowned for its marvellous acoustic properties.
- Majestic Theatre, 4126-4140 Woodward Avenue, ☎ 313.833.9700, . A beautiful theatre designed in Art Deco, now boasting the largest enameled metal panel Art Deco facade in the Detroit metropolitan area. The theatre is currently hosts live musical acts.
- Bonstelle Theatre, 3424 Woodward Avenue, ☎ 313.577.2960, . The Bonstelle Theatre is the undergraduate theatre used by Wayne State University. It was originally built in 1902 as the Temple Beth-El. The theatre was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
- Gem Theatre, 333 Madison Avenue, ☎ 313.963.9800, . This two-level theatre used to be located in Foxtown, however due to the construction of Comerica Park, the home of the Detroit Tigers, it was moved on wheels five blocks to its present location. It is the furthest known relocation of a sizable building.
- Detroit Riverside Hotel, 2 Washington Boulevard, ☎ 313.965.0200, . Just steps away from downtown corporate and retail centers and adjacent to restaurants, nightclubs, and premier entertainment venues, the Detroit Riverside Hotel has a great location. $119-$169.
- Detroit Marriot at the Renaissance Center, Jefferson Ave., between Brush St. and Beaubien, ☎ 313.568.8000, . The tallest building in Michigan, overlooking the Detroit River, is a very popular hotel with plenty to do. Not only does it offer fine views of Detroit, Windsor, and the river, it also has dozens of shops and restaurants, movie theatres, and much more. Rooms from $130 & up.
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