Belle Isle is Bigger than Central Park
It is also the largest island park in the country. The park was opened in 1884, the same fella who designed Central Park, Frederick Law Olmstead was commissioned to design Belle Isle, but his submission was largely ignored. If you haven’t been to Belle Isle, we would highly suggest it. It is a thing of stunning beauty.
Detroit Was the First City to Pave a Road
There is a reason Woodward Avenue is called 1 on the signs. It was the first stretch of concrete highway anywhere in the world. This was a big leap, roads were made of gravel before and cars were perpetually stuck once things got wet. The Davison Freeway was the first major highway, and the tunnel between Windsor and Motown was the first underground tube between two countries.
Detroit Was Responsible For Most of the Booze Coming into The United States During Prohibition
All things alcohol became illegal in the United States in January, 1920. Prohibition wasn’t exactly popular with most people in the country. It also doesn’t take a criminal mastermind to look across the Detroit River and see Canada. It is not even a mile across in many places, making it an ideal highway for smuggling spirits. Winter especially became a bootleggers paradise, with the river frozen over it was an easy feat. Lake St. Clair and the St. Claire River heading towards Port Huron were also sieves in which liquor passed through.
Detroit Was An Important Last Stop on The Underground Railroad
However horrible it may have been, Slavery is a very harsh reality in our collective history. Even though the northern states had abolished slavery, after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, escaped slaves were no longer safe in the north. If they were found by their masters, they would be dragged back to The South. Detroit, which is 1 mile from Canada became an integral stop on the Underground Railroad. Many bars and other buildings around the city have access to the tunnel system that led into Canada. Here is a link to a few ways to experience this important history.
The Square Mileage of San Francisco, Manhattan, and Boston All Fit Into Detroit’s 139 Square Miles
Vernors Is The Oldest Surviving Ginger Ale Brand In The United States
Created in 1866 by Detroit pharmacist, James Vernor. Vernor’s soda wasn’t the first, but it has hung in there, and stood the test of time.
Home to the Only Floating Post Office in the U.S.
You may have noticed the J.W. Westcott II, plying the waters of the Detroit River. It is the only floating post office in The United States. The Westcott even has its own ZIP Code, 48222. The vessel serves as mail delivery, messenger service, and passenger service between various boats travelling the river.
Detroit Has the Most Registered Bowlers in The United States
Is the Birthplace of Motown
The sound was created by Berry Gordy in 1957. The music still resonates today. You don’t have to be from anywhere near Detroit to appreciate Motown. Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, and Diana Ross all got their start here in Detroit. The list is far too long to place in this post. You can take a walk into history by visiting the Hitsville Museum on Grand Blvd…
First Ever News Radio Broadcast
You can still listen to WWJ til this day. Going on air in August, 1920, the station was originally called 8MK, and later changed. The station’s first home was the Detroit New’s Building. Its wild to think that almost 100 years later, both are still operating. The internet has not dealt the death blow yet.
Canada Is South of Detroit
There is an Enormous Salt Mine Beneath the City
400 million years ago a gigantic sea covering the region evaporated, leaving behind vast salt deposits. Detroit sits atop a section of a 170,000 square mile salt bed that stretches through Ontario, into Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York. There are over 50 miles of roads carved into the salt. The Detroit Salt Company has been operating for over 100 years. On our last check, the mines were still closed to tourists. For a time you could visit the mine.
This is Also the Birthplace of Techno
It started in the 80’s and is accredited to Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins. The three friends are considered the root of what has now become a global phenomenon. If you have been around Detroit awhile, you may have gone to one of the legendary raves in the 1990’s. Every summer the electric music festival Movement, pays homage to that electronic sound. Here is a link to our list of best Techno Documentaries.
The Detroit Marriot Renaissance Center is One of the Tallest Hotels in the Nation
The Detroit Renaissance Center is the headquarters for General Motors. Besides GM the RenCen is also home to the 68 story Detroit Marriot. You can grab a drink or dinner at The Coach Insignia, a restaurant all the way at the top. The view is unreal, and certainly something to check off your Detroit bucket list.
Based on Consumption, Detroit is the Potato Chip Capital of the World.
We are home to Better Made Snack Foods, and Detroiters have grown up eating potato chips. According to some estimates, Detroiters eat close to 7 lbs. of chips each year. That is 3x the national average. Not sure if that is something to be proud of, but sometimes you just have to be number one in a few things.