"Dog Walking Downtown Detroit" Top 5 Page for this destination Detroit by atufft

Detroit Travel Guide: 686 reviews and 1,504 photos

Californian delivers produce to Motown

On the west coast of the USA, conventional belief is that Detroit is a washed up "rust belt" city that's jobless, shrinking, and dangerous. For years, its seems, Detroit has hosted a social battle between white capped management and largely black labor, and as a result, junky rattle trap cars come off the assembly line, in comparison to the neatly fabricated and long lasting vehicles that ship across the lake from Japan.

Yet, those us from California do pay tribute to Detroit as a once awesome industrial city where three of the world's largest manufacturers, and countless small auto suppliers, had headquarters. We also remember the powerful Motown sound, which produced Top Hit artists including Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye to name just a few.

So, recently when provided an opportunity to deliver produce to the Detroit Produce Terminal, I decided to take a couple days off and walk the dog around downtown to shoot some pictures. It was soon apparent that Detroit was a grand and complex city not well understood by the rest of the nation.

Origins of Detroit

The name "Detroit" comes directly from the word for "strait", referring to the outstanding location of the city on a narrow deep water channel known as the Detroit River, linking the upper Great Lakes to the Lower Great Lakes, which are also linked to the St Lawrence Seaway. Specifically, the Detroit River is situated between Lake St Clair and Lake Erie, and so the city of Detroit (1701) benefits from an outstanding natural harbor, much superior, for example, to either Cleveland (1796) or Chicago (1832), both of which were founded much later.

Founded by Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac, Detroit served for more than a half century as the largest European town between Montreal and New Orleans, an isolated French fur trapping outpost and fortress before the British assumed control in 1760. Although Detroit became part of the Northwest territory ceded after the American Revolution, British sponsored tribal hostilities limited control of the region until 1795, when General Anthony Wayne defeated decisively a combined force of tribes at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

The current downtown street plan originated in 1805 after the city was nearly completely destroy by fire. The radial design was intentionally similar to Washington, D.C., with circular roads starting at Grand Circus Park in the theater district. Most of early Detroit is now gone, having been rebuilt beginning in the 1880's to the substantial brick warehouse and concrete and steel highrise now familiar to downtown.

Industrial Powerhouse Once Removed

During most of the 20th Century, Detroit was one of the most important industrial cities in the world. Detroit remains arguably the most important automobile capitol of manufacturing, being the home of Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, and being the graveyard of a dozen or so other smaller automobile companies that either became part of the big three, or became bankrupt. In addition, Detroit is leading producer for other manufacturing, petrochemical processing, and food processing industries. The wealth of the city is very apparent in the old established neighborhoods with finely crafted homes, such as the historically significant Indian Village, but also in the stunning collection of fine old and ornately decorated factory buildings. Since Detroit has been on the verge of bankruptcy for years now, preservation of all these architectural gems is quite a challenge. Adding to this challenge is the spread out geography of the city, where whole neighborhoods of rundown and abandoned homes and businesses would appear in serious need of bulldozing, and where new transit projects to spur access to downtown are made more expensive by the distances.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Great Industrial Era Architectural
  • Cons:Vacant Skyscrapers and Dangerous Unemployment
  • In a nutshell:Can't Miss Motown on a Drive Through the Midwest
  • Intro Updated Jun 3, 2013
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Reviews (41)

Comments (5)

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Apr 17, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    A very interesting and balanced look at Detroit. Thanks for including the opera house. It's sad that so many skyscrapers, but also one-family houses, are standing empty and gardually deteriorating.

  • KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo
    Nov 29, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    We never get down south to Detroit, but I checked out the train station tip, what a large, interesting looking building.

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Nov 27, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    You've done such a good job presenting Detroit. You've captured its beauty, history, and sadness. The churches, bridges, parks, and architecture tips were especially wonderful. My favorite was the Book Tower. Terrific and powerful photographs.

  • glabah's Profile Photo
    Nov 25, 2011 at 10:25 PM

    Hope they are able to preserve just some of the structures that you were able to get photographs of. If not, then I am very glad someone with an appreciation of architecture was able to visit and get some photos of them beforehand.

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Nov 25, 2011 at 8:40 AM

    My one visit to Detroit was some 35 years ago - we drove across from Chicago to visit Deerfield Park (?) on a beautiful autumn day. We had a baby with us, but no dog!


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