20 Things Detroit Is Known And Famous For

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DETROIT is known for its AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY, SPORTS TEAMS, MUSIC AND ARTS SCENE

Michigan’s largest city, Detroit is known for its cultural, historical, and industrial heritage, along with tourist attractions and activities that have contributed greatly to the revitalization of the state. Detroit’s art and architecture are also renowned around the world, including structures such as The Guardian Building.

What Is Detroit Known For? 

Detroit is famous for its stunning landmarks and architecture, top professional sports teams, unique cuisine, and automobile industry. Some of the biggest names in the automotive business have their headquarters in the Motor City.

Detroit is also known for being the hometown of some iconic figures in the world and the birthplace of a popular music style. From the iconic Motown sound to the innovative hip-hop scene and everything in between, the city has a unique musical identity that cannot be replicated. It is also home to some of the best attractions and landmarks in Michigan.

History, Culture, And Traditions

Motown

Detroit is known for being the origin city of the Motown music style, which was named after the famous record company, Motown Records. Motown Records constituted one of the most eclectic songwriters and musicians who wrote and created hits for bands and solo artists from the 1960s. 

The record company played a key role in the development of soul and R&B music and produced hits from notable artists, such as the ”Prince of Motown” Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and The Supremes. 

Due to its cultural influence and success as one of the largest black-American-owned enterprises, Detroit was nicknamed ‘Motown’.

The Motor City

Another famous nickname for Detroit is the ”Motor City”, which it earned due to its history as the birthplace of the automobile industry in the United States. 

The establishment of companies like Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors, made Detroit the epicenter of automobile manufacturing in the early 20th century. This attracted a large workforce and investments that contributed to the fame and development of the city and region. 

The city has remained a hub for innovation and production in the automobile industry, with companies like General Motors and Ford among the top-five largest automakers in the world. 

You can even book a tour to explore the magnificent Renaissance Center building, which is the headquarters of General Motors.

Underground Railroad & Slavery 

Detroit is famous for the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses used by enslaved people to escape to freedom. Due to the city’s proximity to the Canadian border, it was an ideal site for fleeing African Americans to cross over to Canada. 

The city was also home to many abolitionists like Frederick Douglass, and it played a significant location in the fight against slavery as it hosted the likes of William Lloyd Garrison who lent his voice to the fight.

You can visit historic sites, such as the Charles H. Wright Museum of American History, the Second Baptist Church, and the Underground Railroad Living Museum to learn about this significant phase of Detroit’s history. 

There are plenty of fascinating landmarks n Detroit that are just gems for history buffs!

Art Culture 

One of the vibrant industries Detroit is known for is its art scene, with many galleries, museums, and theaters showcasing the city’s cultural heritage. 

The Detroit Institute of Arts is home to a large collection of over 65,000 works of art by local and international artists, including Vincent van Gogh and Rembrandt. Motown Museum has an impressive collection of memorabilia and records from Motown Records and its associated music stars like Marvin Gaye. 

Also, Detroit is famous for its street art scene characterized by murals and installations that color the streets of the entire city. The creativity around Detroit is intoxicating, thanks to the city’s impressive minds and notable history. 

Sports 

Sports is an important part of Detroit’s culture, with many professional sports teams based in the city, including Detroit Pistons(basketball), Detroit Red Wings(hockey), and Detroit Lions(football). 

The locals are passionate sports fans that pack the stadiums and arenas with excitement that electrifies the atmosphere of the venues. Legendary athletes like Barry Sanders, Joe Louis, and Gordie Howe have left their marks in the history of Detroit’s sport. 

The city also draws international spectators to some of its major sporting events, such as the Detroit Grand Prix and the annual Thanksgiving Day football game hosted by the Detroit Lions. 

Gastronomy And Culinary Scene

One of the most interesting aspects of Detroit’s culture is its food and cuisines, which outlines the rich heritage and diverse population of the city. One of the city’s staple foods and things Michigan is known for, Detroit-style pizza has gained international fame and is a huge attraction to foodies worldwide. 

Visitors can shop for some of the most unique raw foods and ingredients at the Eastern Market, which is one of the oldest in the country. 

Due to the city’s fascinating cuisines and revitalization, new restaurants and bars pop up throughout Detroit to give visitors and foodies a rich dining experience.

Areas And Districts

Downtown 

Downtown Detroit is the heart of the city with many of the best attractions, from theaters to music venues and sports centers. Located on the Detroit River, downtown boasts an impressive skyline and vibrant scenes. 

The district is home to some of the best trendy restaurants offering cuisine from Michigan. Some of the most notable landmarks in the district include the Renaissance Center, the Guardian Building, Comerica Park, and the Fox Theatre. 

Downtown Detroit is a dynamic area that attracts people of different interests and those looking to experience the best of Motown. It is unarguably the most prominent area Detroit is famous for. 

Corktown 

Corktown is a historic neighborhood, considered to be Detroit’s oldest. The area is home to many charming historic architecture and is known for its vibrant community and rich cultural heritage. 

Corktown used to be an industrial center but has been transformed into a cluster of trendy restaurants, boutiques, and bars. The neighborhood also hosts several annual events including the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Detroit Urban Craft Fair. 

The area is a popular tourist spot and one of the best destinations to explore and learn about some chapters of Detroit’s history. 

Eastern Market 

Eastern Market is where you find a lot of local hustle and bustle in the heart of the city. Established in the 19th century, it remains one of the oldest and largest markets in the United States. Through the years, businesses, restaurants, and shops have opened up with more than 250 independent vendors in operation. 

Also, Eastern Market is known for its vibrant street art scene, with murals and installations covering the buildings lined throughout the area. Visitors looking to get souvenirs, fresh food, and local crafts can shop while exploring the beautiful artistic expressions all around.

Architecture And Landmarks

The Guardian Building 

The Guardian Building is a magnificent skyscraper located in Downtown Detroit. The building is one of the best examples of Art Deco architecture, with intricate designs, ornate carvings, and a soaring lobby. The exterior flaunts glazing terra-cotta tiles that give it a unique appearance. 

It was originally built in 1929 as the headquarters of the Union Trust Company, the building now serves as the headquarters of Wayne County government. Due to its architectural brilliance, the building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989, making it a popular site among tourists. 

The building is open to visitors looking to explore its intricate designs, patterns, and bold colors that represent a previous era in American history. 

Renaissance Center 

Another prominent landmark Detroit is known for is the Renaissance Center, an interconnected complex consisting of seven skyscrapers, including the Detroit Marriott which is the tallest building in Michigan. 

The building was designed as a symbol of the city’s revitalization efforts and is home to shops, restaurants, and offices, including the headquarters of General Motors. The complex also features a public plaza with a  27-story glass atrium that offers sweeping views of the city to tourists. 

You can explore the fountains in the plaza and enjoy a variety of activities that are always happening around this part of downtown. 

Detroit Institute of Arts 

The Detroit Institute of Arts is a massive museum, known for its stunning architecture and housing and extensive collection of artworks from various cultures and periods. 

Some notable collections in the museum include works from Picasso, Van Gogh, and Rembrandt. Contemporary art and works of Detroit artists are also exhibited here. 

Established in 1885, the museum is the oldest in Detroit and serves as a good example of the Beaux Arts style architecture, which visitors can explore, along with the beautiful grounds. The institute also offers educational programs and events that attract a lot of participants. 

Sports In Detroit

Detroit Pistons 

One of the foremost sports teams Detroit is famous for is the Pistons, a basketball team that competes in the National Basketball Association(NBA). The Pistons play their home games at the Little Caesars Arena, which is usually packed with excited fans of the team. 

Since it became a professional basketball team in 1941, the franchise has won five Championships, consisting of two titles from the National Basketball League(NBL) and three from the NBA. In addition to their championships, the Pistons have won five Conference titles and fifteen Division titles. We are definitely expecting more silverware from them.

The team has fielded some of the most talented players in NBA history, including Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, and Ben Wallace. Their performances contributed greatly to the fame and success of the franchise. 

Detroit Tigers 

Professional baseball team, the Detroit Tigers are the most popular and oldest active sports team in Detroit. The franchise was founded in 1894 and has competed as a member of the American League since 1901. 

Detroit Tigers’ unchanged name and city location makes them the oldest continuous franchise with such a feat. This is one of the reasons why it has a special place in the hearts of the locals. 

The Tigers league achievements include at least four World Series titles, eleven Pennants, seven division titles, and one Wild Card berth. They play their home games at Comerica Park, one of the city’s notable landmarks. 

Detroit Red Wings 

Another major league franchise Detroit is famous for being its home city is the Detroit Red Wings, a hockey team that competes in the National Hockey League(NHL). 

The franchise was founded in 1926 and is part of the original six teams that founded the NHL. The red and white side has attained great success since its establishment, including becoming the American-based franchise with the most Stanley Cup championships in the league. 

In addition to the team’s Championship prestige, they have ta least six Conference championships, six Presidents’ Trophy, and nineteen division championships. 

The Red Wings play their home games at the Little Caesars Arena, which they share with the Detroit Pistons. 

Detroit Lions 

Detroit Lions is a football team that competes in the National Football League(NFL). The franchise was founded in 1930 and made its league debut the same year. 

Since the team was founded, it has won four league championships before the creation of the Super Bowl, along with four conference titles and four division titles. 

Although the team is yet to win a playoff since winning the 1957 championship, it has remained a beloved franchise to the faithful fans who always troop out excitedly to watch the Lions play at their home games at Ford Field. 

Famous Food In Detroit

Detroit-style Pizza 

One of the culinary delights Detroit is famous for is its unique style of pizza, which is characterized by its rectangular shape, crispy crust, thick sauce, and gooey cheese. 

This staple Detroit food was introduced in the 1940s at a local bar and has since gained relevance as one of the best food foods in the city. Today, you can Detroit-style pizza at various pizzerias across the city, including its origin venue, Buddy’s Pizza. 

Coney Dog 

Coney Dog is a staple Michigan food that was first introduced in Detroit in the early 1900s. The food was served by Greek immigrants who ran numerous Coney Island restaurants in the city. 

Coney Dog is prepared with ground beef, onions, garlic, and a special blend of spices, and is simmered for hours to achieve a meaty flavor. The distinct properties of its ingredients make it one of the tastiest hot dogs in the country. 

It is a unique food Detroit is known for, and you can try out the dish at many of the city’s Coney Island restaurants, including American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island.

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Famous People From Detroit 

Eminem 

Superstar rapper Marshall Bruce Mathers III, better known as Eminem, is one of the most famous people from Detroit whose unique music style has greatly influenced hip-hop culture in the United States and the world. 

Eminem was raised in Detroit and lived near 8-mile Road, where he was introduced to hip-hop and did battle raps. The area was the title of the 2002 drama hit film, which starred the artist. 

Eminem is referred to as a cultural icon and one of the greatest rappers in the history of Hip-hop. He has at least 15 Grammy Awards and sold more than 150 million records worldwide. 

Aretha Franklin 

Another musical legend Detroit is famous for producing is Aretha Franklin, referred to as the “Queen of Soul” and considered the greatest singer of all time.  

Aretha was born in Memphis, but her father, who was a minister, moved the family to Detroit when she was a child. As a child, Aretha started singing in the choir of the church where her father ministered. She was quickly noticed and got signed to Columbia Records at age 18. 

Aretha, however, gained global acclaim and commercial success when she signed with Atlantic Records and produced hits like Think, I Never Loved a Man(The Way I Love You), Chain, and so many others. 

The music icon won 18 Grammy Awards and received other numerous awards, including a posthumous Pulitzer and induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. 

Discovering More Things Detroit Is Known For 

The city has a rich culture of art, sports, and entertainment that make it unique.  If you’re looking to explore more of what Detroit is famous for, be sure to check out some great attractions in the city like the Detroit Institute of Arts, Greektown Historic District, Fox Theatre, and many others.

The city is filled with many more impressive pieces of architecture that can take days to seek out and fully explore. There are also numerous cultural events Detroit is known for hosting, and they are held across the calendar year.


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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.

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