Detroit has been known as the Motor City since the early 1900s, but there's so much more to the 313's story. For those of you who aren't up to speed on your Detroit fun facts, the city came to be in 1701 thanks to a group of French settlers/colonists. Once a fur trade hub, Detroit went through a period of civil unrest until the 1800s.
At the beginning of the 19th century, however, is when things began to fall into place for Detroit as a city and future powerhouse. Thanks to innovative planning and stunning architecture, which gave rise to the city's 19th-century nickname, the “Paris of the West," modern skyscrapers and industry made a home in the heart of Detroit.
As time went on, Detroit came into its own with the auto industry and increased immigration just around the 1920s. With the expansion of the auto industry, began the development of several prominent neighborhoods, Diego Rivera's famous Murals, and eventually, Motown Records.
Clearly, a lot of things have changed in the last 100 years, but one thing that remains true to this day is that Detroit has a lot going on and to offer. Now that you've got a glimpse of what Detroit once was, let's get into present-day 313. No longer just an industrial powerhouse, Detroit's neighborhoods took front and center stage for a variety of reasons.
Fun facts about Detroit's most popular neighborhoods
Don't just take our word for it. Check out these 50 Detroit fun facts about the city and its prominent neighborhoods — from Downtown to New Center, and everywhere in between.
For many people, Downtown and Detroit are one and the same. Sure, there were several neighborhoods you probably passed on your way to getting here, but it's somewhat hard to overlook the “Heart of the City."
Downtown is full of skyscrapers, government buildings, restaurants, bars and more. It's here where you'll find the iconic Monument to Joe Louis, also known as The Fist. But that's not all that's waiting for you.
Five fun facts about Downtown
- This area of Detroit is the birthplace of Berry Gordy's Motown. Gordy set up shop in the late 1950s and, today, Hitsville, U.S.A, and the Motown Museum have their place in the history books. A fun fact here is this wasn't the only sound that came out of Detroit. In the 1980s, techno music was born here, and the DEMF festival marks this occasion every year.
- Speaking of putting on a good show, the Fox Theatre and its surrounding area once made up the second-largest theatre district in the U.S. What's more, the Fox Theatre itself is the largest 1920s movie palace that has survived to this day.
- Yet another spot in Detroit that has its place in the record books is Belle Isle. Belle Isle is the largest island park in the U.S. and houses a nature zoo, conservatory and aquarium.
- Besides massive parks, a rich history, impressive structures from the past and music that still is the soundtrack to many of our lives, Downtown is also known for its record number of registered bowlers.
- Modern-day Detroit is also forever expanding. The 140+ bars and restaurants in Downtown Detroit are a testament to its continued urban sprawl.
Eastern Market is the beloved commercial district of Detroit. First opened in 1841, this area of Detroit still sells a variety of produce, flowers, meats and more. Detroiters and outdoor market lovers alike flock to this 43-acre section of the city, typically on a Saturday or Sunday. With that being said, there's more to Eastern Market than just food and shopping.
Five fun facts about Eastern Market
- A growing restaurant scene is definitely a big draw for Detroiters since many of us are die-hard foodies. At Eastern Market, there's always something tasty, gastronomically innovative and deliciously exciting happening around these parts.
- There's also an emerging art scene, which includes murals, galleries, art sales and outdoor art shows.
- Better still, Eastern Market hosts several you-just-had-to-be-there festivals throughout the year.
- Another fun fact is the Grand Trunk Railway (once an important method of transportation in Michigan) was converted into bike trails called the Dequindre Cut.
- In the big scheme of things, Eastern Market is a 170-year-old landmark and one of the nation's oldest urban farmers' markets.
If you decide to take your bicycle out along the Dequindre Cut, you can pedal to Rivertown from Eastern Market. Once there, you'll find a trendy waterside district. The plethora of warehouses that once dominated this area have been converted into chic lofts and apartments for rent, 5-star restaurants, shopping boutiques, a movie theatre and so on.
Five fun facts about Rivertown-Warehouse District
- Many of the converted Rivertown warehouses date back to 1899 and were only turned into modern-day spaces in the late 1980s. As a result, many of these buildings have a rich history.
- This area of Detroit is a prime location for many people because it's near Belle Isle, Chen Park, West Village and the Detroit River.
- This neighborhood is also home to the MacArthur Bridge, which was originally comprised of wood. However, in 1923, the bridge burned down and had to be rebuilt. Now, this beloved landmark is made of iron.
- Just beyond the MacArthur Bridge, lies the marina and Riverwalk. This scenic space is a wonderful spot to take in the beauty of the Detroit River, and it's also an excellent place to watch the boats go by (including the Coast Guard boats).
- Furthermore, the Detroit River itself has quite a few interesting or rather fun facts, including that it's the only international wildlife refuge in North America, it's a nationally recognized spot for walleye fishing, and a sizable bald eagle population resides here.
Detroit's Art Center District is known for being a family-friendly neighborhood with an artsy vibe and a wealth of museums/galleries. If you're an art lover or history buff, then this part of Detroit is for you.
Five fun facts about Art Center District
- Dubbed as the epicenter of art and culture, people love this district's quiet historical feel and proximity to Detroit's bustling areas.
- The Detroit Institute of Art (DIA) is also located in the vicinity of this neighborhood. Built in 1888, this museum did relocate in 1927. Nevertheless, those of you who have not had the pleasure of strolling through the DIA on a summer day and eating lunch in their airy, almost landscape-painting-like eatery are missing out.
- Besides art, history and a wonderful café, the DIA also has a movie theater where indie films are shown.
- Other points of interest in the Art-Center are the Detroit Science Center, the Charles Wright Museum of African American History (which is home to the world's largest African American culture exhibit), Detroit Public Library and the College for Creative Studies.
- In addition to this college, Wayne State University borders this district.
Despite its name, Brush Park is actually a historic district, and one of the oldest neighborhoods in Detroit. Here, people marvel at the mansions and overall incredible architecture. But that's not all Brush Park has to offer.
Five fun facts about Brush Park
- In the 1700s, this area was once a farm or, rather, part of the Askin family's ribbon farm. A ribbon farm is typically a narrow and long section of land that runs along a waterway.
- This district is called Brush Park because the original owners, the Askin family, did not agree with American Independence and so they moved to Canada in 1802. However, this district, then a farm, was left to Askin's son-in-law, Elijah Brush.
- As time went on, wealthy families moved to this neighborhood in the early years. But with the 1920's auto industry boom, many of those families relocated to other areas further from the city.
- By the 1960s, Brush Park was abandoned and was not recognized as a historical district until the 1980s.
- Today's Brush Park is seeing a revival, with new townhouses, outdoor parks, BMX/skate parks, shopping centers and more.
Redford is a suburb of Detroit and is located just on the outskirts of the city. Established in 1827, this area was once called Springwells Township and Bucklin Township. In 1833, however, this neighborhood was renamed, and no one has looked back since.
Modern-day Redford is slightly smaller as portions of land were annexed by Detroit. Nevertheless, Redford became a charming family-focused neighborhood and now has some of the most affordable apartments for rent in Michigan.
Five fun facts about Redford
- Redford has a diverse selection of outdoor attractions like the Rouge River, which is technically called the River Rouge. A significant portion of the Rouge River runs through Redford and likely why settlers named the river accordingly.
- Rouge is French for “red" so you can see that the French influence even made it to the outskirts of Detroit.
- Redford is approximately 15 miles from the heart of the city.
- Redford's Glenhurst Golf Course is considered the “golden jewel" of golf courses in Michigan.
- Other top sights here include the Bell Creek Nature Preserve, Nola Bend Recreational Park and Sir Shirdi Saibaba (A Hindu temple).
If you're a young professional looking for a home-base in Detroit, look no further. Midtown is where you'll find the Cultural Center, the Detroit Medical Center, Wayne State University, Motor City Brewing Works and Avalon International Breads. Ultimately, these are just a few reasons you will feel right at home.
Five fun facts about Midtown
- Despite everything here, Midtown only spans two blocks.
- Nevertheless, within those two blocks, there are several architectural wonders like the Addison Hotel designed by Albert Kahn and the C. Howard Crane designed Fine Arts Theatre.
- Midtown is also home to Third Man Records, which is a dream come true for all you vinyl lovers.
- This Detroit area is known for its 24+ unique restaurants and the city's first Whole Foods Market.
- If you are looking for a place to kick back and relax, then Kresge Court, which is often referred to as Midtown's living room, is your new chill spot.
Corktown spans several city blocks and is just west of the Downtown area. Corktown has a rich history like so many of these neighborhoods, but what really makes this place stand out is its seamless transition from Irish immigrant settlement area to hipster haven.
Five fun facts about Corktown
- This neighborhood got its name from the simple fact that most of the Irish immigrants that settled here were originally from County Cork in Ireland.
- Even Corktown bars have deep roots. For example, PJ's Lager House is a community staple and has been operating since 1914. This is definitely the place to grab a beer on Friday night and listen to local bands.
- After your beer, if you feel even slightly hungry, the place to go is Slows Bar BQ. This barbeque joint is a city and state favorite. Slows was even a finalist on the Travel Channel's hunt for the best sandwiches in America.
- Another notable eatery here is Astro Coffee, which opened in 2017. This quaint coffee shop was and still is Corktown's largest development project in decades.
- Besides amazing barbeque or tried and true lager, Corktown has a few other claims to fame like the fact that it is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city (dating all the way back to the 1850s).
Yet another Detroit gem is Greektown. But don't let the name fool you, it was German immigrants that actually settled here first in the 1830s, and it was not until 1890 that the first Greek immigrants took up residence in this neighborhood.
Nevertheless, by the 1920s, this historical district had made a name for itself and opened wonderful businesses, shops and more.
Five fun facts about Greektown
- The Victorian-era commercial streetscapes in this neighborhood are original and the last surviving remnants of that particular era in Detroit.
- In the 1960s, Greektown was reduced to a single city block thanks to the need for more public parking.
- Subsequently, the first-ever Greek festival in Detroit was held in 1965 to ensure that Greektown would remain a historic district.
- As a result, Greektown is still a thriving historic district and is now home to the Greektown Casino-Hotel. This casino opened its doors in 2000 and is one of three Detroit casinos.
- In general, this neighborhood is seen as a hub of fun and entertainment, thus, it's only natural for Detroiters to post-game here, especially if the Tigers, Red Wings, or Lions are playing.
Last but not least, New Center is a prominent neighborhood just north of Midtown. This district was also once home to General Motors (GM) before it relocated Downtown in the 1990s. But that's not where the story begins and ends with New Center, as it always had more to offer and never missed a beat.
Five fun facts about New Center
- The iconic art deco-style Fisher Building and Cadillac Place are also located in New Center. These buildings are truly a sight to behold and are absolutely breathtaking on the inside.
- The Fisher Building, for instance, has a wealth of bedazzled businesses, shops and the Fisher Theatre.
- The Fisher Theatre was built in 1928 and originally had a Mayan Temple theme, which was later changed to a more simplistic mid-century modern design.
- Henry Ford Medical Center made a home for itself in New Center, as well. This particular hospital is nationally recognized for its innovations in a variety of medical fields.
- Finally, one of the most recent city revamps gave birth to the QLine Streetcar, which made its debut in New Center. The QLine is a fun and great way to get around major parts of Detroit with ease.
Whatever neighborhood catches your eye, why not check out some apartments to rent or homes to buy in Detroit?