Gillian’s Top 10 Things To Do In Detroit!

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Gillian

Gillian

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Over the past few years, people have begun to see Detroit as some sort of wasteland.  But OBVIOUSLY if you live anywhere near the city, you know there are some true gems here! There are 1,000 reasons why I love Detroit! Below are my top 10 favorite things to do :)

1. The Fox Theater: The Fox Theatre is a beautiful performing arts center in downtown Detroit, and was originally opened in 1928 as a movie theater. Did you know it’s actually the largest surviving movie palace of the 1920s!? It is 10 stories high and the unique architecture is a blend of Burmese, Indian, Persian, and Chinese.  A full restoration that took place in 1988, it now houses over 5,000 seats.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, and was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1989. Address- 2211 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201 Cost Range- 40 to 80 dollars

2. The Detroit Institute of Art: This museum was founded in 1885 on Jefferson Avenue.  Because of its rapidly-growing collection, it moved to a larger location on Woodward Avenue in 1927.  The new building, was referred to as the “temple of art.”  Two wings were added in the 1960s and 1970s, and a major renovation took place from 1999 until 2007.  It covers 658,000 square feet, and includes more than 100 galleries, a 1,150-seat auditorium, a 380-seat lecture/recital hall, an art reference library, and a state-of-the-art conservation services laboratory.  It is one of the largest collections of art in the United States, and is not only filled with American and European works of art, but also several pieces of African, Asian, Native American, Oceanic, Islamic, and Ancient art.

3. Comerica Park: Home of the Detroit Tigers!  The park itself is built around the playing field, but the surrounding buildings conform to the property boundaries of Montcalm, Witherell, Adams, and Brush Streets.  The park was renovated to include extras that most ballparks don’t have.  Thanks to a $300 million project that began on October 29, 1997, the park now includes a carousel, a Ferris wheel, a water feature in center field that can be choreographed to any music, and a decade-by-decade pedestrian museum.  The resulting feeling is a mixture of baseball and amusement park. You seriously need to take your friends from out-of town.

Comerica Park

Comerica Park

4. Belle Isle Conservatory: I’ve been coming here since I was a baby. The famous architect Frederick Law Olmsted, one of the men who helped design the buildings for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in the 1890’s, designed the Belle Isle Conservatory.  It is on the National Register of Historic Places and has over 3 million visitors per year.  Not only is it a beautiful landscape, it also includes an aquarium, playground, a driving range, a small internal zoo, a beach, and two giant slides.  It is surrounded by wetland forest, a remnant of the old forest that covered the entire area prior to the settlement of Michigan.

A pic taken by me at the Belle isle Fountain! :)

A pic taken by me at the Belle isle Fountain! :)

5. The Detroit Eastern Market: Like fresh local food?? The Detroit Eastern Market is a local food district with more than 250 vendors.  The six blocks where the market takes place have housed it since the year 1891.  Every Saturday it is transformed into a bustling marketplace with open-air stalls.  Foods sold include fruits, vegetables, flowers, homemade jams, and maple syrups.  Each week, around 40,000 people buy products at the Eastern Market.  There is also an artisan village where artists, designers, and crafters are encouraged to sell their products.  They are also sometimes open on Tuesday, and plan for this to be weekly in 2012.

6. Motown Museum: The music most associated with Detroit is probably soul.  And the most famous record company in Detroit is Motown Record Corporation.  The name “Motown” is a shortening of one of Detroit’s nicknames, “Motor Town”.  Berry Gordy Jr. founded Motown in 1960.  The innovative music that they released came to be known as the Motown Sound, a distinctive variant of soul music.  Esther Gordy Edwards founded the Motown Historical Museum in 1985.  The museum catalogues the history of the record company, from the formation to the present day.

7. Heidelberg Project: I have the most fun at this place! The Heidelberg Project is an outdoor community art environment. The elements of the canvas contain recycled materials and found objects, most of which were salvaged from the streets of Detroit. Each work of art is carefully devised to tell a story about current issues plaguing society. As a whole, the HP is symbolic of how many communities in Detroit have become discarded. It asks questions and causes the viewer to think. When you observe the HP, what do you really see? Is it art? Is it junk? Is it telling a story? That’s for you to decide.

Here's a pic I took last time I was at Heidelberg :)

Here’s a pic I took last time I was at Heidelberg :)

8. Ford Field: In 2002, the Detroit Lions began playing in a brand new, $500 million stadium.  It’s almost 2 million square feet, and seats 65,000 people.  Its unique design incorporates the old Hudson warehouse, which has been around since the 1920’s.  In the first year of operation, approximately 1.5 million people visited the stadium.  In addition to hosting the Lions, there are also other sporting events, concerts, banquets, tradeshows, business meetings, and conventions.  As a special extra bit of knowledge, there are 92 total public restrooms.

9. Greektown: Greektown Historic District was ironically first settled in the 1830’s by German immigrants.  Most of them left in the early 20th century, and new Greek immigrants moved into the area.  So, not that ironic after all.  It is a primarily commercial district today, dominated mainly by Greek restaurants, stores, and coffeehouses.  Certain buildings on Monroe Street are themed to resemble the Parthenon, Pegasus, and other forms of Greek architecture.  The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

10. Mexican Town: Mexicantown is a place where vibrantly colored buildings, decorated with even brighter murals and hand-painted signs, dot the main thoroughfares of Bagley and Vernor Streets. Then there’s the restaurant that started it all. You’ll start seeing signs advertising Mexican Village as soon as you arrive in the vicinity: “a very fine place to dine” they read, modestly for such a big sign.  Mexicantown has a huge shopping distict, but visitors also enjoy the merch, like fresh, pre-peeled prickly pears or a Lady of the Guadalupe statues.

Mural at Mexican town! :)

Mural at Mexican town! :)

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