Detroit, on the banks of the Detroit River in the southeastern part of Michigan, is a border town that Canadians, especially Ontarians, are familiar with. From Henry Ford to Gordie Howe and the Red Wings original six hockey rivalry, Madonna to Eminem, it’s the stuff of neighbourly history and legend. When we think of Detroit, we also think leaders of invention (hello, Mr. Ford); music (Motown) and the Ambassador Bridge, which spans the Detroit River, connecting Motor City to Windsor, On. via the busiest border crossing between the United States and Canada.
The automotive industry has been a central hub of the community – and globally – for more than 120 years, and the city’s big-picture thinkers are putting a sustainable future and a preservation of culture for generations to come.
The city is rich with stories from all walks of its vibrant community. Don’t miss the motors and the music, but go beyond. Detroit is one of only 43 UNESCO designated Cities of Design in the world – and the only one in the United States.
Finally, when visiting Detroit, make sure to bring your appetite. The rich cultural diversity of the region has led to the mixing of cuisines from around the world and resulted in an exceptional culinary scene.
New restaurant openings and expansions in Detroit continue going strong. Recently opened and soon-to-open restaurants in metro Detroit include Basan, Bar Pigalle, Bohemia, Detroit Seafood Spot, Beppe, Ima, Bonchon, C. King and Co. Café, What’s Crackin, Sugar Factory, Sauce, and a second location for much-loved vegan restaurant Detroit Soul.
There’s also a new food hall coming to Detroit. The $33 million redevelopment will bring The Mosaic, a 105,000 square foot food hall with rooftop bar, just north of Eastern Market. For a full list of where to eat and drink in Detroit, go to visitdetroit.com/food-drink.
For the Love of…
The Detroit Institute of Fine Arts is home to the Detroit Industry Murals (1932 – 1933) painted by Diego Rivera, the Mexican artist known for his somewhat politically revolutionary art. The 27 panels, considered to be one of the best representations of Rivera’s works, are now a National Historic Landmark. Rivera may not have known it then, but he sparked a mural movement in the city. With more than 500 public murals and street art installations, Detroit is a public art lover’s ultimate destination. From The Belt downtown to the Museum of Contemporary Art – MoCAD (in a converted auto dealership building, no less), the city is art.
You know it as the birthplace of Motown (more on that later), but Detroit is also known in music circles as the Rock City. From Bob Seger to The White Stripes, this town, well, rocks. Catch a show at Little Caesars Arena. How about these bold-faced names to start: Bruce Springsteen just hit the stage March 29, Blink 182 plays May 9; and Bryan Adams performs June 14. Oh, and did we mention Detroit is also the birthplace of Techno and Electronic Dance Music and, according to local music aficionados, the city’s musicians forever changed Jazz, Gospel, Hip-hop and the Blues.
Detroit is the only American City with all four major sports teams playing within 1 km of each other. This town is full of players, and we mean in a good way. The NBA, NHL, NFL and the MLB all compete here. And, since we’re on the subject of Little Caesars Arena, there are plenty of opportunities to do a double-header and we don’t just mean baseball. Take this, for example: On April 5, the Detroit Pistons hit the hardwood versus the Brooklyn Nets, while on April 6, the Detroit Red Wings lace up their skates against the Buffalo Sabres.
4. And a community spirit
Hometown boxing hero Joe Louis made an impact on the local community over his lifetime, and now his legacy is inspiring another generation. The construction is underway for the Joe Louis Greenway, which is a 27.5 mile pedestrian and bike trail that passes through five city districts, from Dearborn to Highland Park, and includes the riverfront. This homage to Louis showcases his ability to bring people together; city planners are envisioning this public space as a connector of neighbourhoods with a vision of equity and unity.
And for the Legends:
There’s no visiting Detroit without a stop at Motown. Stand in the place where some of Motown’s greatest moments – and hits! – hits were achieved. Belt one out in Studio A, the same spot where superstars Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross found their voices, and shared them with the world The Motown Museum is expanding, with a $55 million renovation underway. The Museum is dedicated to telling the Motown story. Phase one, which saw the renovation of three Motown-era homes that can function as creative and educational hubs. Next up, an outdoor public gathering green space inspired by the story, and also includes a performance stage. “The new Motown Museum plaza will be a place where residents and tourists from around the globe can come to bask in Motown music, be entertained by pop-up performances, and connect with other Motown fans on the very grounds where the Motown Sound was born and music history was made,” says Robin Terry, CEO of the Motown Museum.
For more information on the re-opening of the Motown Museum, visit www.motownmuseum.org.
6. Black History
In this city, people don’t commemorate Black History for just one month; Black history and the community is woven into the fabric of its streets, its neighbourhoods, its culture and cuisine, past, present and future. Preservation is always at the forefront: after the former home of civil rights activist Malcolm X was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, local nonprofit Project We Hope, Dream, and Believe, in collaboration with Dr. Tareq Ramadan of Wayne State University, is devising a plan for the country’s first Malcom X Museum. For more on the Malcom X Inkster Archaeological Project, visit https://pwhdab.org/
7. Henry Ford and the automobile
For more than 120 years, Detroit has been the global home of the automotive industry, but the region’s commitment to innovation has led to a new commitment to sustainable mobility. The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation is a must-see for automobile and history lovers alike. The D has also been at the forefront of the sustainability movement – this is a town built by innovators, after all. There is no better emblem for the transformation to “Mobility City” with the announcement that the city will pave the way for the first public electric vehicle (EV) charging road in the United States. Charging stations using wireless technology will line the mile-long road near the Michigan Central district – no need to plug in; just charge up the EV and go.
For more, see Visit Detroit’s list of happenings here.