Detroit Fun Facts

Detroit Skyline

For many people, even the word “Detroit” brings to mind images of crime, cars and poverty. But no city can really be that black and white. The things you don’t know about Detroit might just entertain you.


• is home to the Motown sound founded by Berry Gordy Jr. in 1957

• is home to the first Van Gogh painting in a public collection in the U.S. at the Detroit Institute of Arts, “Self Portrait,” Vincent Van Gogh, 1887

• installed the first mile of paved concrete road, just north of the Model T plant, on Woodward Avenue between McNichols and 7 Mile Roads in 1909

• built the nation’s first urban freeway, the Davison, in 1942

• is home to the oldest state fair in the nation — the Michigan State Fair, first held in 1849

• is the potato chip capital of the world, based on consumption

• has country’s largest island park within a city — Belle Isle Park

• is home to the world’s only floating post office, the J.W. Westcott II, can be found on the Detroit River

• is north of Canada

• is second in the nation in fishing rod sales

• shares the world’s first auto traffic tunnel between two nations – the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel

• is home to the tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere – the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center, at 727 feet/73 stories

• the nation’s first soda — Vernors — created in Detroit by pharmacist James Vernor in 1862. Detroit is also home to Sanders hot fudge, Better Made Potato Chips, Faygo soda pop, Stroh’s Ice Cream

• has the most registered bowlers in the United States

• was the first city in the nation to assign individual telephone numbers in 1879

• has 18 professional theaters, making it the second largest theater district in America next to New York. Detroit has more theater seats than any other city, east of the Mississippi River, outside New York City

• Eastern Market, located between Russell and Gratiot in Detroit, is the largest open-air wholesale/retail market of its kind in the United States with more than 150 food-related businesses

• the Detroit Institute of Arts has one of the largest, most significant art collections in the nation. From the first painting donated in 1883 to the most recent acquisition, its collection boasts more than 60,000 works

• Detroit’s Campus Martius Park was #4 on a list of the 12 best public squares in the U.S. and Canada, as ranked by Projects for Public Spaces

• receives freighters from over 100 world ports on the Detroit River

• was founded in 1701 by the frenchman Antoine de la Mothe Cadilla

• is the only American city along the Canadian border in which you have to travel south in order to get to it

• has temperature ranges from below zero in the winter, to upwards of 100 degrees in the summer

• Faygo Pop, a staple company of the city, was founded in 1907

• supplied 75% of liquor during Prohibition

• had the first ever news radio broadcast

• has huge salt mines that lie beneath the city

• was also the birthplace of techno

• is the Sports Capital of the Midwest

• was once the 4th largest city in the us but has steadily declined since the riots of the 60’s (now 11th) 1.8 million people in 1950…. 918,000 estimated now

• is nick-named hockey town due to the wings winning 17 championships

• was the capitol of Michigan from 1805-47

• fell to the British in the war of 1812 and wasn’t recaptured for a year

• the lions won 3 NFL championships… but not a Superbowl

• almost EVERY picture taken of Detroit… to show it’s great skyline…. is taken from Canada

• is French for “Of the strait” due to the fact they are located on a strait

Detroit is a complex city. Take a little time to actually learn about it and you’ll find it is actually quite fascinating…for a variety of reasons.

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