Detroit/Midtown-New Center

Travel Guide North America USA Midwestern United States Michigan Detroit Detroit/Midtown-New Center

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Introduction

Midtown is the cultural center of Detroit. It is home to several museums and galleries, such as the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Just north of Midtown is New Center. This area developed in the 1920s as a business hub that would offer convenient access to both downtown and outlying factories. New Center is home to some great 1920s architecture. The Midtown-New Center area is bounded by I-75 to the east and south, M-10 to the west, and Highland Park to the north.

Detroit's New Center is considered to be the world's first edge city, a business hub remote from, but related to, a main urban core. It developed in the 1920s with the construction of several historic buildings, such as the Cadillac Place and the Fisher Building. Some of these buildings were designed by Albert Kahn, who is called the Architect of Detroit as he designed dozens of historic buildings in Detroit in the 1920s.

Detroit's Midtown attracts millions of people annually with its great museums and other cultural centers. It is also home to Wayne State University's main campus. On any given day, Midtown is probably the busiest place in town, with three times its population commuting in.

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Sights and Activities

Midtown

Colonel Frank Hecker House, 5510 Woodward Ave. Built in 1888, this château-styled house would make you think you were in Paris. It houses offices, but it is still worth a stop to just see the architecture. The house was based on the Château de Chenonceaux near Tours, France.
Detroit Public Library, 5201 Woodward Ave (at Farnsworth Ave), ☏ +1 313 833-1000. Tu-W noon-8PM, Th-Sa 10AM-6PM. Built in 1921, the Italian Renaissance building features white Vermont marble. It holds the second largest collection of books in Michigan after the library at the University of Michigan. Free.
Maccabees Building (Wayne Tower), 5057 Woodward Ave. This high-rise truss tower was constructed in the neo-gothic architectural style, using a great deal of limestone, much like the Detroit Masonic Temple. This Albert Kahn-designed building is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Old Main, 4841 Cass Ave. Old Main has been a part of Wayne State University's main campus since it was built in 1934. It was built over a four-year period out of limestone from the land directly in front of it. The structure was designed in a Classical Revival style.
The David Whitney House
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E Warren Ave, ☏ +1 313 494-5800. Tu-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM. This museum, founded in 1965, holds the world's largest permanent exhibit on African American culture. Artwork in the main rotunda features the names of figures from African-American history, such as Prince Hall. See how many you know! $8 adults, $5 children and seniors.
Detroit Historical Museum, 5401 Woodward Ave, ☏ +1 313 833-1805. Tu-F 9:30AM-4PM, Sa Su 10AM-5PM. This museum chronicles the entire history of Detroit, from the time of French settlement to the 21st century. The Detroit Historical Museum was founded in 1914 when historian Clarence M. Burton donated his collection to the Detroit Public Library, which led to the creation of the museum. Free.
Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave, ☏ +1 313 833-7900. W Th 10AM-5PM, F 10AM-10PM, Sa Su 10AM-6PM. It has one of the largest and most significant art collections in the United States. The DIA ranked as the second largest city-owned museum in the United States with an art collection worth more than $1 billion. Its first painting was donated in 1883, and today its collection consists of over 65,000 works. The actual building of this 677,000 square foot museum is highly regarded by architects. $8 adults, $6 seniors, $4 youth.
Michigan Science Center, 5020 John R St, ☏ +1 313 577-8400. M-F 9AM-3PM, Sa Su 10AM-6PM. This museum features many hands on exhibits and a IMAX Dome theater, a planetarium, and a kids' town during special events.
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, 4454 Woodward Ave, ☏ +1 313 832-6622. W Sa & Su 11AM-5PM, Th F 11AM-8PM. This non-collecting contemporary art museum is housed in a 22,000 square foot building that used to be a car dealership. The architecture is intentionally raw and unfinished, and is intended to reflect the scars of urban blight which surround it. Free.
First Living Museum, 33 E Forest Ave (at Woodward Ave), ☏ +1 313 831-4080. Underground Railroad museum at the First Congregational Church of Detroit; a one-hour re-enactment Flight to Freedom Tour has visitors shackled with wrist bands at the beginning of an Escape as passengers on a simulated Underground Railroad where they are led to Freedom by a Conductor, hiding from bounty hunters, crossing the Ohio River to seek refuge in Levi Coffin's abolitionist safe house in Indiana before arriving to “Midnight”, code name for Détroit, and safe haven at the First Congregational Church of Detroit before reaching Canada and freedom. $12-15/person.
Orchestra Hall.
Masonic Temple Theatre. Located in one of the worlds largest Masonic temples.
East Ferry Avenue Historic District.
West Canfield Historic District.
Brush Park Historic District (Woodward East), on Alfred, Edmund, and Watson Streets from Brush Street to John R Street. It is known for its restored High Victorian-style residences constructed for Detroit's wealthy of the late 19th century.

New Center

Argonaut Building, 485 W Milwaukee St. This building, designed by Albert Kahn, is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The 275-unit structure structure is an Art Deco building, and uses primarily brick and limestone in its materials.
Cadillac Place, 3044 West Grand Blvd. This National Historic Landmark opened as the second largest office building in the world. Designed by noted architect Albert Kahn, it is an exquisite example of Neo-Classical architecture. As the General Motors Building, it housed the company's world headquarters from 1923 until 1996, when the company moved downtown.
Fisher Building, 3011 W Grand Blvd. This National Historic Landmark lies in the heart of New Center. The Fisher Building is a good enough reason to visit New Center. The office building rises 30-stories with a roof height of 428 ft. Designed in Art Deco, it is considered Albert Kahn's greatest work. The year of its construction, the Fisher building was honored by the Architectural League of New York as the year's most beautiful commercial structure. The building has been called Detroit's largest art object. Free tours of Fisher Building are available (check website for exact schedule).
Motown Museum / Hitsville U.S.A, 2648 W Grand Blvd, ☏ +1 313 875-2264. T-Sa 10AM-6PM. "Hitsville U.S.A." is the nickname of Motown Records first headquarters. It was purchased by Motown founder Berry Gordy in 1959, and converted into the record label's administrative building and recording studio. All of the early Motown hits by artists such as Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Marvelettes, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, The Temptations, The Supremes, Martha & the Vandellas, The Jackson 5, and The Four Tops, among others, were recorded in the studio at Hitsville. Since 1985, the Hitsville U.S.A. building has been the site of the Motown Historical Museum, dedicated to the legacy of the record label, its artists, and its music. Owned and operated by Esther Gordy Edwards, sister of Berry Gordy, the Motown Museum contains exhibits featuring costumes, photos, and records from Motown's success era. Also featured are Motown's "Studio A" and Berry Gordy's upstairs apartment, decorated to appear as they did during the 1960s. $15 adults, $10 seniors & children.
Arden Park-East Boston, on East Boston and Arden Park Boulevards. This neighborhood was created in 1892 with spacious lots to attract the city's wealthier residents. Architectural styles represented in Arden Park-East Boston include Italian Renaissance, Colonial Revival, Tudor, Bungalow style and Prairie Style. The neighborhood's most prominent landmark is the Gothic-styled Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Boston-Edison, West Boston Boulevard, Chicago Boulevard, Longfellow Avenue, and Edison Avenue, stretching from Woodward Avenue on the east to Linwood Avenue on the west. This neighborhood consists of over 900 homes, making it the largest residential historic district in the nation. In 1891, Edward W. Voigt obtained the land that makes up Boston-Edison and platted spacious lots and set building restrictions that established the unique character of the neighborhood. Architectural styles represented include English Tudor revival, Roman and Greek Revival, French Provincial, Colonial Revival, Italian Renaissance, Prairie Style, and Vernacular. Henry Ford was one of the earliest residents of this neighborhood.
Piquette Avenue Industrial, along Piquette Street, from Woodward Avenue on the west to Hastings Street on the east. The area along Piquette was an important center for automobile production in the early 20th century. Several automakers, such as Ford, Dodge, and Cadillac, had plants in this area. The Ford Piquette Plant, a National Historic Landmark, is a three-story mill-style building and where the first Model Ts were built.

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Events and Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Getting There

If coming from the north: Take I-75 South to Exit 53A towards Warren Avenue. Keep straight to go onto Chrysler Drive. Next, turn right onto Warren Avenue East. You will then arrive in Midtown and stay straight on Woodward or Cass Avenues.

If coming from the south: Take I-75 North towards Detroit and continue to Exit 50 towards Grand River Avenue. Keep straight to go onto the Fisher Freeway West. Finally, turn left onto Woodward and you will arrive in Midtown.

If coming from the east: Take I-94 West and continue to Exit 215C toward M-1/Woodward Ave/Brush Street. Keep straight to get onto the Edsel Ford Freeway East. Finally, turn left onto Woodward Avenue and you will arrive in Midtown.

If coming from the west: Take I-96 East and take Exit 190A to merge onto I-94 East towards Port Huron. Take the M-1/Woodward Ave Exit 215C toward John R Road. Keep straight to go onto the Edsel Ford Freeway East. Turn right onto John R Road. Next, turn right again onto Hendrie Street to Woodward Avenue and you will arrive in Midtown.

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Eat

Seva, 66 E Forest, ☏ +1 313 974-6661. 100% vegetarian food, very vegan friendly, gluten-free options always available upon request, including desserts! Located behind an art gallery with entrance on the side of the building, very urban chic, and delicious!
Avalon Bakery, 422 W Willis St, ☏ +1 313 832-0008. Assorted breads, vegetarian sandwiches, cookies, muffins, coffee and espresso are served here. Located in the Cass Corridor near Wayne State. Bread is $3.25-5 a loaf.
Cass Cafe, 4620 Cass Ave, ☏ +1 313 831-1400. M-F 11AM-11PM; bar until 2AM; Sa 5PM-1AM; bar until 2AM; Su 5PM-10PM; bar until midnight.. Hip restaurant, bar & art gallery in the Cass Corridor near Wayne State. Voted "Best place to take friends from New York" by the Metro Times. $5-10.
Goldengate Café, 18700 Woodward Ave (3 blocks south of 7 Mile), ☏ +1 313 831-1400. M-Tu noon-8PM, W-Th 11AM-11PM, F noon-11PM, Sa noon-9PM, Su noon-7PM. Friendly vegan cafe. Busiest nights are on Wednesday when they have a drum circle. Most entrées: $7-$9.
Traffic Jam and Snug, 511 W Canfield St, ☏ +1 313 831-9470, ✉ tjsnug@traffic-jam.com. M-Th 11AM-10:30PM, F Sa 11AM-Midnight, Su 11AM-8PM. Bakery, dairy and brewery. This was one of the first brew pubs in Michigan. Has a vegetarian sandwich, vegetarian burger and vegetarian burrito.
Roma Cafe, 3401 Riopelle (Via Roma) (at Erskine).
Shangri-La, 4710 Cass (Cass & Forest), ☏ +1 313 974-7669. Detroit's dim sum. Excellent Chinese food and sushi.
Union Street, 4145 Woodward Ave (between Alexandrine and Willis). Very good food, great drinks.
Cuisine Restaurant (French), 670 Lothrop, Detroit (New Center area, behind the Fisher Theatre).
David Whitney House, 4421 Woodward Avenue, ☏ +1 313 832-5700. The David Whitney House was built in 1894 for one of Michigan's wealthiest citizens at the time, David Whitney. It has 52 rooms, 218 windows, 20 fireplaces, a secret vault in the dining room, and an elevator. The house has been a restaurant since 1986.

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Drink

The Bronx Bar, 4476 2nd Ave (at Prentis), ☏ +1 313 832-8464. Until 2AM daily. "The darkest bar on the planet." The Bronx is a dive bar by any scale, however the drinks are very effective, the pool table works and the jukebox has depth. This is a place to go to relax and knock back a few with your buddies, or to bring an ugly date you just don't want to look at. However, watch where you park your car, as the parking lot across the street is not public and they will tow your car after the businesses in the strip mall close. PBR is $1. Also, enjoy the unique experience of coming out of a bar at 2AM and blinking because it's so bright outside.
The Old Miami, 3930 Cass Ave (between Selden and Alexandrine), ☏ +1 313 831-3830. M-Sa 10AM-2AM, Su noon-2AM. "Miami" is an acronym for "Missing in Action Michigan"; as such the walls in this Midtown dive bar are lined with memorabilia from the Vietnam War and other battles. War vets, bikers, punks, students, and others come here for the cheap drinks, live gigs, and the spacious backyard, which hosts some events during the summer months.
Union Street Saloon, 4145 Woodward Ave (between Willis and Alexandrine), ☏ +1 313 831-3965. M-W 11:30AM-midnight, Th 11:30AM-1AM, F 11:30AM-2AM, Sa 4PM-2AM, Su 11:30AM-8PM. Union Street’s building dates back to the early 1900s when a hardware store/auto parts store were part of a thriving Woodward Avenue. Across the street is the Garden Bowl and the Majestic Theatre built in 1918 and remains in operation. The menu is a creative fusion of American, European, and Asian inspired dishes. $5-$20.
Hopcat, 4265 Woodward Ave, ☏ +1 313 769-8828. Has a wide variety of beers.

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Sleep

Inn at 97 Winder, 97 Winder St, ☏ +1 313 832-4348, toll-free: +1 800-925-1538, fax: +1 313 832-4543. Elegant, luxurious, Victorian mansion in downtown just two blocks from Comerica Park.
Inn on Ferry Street, 84 E Ferry St (between Woodward and John R), ☏ +1 313 871-6000. A collection of luxurious Victorian bed & breakfasts lining Ferry St. in a historic district downtown. Adjacent to the world renowned Detroit Institute of Arts.
Hotel St. Regis Detroit, 3071 W Grand Blvd (between Woodward and 2nd), ☏ +1 313 873-3000, fax: +1 313 873-2574. Luxury hotel in stately European styled elegance, casual, old-world feel, intimate setting, urban location, fine restaurant, La Musique - Cajun steakhouse, private fitness center, in the historic New Center area with Cadillac Place, adjoins the beautiful Fisher Theatre, a National Historic Landmark, featuring Broadway shows, behind is Cuisine (French) Restaurant. Nearby are Ford Hospital, Wayne State University, Motor City Casino, and downtown.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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This is version 4. Last edited at 14:05 on Sep 30, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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