Archive for the ‘7Gifts’ Category

Detroit’s 7th Gift to the World: Automobiles


Yesterday was Motown and Detroit music. Today, we give the world our final gift this year: the automobile.

Detroit isn’t called the Motor City for nothing. True, other cities (and countries – notably Europe) had autos before Detroit. But it was Detroit that took the automobile to a whole new level, bringing it to the masses, and changing life for Americans and the rest of the world.

Despite the Big 3’s current uphill battle to hang onto market share in the U.S., Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler are forces to be reckoned with, both domestically and abroad, and Detroit remains the auto capital of the world. Detroit’s domestic automakers are also major contributers to the local, regional, national and global economy: GM is number 3 on the 2006 Fortune 500 list, and Ford is number 5. Auto-related companies Delphi, Lear, Visteon, and Masco are in the top 200, as well. GM is the world’s largest automaker and has been the global industry sales leader for 75 years, and the Big 3’s contributions to the city of Detroit and the area of Southeastern Michigan in everything from funding arts and culture activities to proactive environmental land use is enormous.

The auto industry is more than just cars, though. From the introduction of windshield wipers to the first mile of paved concrete, Detroit and its auto industry have made the world a better place and shaped today’s society. Here’s a brief historic timeline highlighting important dates and happenings in Detroit’s auto industry from the late 1890s through 1971:

Detroit’s Fifth Gift to the World: Detroit’s Stock of Pre-Depression Architecture

Lower Woodward DensityAs with any large city, there is a large mix of architecture and density. Detroit is no different, but most are unaware that the city has been known to boast having the most surviving pre-depression skyscrapers in the nation.

How is this you ask? Fortunately the city never tore them down in a nasty thing called urban renewal. The large urban renewal that swept the nation around the 60s never occurred in Detroit because there wasn’t as much progress in the city, so the plots of land that contained skyscrapers didn’t need to be cleared for new developments.

Anywhere you look in the city, you will see a pre-depression building, whether it be the colorful Guardian Building (in my opinion the best art deco skyscraper in the wolrd), or the soon to be restored Detroit Life Building. The fine works of art contained within the city display the workmanship no longer seen today. Architects such as Albert Kahn, Gordon W. Lloyd, Louis Kamper, Daniel Burnham, Wirt Rowland, Charles Crane, and firms like Donaldson & Meier, Smith Hichman & Grylls mark a distinct mark on the city that lasts today.

While most of our pre-depression buildings are unaltered, a good amount have had their conice removed, not to modernize the building for the future, but because of strict regulations placed on any cornice in 1958. This is all because the lack of maintenance given to them because owners simply did not care for something that they considered gaudy and out of style. Soon enough the cornice from the Ferguson Building killed an older woman shopping in 1985, and the regulations went into place. Despite this, many of the buildings still take the eye of the viewer in different ways.New York Style

Along with pre-depression skyscrapers, downtown Detroit has the most theater seats in the Midwest, outside New York. This is due to the nearly half-dozen vintage theaters that exist downtown that host events. All of them are historical, and half of these are movie palaces, which were designed by C. Howard Crane.

So with this, I present to you our gift to you, our pre-depression stock of architecture. Just please don’t tear them down for any urban renewal or parking lots now, we already have enough parking!

You better hope you can get Preservation Wayne to hop onto this gift, as you can’t get a better tour or our architecture from anywhere else.

Detroit’s Second Gift to the World: The Detroit Underground Railroad

Detroit was the last stop to freedom for many slaves between the years 1820 and 1865. The Underground Railroad was a secret organization of anti-slavery supporters who housed slaves across the United States in churches, businesses, and homes. It is estimated that 200 such locations existed in Detroit alone. As Michigan borders Canada, many slaves traveled from the south, through Michigan, to aggregate in Detroit for the final boat ride to freedom across the border. The bravery and vision of the abolitionists of Detroit was a gift to the world in the battle for race equality in North America and is currently a reminder in the continuing battle for racial equality worldwide. Today the Detroit Underground Railroad Monument can be seen along the Detroit Riverwalk at Hart Plaza.

Tags: Metblogs7Gifts 7Gifts Metroblogging7Gifts 7 gifts to the world

Detroit’s First Gift to the World: Eastern Market

For the next seven days, the Metroblogging sites around the globe will be unveiling seven gifts their cities can share with the world – one gift a day for seven days. These gifts can be serious, funny or sarcastic. Kicking things off, Metroblogging Detroit begins with an old Detroit favorite: Eastern Market.


Food-fanatic or not, Detroit’s Eastern Market is a hidden gem – a unique city staple we’re lucky to have.

Located on Russell Street near Gratiot, Eastern Market’s vendors and shops offer nutritious, inexpensive selections, plus tasty meats and cheeses, homemade breads, wine, beer, flowers, antiques and so much more.

Sure, other cities have markets – DC even has its own Eastern Market – but how many have been around since 1841?

Detroit Metroblogging: 7 Gifts to the World

Starting today, many Metroblogging sites around the world are unveiling seven gifts their cities can share with the world. Participating cities – London, Berlin, NYC, Los Angeles, Karachi, Montreal, Vancouver, Islamabad and, of course, Detroit – will each post a gift a day from their city for seven straight days.

Each city has its own “gift list” and Detroit’s will be published on this site. If you’d like to see what other cities are offering up to the world, check out this post on L.A.’s site – it’s got a running total of them all.

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