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What are the MUST SEES in Detoit?


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My Partner and I will be spending Thanksgiving weekend in Detroit to check out the old structures. ( you should have heard what our friends said when we told them... DETROIT? )

Anyway, We will have 5 days there and of course we will be seeing the Ford estates and River Rough Plant, but we also want to see some of the old stuff.

I am a huge fan of old existing infrastructure and am most interested in bridges, tunnels and old Rail Road depots.

My question is... What items should be at the top of our lists for abandon or existing buildings that would be most exciting. I am also wondering if there are any railroad or Trolley museums?

We will be making our own schedule and if anyone has free time to show us thier favorite spots, we would be happy to meet up. You may email me at [email protected] or post here.

Thanks in advance..I think I am really going to enjoy the Urbanplanet website


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You should check out the ambassador bridge and the Detroit-Windsor tunnel.

And, maybe you could check out the old abandoned Michigan Central Station. One of the other forumers could give you more info on that, as i dont know much about it.

Welcome To Urban Planet!

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As far as buildings you'll want to "explore" there is the Renaissance Center. You'll find GM World (which is a quasi-museum of new and old cars made by GM.) There is also the Guardian Building which has one of the most beautiful lobbies. It is often called the Cathedral of Finance. The Fisher Building (in the New Center area) is one of the greatest examples of 1920's Art Deco architecture. One of the newer buildings is the Compuware Building and while it doesn't have the same architectual flair that it's 1920's brethren have it does have an interesting lobby. (It's also home to Detroit's Hard Rock Cafe) There are tons of other buildings (David Stott Building, Broderick Tower, Book Tower, Cadillac Tower, etc.) in the downtown area and one quick way to see everything is by taking a ride on the elevated People Mover. It's one of the cheapest tours you'll find and it will help orient you to the downtown area.

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Can someone post info on the observation deck in the RenCen. Does it open around 5 or something? I've never been up there.

You should definitely check out the train station though if those are what interest you, considering Michigan Central Station is so massive. What motives you have for "exploring" this structure is up to you though. LOL

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No, dress is just casual. I've always just gone up in my street clothes. You have to stay on the upper level though (the bar). Hours to go up to the observation by yourself start at 5pm when the restaurant opens. Otherwise the Ren Cen tour probably has its own schedule to go up. Case in point, there is no restrictions to go to the 73rd floor of the Ren Cen, unless the hostess at the elevator gives a reason, which isn't likely.

I'll save my breath by just agreeing with what everyone else has already said. Don't be afraid to go right up to the train station. People love getting out of their cars and gape at the huge structure. If you're there around lunch or dinner, you HAVE to make plans to have BBQ at SLOWS BBQ. It's in the shadow of the Michigan Central Station on Michigan Avenue at 14th street.


Other great dining places that I recommend are:

The Detroit Beer Company - Broadway Street

Small Plates - Broadway Street

Detroit Breakfast House - Merchants Row, Woodward Ave.

Greektown - any

Los Galanes - Bagley Street, Mexicantown

Andiamo - Riverfront, Renaissance Center Wintergarden

Seldom Blues - Renaissance Center

Roma Cafe - Riopelle Street, near Eastern Market

(among many others)

Also, since you mentioned that you liked trains, there's another little piece of American Heritage nearby that not many know about...the HQ for Lionel Trains. It's in Chesterfield, about 25 miles northeast of Detroit on I-94. Try this link:


A great little self tour of the industrial core can be seen by driving Miller Street near the Ford Rouge Complex. It's arguably best seen at night. And also, the Dix Avenue Drawbridge over the Rouge River is a little sentimental patch of history that kinda defines the beginnings of Ford Motor Company. From Dix, if you go east to Jefferson Avenue and the river, you can get a glimpse of Zug Island, which is 250% heavy industrial.

To restate, the building lobbies that you cannot miss are (in order):

The Guardian Building - pick up your Detroit T-shirt or cap here at Pure Detroit (www.puredetroit.com) or at the main store in

The Fisher Building

Penobscot Building

Renaissance Center


Skate at Campus Martius Park in the heart of the new city. The park also offers architectural observations of Detroit's most beautiful skyscrapers.

Take at least one loop on The People Mover. One trip is only 50 cents and you get a good bird's eye tour of the crazy layout of downtown Detroit.

Self-tour Brush Park...the neighborhood directly behind (north) of Comerica Park. It's Detroit's most gentrifying neighborhood. You can still see rotted buildings, rotted buildings with some progress made, and once-rotted buildings recently restored...and also new construction. It tells an amazing story.

If you want to see "1980s" Detroit and still be safe while doing it, just cross Woodward Avenue going west from Brush Park. Go past the two abandoned buildings (Harborlight Center and Hotel Eddystone) untill you get to Cass Avenue and Cass Park. This is the area around the Masonic Temple Theater. It looks rough and threatening, but it's not that bad (in terms of safety). The neighborhood is just abandoned.

Again, I encourage the Cultural Center museums and galleries. This is the area around Wayne State University in Midtown. Woodward and Warren are the main cross streets (about 2 miles inland from downtown).

Finally, where will you be coming from? Let me know which days you will be in town, and maybe I can try to fit in a little tour. Many of Detroit's wealthiest neighborhoods are only reached by car and they are pretty impressive and more abundant than many would like to think.

Happy trails! :)

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