Trip style: Local Life & Culture, History & Heritage
Language Tour: English
Get the local lowdown on a city that’s seen its fair share of drama in recent years on this historical Detroit tour that takes you through the city’s crazy past. Begin your Detroit tour at a cafe on Broadway, where you’ll meet your local guide and head out onto the streets.
From the minute you leave the meeting point you’ll start seeing some famous Detroit landmarks, such as the 95-year old Detroit Athletic Club, the renovated Opera House, the vacant Wurlitzer Building, and the fine new downtown YMCA. Your local guide will be telling you all you need to know about these spots, and what they mean to the city of Detroit. Continuing on your tour in Detroit, see the site where one of the biggest department stores in the US once stood. When it closed in the 1980s, it left a hole in the city that hasn’t been filled. There are not many stores in the old retail district, but apartments and lofts have brought some new life to the area.
Next on this Detroit city tour, the Compuware Building from 2002 is worth a visit, for its 15-story atrium and colorful fountain. Outside that building you’ll see a panorama that includes landmarks like the 47-story Penobscot Building from 1928, the Guardian Building from 1929, and the Renaissance Center from 1977, which is home to the tallest hotel in the entire Western Hemisphere (72 floors!) as well as the headquarters of General Motors.
Then you’ll see Campus Martius Park in the heart of downtown, which opened in 2004 and features an ice-skating rink in winter and activities year-round. It recently won an award as the nation’s most transformative urban park, and is a fine example of how Detroit is making a serious comeback. A visit to the Guardian Building gives you a picture of the greatness of Detroit in the late 1920s. The lobby and banking room of this art-deco skyscraper are truly incredible. We’ll take a stop here, and then we take a ride on the elevated People Mover, which has been moving people around downtown Detroit since 1987.
From the Michigan Avenue Station, see the $800 Million MGM Grand Casino and hotel that were completed in 2008, and the new Rosa Parks Transit Center (named for “the mother of the Civil Rights Movement”) with its dramatic canopies. If the weather is nice, we’ll walk to a nearby hotel that’s a great example of Detroit’s rise, fall and renewal. When it opened in 1924 it was the tallest hotel in the world and one of the fanciest, but it closed in the 1980s and stood vacant for more than 25 years on a prominent street corner. Detroiters were thrilled when it reopened after a $200 million renovation as the wonderful, a proud moment in Detroit’s history! A block down from here is one of the world’s tallest vacant buildings at 36-storeys high. Your leader will tell you stories of its past and how it awaits a new life. Next, we visit the area near Grand Circus Park, which is full of examples of Detroit’s rocky history.
Here we’ll find even more vacant buildings as well as legendary parks and music venues that have hosted the like of Bruce Spingsteen and Detroit’s own Eminem. This gives us many more opportunities for your guide to let you in on all the local secrets behind them. It’s one thing simply seeing these buildings, but to get to know the history behind them makes the experience even more special, especially when it comes from the mouth of a local!
Our last stop will be at a local brewpub, where you can sip on a local beer or soft drink and continue to chat about Detroit with your local guide. The first drink’s on us!
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