About Detroit

Site Navigation

Fascinating Facts

Detroiters are proud of their city's rich industrial history and fond of the recognition they receive for living in the world's automotive capital. Nicknamed The Motor City, Detroit gave birth to electronic (techno) music and, of course, the Motown sound. Detroit celebrates its first-class status and lays claim to a number of fabulous firsts. 


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

• 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 home to one of the largest flower-bedding markets in the world – Eastern Market

• is second in the nation in the sale of fishing rods

• is home to one of the tallest hotels in North America – the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center, at 73

• receives freighters from more than 100 world ports on the Detroit River

• has the most registered bowlers in the United States

Detroit was the first city nation to: 

  • Assign individual telephone numbers (1879) 
  • Hold a state fair (the Michigan State Fair was the first held in 1849) 
  • Pave a mile of concrete road (on Woodward Avenue between Six and Seven Mile roads in 1909)
  • Install a traffic light, manually operated by a staff of policemen (1915) 
  • Share an automobile traffic tunnel between two nations (United States and Canada, 1930) 
  • Develop an urban freeway (the Davison in 1942) 
  • Taste an ice cream soda (when a clerk at Sanders confectionery ran out of sweet cream and in desperation used ice cream in 1875. The rest is history!) 
  • Hear the clickety-clack of a typewriter (invented in 1829 by Detroiter Austin Burt)
  • Enjoy morning coffee brewed in an automatic coffeemaker (the Coffee Clock invented by George Schuler)
  • Drink milk from a paperboard carton (by Pur-Pak in 1930)

Additional Fascinating Facts about Detroit

Detroit is the oldest city in the Midwest, and the only one from which one can look south to Canada. 

The Ambassador Bridge, linking Detroit with Windsor (Ontario, Canada) is one of the longest international suspension bridges in the world. 

James Vernor, who owned a Detroit drugstore and was Michigan's first registered pharmacist, developed the world's first carbonated drink in 1866. The Boston Cooler (vanilla ice cream and the ginger-flavored soda) is a classic Detroit taste sensation. The drink apparently was named for the city's Boston Boulevard, not the city in Massachusetts.

Detroit has Henry Ford, the man who put America on wheels, to thank for the advent of snack food. He allowed workers on his assembly line to take short breaks, which led to the trend of workers purchasing small bags of food that could be quickly consumed. 

Cold Duck, the bubbly blend of wine and champagne, was introduced to Detroit at the Pontchartrain Wine Cellars, a former downtown Detroit restaurant. 

The Eastern Market, a major commercial food distribution center famous for the quality, freshness and variety of its produce, meat, fish and even flowers, has been in existence since 1892. 

In 1915, the first Kiwanis Club began in Detroit. 

Detroit's downtown turn-of-the-century trolley cars, complete with old-fashioned, uniformed conductors, operated along Washington Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue.  The vintage trolley cars made their Detroit debut in 1976. The electric-powered cars were built in England, Germany, Portugal and the United States between 1895 and the 1920s.