Historic Sites to Visit in Detroit

December 13th, 2018 by

Detroit is known as the historic hub of the U.S. automobile industry and the home of Motown music, but the city has a much broader, and further reaching history. Here are four of Detroit’s iconic historical sites.

Fort Wayne

The idea of locating a fort on the Detroit River, at the closest point to what was then British Canada, was conceived in 1840. It was a to be a critical part of the defense system along America’s northern border as tensions with the British increased and the threat of war loomed.

The five-point star fort was constructed in the years 1842 to 1851 and named after General Anthony Wayne, who defeated the British at Fallen Timbers in 1796. It was going to house the most modern artillery capable of firing on the Canadian shore.

However, the cannons were never installed as a treaty was signed between the American’s and British bringing a diplomatic end to the disputed territories. Instead, the fort has been used as a garrison and induction center for troops entering American conflicts from the civil war to Vietnam.

Fort Wayne is open weekends from May to October and you can visit the barracks, CO’s house, the Tuskegee Airmen Museum, and a Native American burial mound, among others.

Fox Theatre

Detroit’s Fox Theatre was built in 1928 and was, at the time, the second largest in the world, seating over 5,000 people. It was the flagship movie palace of the Fox chain and was the first to have a built-in “Movietone” sound system for talking movies.

The 10-story exterior houses the stunning lobby which takes up half a block. The elaborate auditorium is 104-feet high and 175-feet wide, and features motifs from Egypt, India, and the Orient. The theater’s stage has been graced by some of the biggest names in music and theatre.

Belle Isle

The Belle Isle Park was conceived in the 1880s to provide a peaceful oasis within the city. The 982-acre island in the Detroit River has around seven miles of coastline and features a lagoon, three lakes, and large areas of forested wetlands. Many of the trees on Belle Isle are quite rare but were once common throughout Michigan. There is a variety of wildlife on the island.

You can enjoy walking, running or cycling the paths around Belle Isle, or hike the forest nature trails. Water sports, fishing piers, playgrounds, and a 9-acre golf practice facility are also available.

David Whitney House

This mansion, designed for lumber baron David Whitney Jr., the wealthiest man in Detroit, took four years to construct and was completed in 1894. The house, which cost around the equivalent of $9.5 million today, is 22,000 square feet. The 52 rooms include 10 bathrooms and 20 fireplaces. The many leaded stained-glass windows were installed by Tiffany’s.

Now, you can have a taste of the opulent lifestyle with cocktails in the Ghostbar, followed by lunch or dinner in one of the grand dining rooms, or by the fountains in the beautiful gardens.


Image by M Canzi is licensed under CC-BY 2.0