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Detroit Attractions and Things to See

Detroit is the biggest city in Michigan, a major port city on the Detroit River in the Midwest, founded in 1701 by the Frenchman, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, and had been known as the world's traditional automotive center, a metonym for the American automobile industry and a wonderful source for popular music legacies that celebrate the city's two familiar nicknames, "Motown" and the "Motor City". Other nicknames that it would enjoy during the 20th century include, the "City of Champions" for its 1930s successes of team and individual sports, "the Arsenal of Democracy" during WWII, "Rock City" after the Kiss song called Detroit Rock City, "the 3-1-3" because of its telephone area code, "the D, D-town" and "Hockeytown" a trademark that was owned by the city's NHL club, the Red Wings.

It has a long and interesting history, that would begin in 1701 when Cadillac and 51 other French-Canadians would found a settlement called Fort Ponchartrain du Detroit, offering free land to bring families to the region that would grow to 800 in 1765 and become the biggest city between New Orleans and Montreal. Before the start of the Civil War, it would become very significant because of its easy access to the Canadian border that would make it an important stopover for the underground railroad, when a young lieutenant named US Grant would be stationed in the city, with his former home still in the Michigan State Fairgrounds. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a good amount of gilded age mansions and structures were built, and it would soon become known as the Paris of the West for its architecture and Washington Boulevard that had just been illuminated by Thomas Edison. Since it was next to the Great Lakes, it would grow into a transportation center and in 1903, Henry Ford would found the Ford Motor Company, that would attract other venture groups like automotive pioneers, William C. Durant, Walter Chrysler, Packard and the Dodge brothers, and inspire truck manufacturers like Grabowsky and Rapid. The 1980s would bring the Republican National Convention that would nominate Ronald Reagan, and we won't hold that against them, but they did react very poorly when the oil embargo of 1973 and 1979 cause the American auto industry to change its ways, which they failed to do and now they, as well as the rest of America can see the results. In the 1990s, it would enjoy some revival in the downtown area, Midtown and New Center areas, with three casinos opening in the 2007-2008 years to attract more tourists and gamblers to the area in hopes of reviving it. Today, the city's waterfront is enjoying a large redevelopment after the example seen in Windsor, Canada, and in 2007, the first parts of River Walk were opened, with miles of parks and fountains, causing this new urban development to try enhancing the city's economy through tourism.

The city's waterfront is showcased in a variety of architectural styles that include post-modern neogothic spires, art deco skyscrapers, the Renaissance Center, and many others, like the Fox theater, Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Opera House. There are numerous neighborhoods listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the city contains one of the biggest surviving collections of late 19th and early 20th centuries structures, along with a number of architecturally important cathedrals and churches.  Detroit's downtown area is becoming quite popular with young professionals and its retail areas are being enlarged, with numerous high rises being built under the nickname, Motown. It still has one of the finest music scenes in the country, with many outstanding theaters, opera houses, Broadway productions and studios planned that includes the Motown Motion Picture Studios sitting on 600,000 square feet of space and produce movies in the old motor city.  It has numerous prominent museums situated in the historic cultural center that include the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Public Library, the Detroit Science Center, the Motown Historical museum, the Dossin Great Lakes museum, Fort Wayne, the Tuskegee Airmen Museum, the Pewabic Pottery studio and school, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, the Belle Isle Conservatory and many more. It is also one of the 13 American metro areas that have professional teams in all four major sports, as well as numerous excellent college teams. Sailboat racing is another favorite here, and has become a major sport with Lake Saint Claire being home to many yacht clubs.