Useful Notes: Detroit

"Apparently, Detroit's the only place on Earth where a car accident can wind up giving you chlamydia."
SFDebris, "Carpenter Street" (ENT)

Detroit, Michigan is the center of America's automotive industry. Ford, General Motors and Chrysler have headquarters therenote  and it is known as the "Motor City" for this reason. Its most recognizable structure is the Renaissance Center.

It is geographically notable for a few reasons. Despite being separated from Windsor, Ontario by the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair, it features the busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing — the Ambassador Bridge. It is also the only place in the contiguous 48 States where Canada is south of the U.S., since Windsor juts out to the west just so. Detroit itself is surrounded by smaller independent municipalities, who form the Detroit Metro area, and whose people get kind of cheesed off when everyone just lumps them in. With both a Spanish Univision station in Detroit and (until it was shut down in 2012) a CBC tower in Windsor rebroadcasting the main Francophone feed from Montréal, it was for many years the only area in North America where you can watch free-to-air TV in three languages.note 

The Metro Detroit area is home to a myriad of cultures and ethnicities, including one of the largest Arab populations in North America, centered in Dearborn (with a sizable Lebanese outpost in West Bloomfield — where they get along rather interestingly with the large Jewish population). It is also very economically and racially-segregated, with poorer minorities living in the city, the white working-class in the eastern suburbs, and the predominantly white and Asian American upper-middle-class in the western suburbs and Grosse Pointe. The Metro Detroit area is one of the most racially segregated in the nation.

Detroit is also known as "Hockeytown" due to the Detroit Red Wings being a perennial Stanley Cup contender. Other, less flattering nicknames include "Murder City" and variations on such, as Detroit has one of the least-flattering public images of any major city in the country. The decline of the American auto industry in The Seventies, combined with simmering racial, economic, and labor tensions that we won't get into here, have made it the poster child for (and butt of many jokes about) urban decay and inner-city squalor for much of America. For decades now, mentions of Detroit in media and pop culture have typically referred to it as a Place Worse Than Death, and the crumbling ruins of some of its more destitute neighborhoods have honestly been described as looking post-apocalyptic. This tends to seriously annoy actual Detroiters, who feel that the city's bad reputation is making it harder to revitalize. They also feel that many of the jokes are tired and clichéd. The city filed for bankruptcy in 2013, becoming the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history.

Films set in Detroit or its nearby communities:

TV shows set in Detroit:

Musical acts from Detroit:

Professional Wrestlers from Detroit:

Celebrities from Detroit:
  • Nerds Are Sexy poster girl Judy Greer (Livonia)
  • Bruce Campbell (Royal Oak; attended school with...)
  • Sam Raimi (Royal Oak)
  • Tim Allen (Birmingham)
  • Man of a Thousand Voices Rob Paulsen (Livonia)
  • S. Epatha Merkerson, a.k.a. Lt. Anita Van Buren
  • Frequent death threat recipient Michael Moore isn't from Detroit. He's from Davison, a suburb of Flint, which is 66 miles from Detroit. It's only a part of the Motor City if you inflate Metro Detroit or use "Detroit" as a metonym for the auto industry. To his credit, Moore never claimed to be from Detroit; he claimed to be from Flint. Considering that hardly anyone knows about Flint, you can sort of give him a pass. Sort of.
  • Kristen Bell (Huntington Woods)
  • Lily Tomlin
  • David Alan Grier
  • "Dr. Death", Jack Kevorkian, famously portrayed by Al Pacino in HBO's You Don't Know Jack.
  • Mitch Albom, sportswriter for the Detroit Free Press who moonlights as an author, most notably Tuesdays with Morrie.
  • Robin Williams spent about half his youth in Bloomfield Hills (his dad was an exec at Ford) and half in New-Age Retro Hippie country, Marin County, California.
  • Gilda Radner
  • Butch Hartman (Highland Park)
  • Jim Benton, creator of It's Happy Bunny (Bloomfield Township)
  • He may not sound like it, but James Lipton, host of Inside the Actors Studio was born and raised in Detroit.
  • Tom Hulce (Plymouth). Famous for playing Pinto, Mozart, and Quasimodo.
  • Mitt Romney was born in Detroit and raised in Bloomfield Hills. His father, George Romney, was president of the American Motors Corporation note ; the elder Romney was also a Republican Governor of Michigan in The Sixties (and was a vocal supporter of the Civil Rights Movement and of equality for blacks within the LDS Church) and a candidate for President in 1968 (he was defeated in the primary by Richard Nixon. One wonders how things might have been different).
  • Grant Achatz, a Molecular Gastronomist chef (currently based out of Chicago) who got his start in cooking with his family's chain of kosher pie restaurants in Oakland County.
  • Mary Lynn Rajskub (raised in Trenton).

Alternative Title(s):

The Motor City