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Useful Notes / Detroit

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"When you hurt, we hurt
Your streets witness our struggle
Your bricks show are our rage through the emptiness of each house shuttered, of each factory closed
We've lived through the ups and the downs
But we remain, Detroit
We can never turn our backs on you Detroit, because we are you"
Eminem, "Letter to Detroit"

The Motor City. Motown. The D. Hockeytown. The Arsenal of Democracy. The Paris of the Midwest.

Although much diminished from its 1920s-60s heyday, Detroit remains the largest city in the State of Michigan and the focal point of the Great Lakes State's main population center (with a metropolitan population of 4.3 million, or slightly less than half the total state population of 9.9 million) and economic engine.

The Detroit area is the center of America's automotive industry. Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler have headquarters there and it is known as the "Motor City" for this very reason.note  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.note  Detroit itself is surrounded by smaller independent municipalities, which form the Metro Detroit area. 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 could watch free-to-air TV in three languages.note 


The Metro Detroit area is home to a myriad 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 - and the world's biggest Iraqi Catholic population outside Iraq, centered in the northeast exurbs of Utica and Shelby Township, where they get along rather interestingly with the existing predominance of Albanians and Macedonians). 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, Indian American, and Asian American upper-middle-class in the northwestern suburbs/exurbs and the Pointes just east of the city proper. 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 1970s, combined with simmering racial, economic, and labor tensions, have made it the poster child for, and butt of many jokes about, urban decay and inner-city squalor for much of America. Detroit has lost 60% of its peak population since 1950 (from 1.8 million to less than 700,000). For decades, mentions of Detroit in the national 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 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, clichéd, and lazy. The city filed for bankruptcy in 2013, becoming the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history. Since the bankruptcy, the city's finances are much more stable, and there are a number of projects for growth across the city (especially in Downtown and Midtown). That being said, city redevelopment can be a slow process, as the experiences of many other cities in the U.S. can tell.

Films set in Detroit or its nearby communities:

  • 8 Mile
  • Beverly Hills Cop (the film and its two sequels are set in Detroit before shifting to Beverly Hills)
  • Beverly Hills Cop II
  • Beverly Hills Cop III
  • Brick Mansions (the English remake of Banlieue 13)
  • Collision Course
  • The Crow
  • Detroit takes place during the infamous 1967 12th Street riot, specifically focusing on the Algiers Hotel Incident where three black teenagers were beaten and killed by Detroit police under suspicious circumstances.
  • Detroit Rock City
  • Don't Breathe
  • Dreamgirls (following the famous Motown music label and genre; the play is based in Chicago, but the movie places it in Detroit to make it closer to its inspiration).
  • Four Brothers
  • Gran Torino (Highland Park)
  • Grosse Pointe Blank (Grosse Pointe)
  • It Follows: the protagonists live in the well-to-do suburbs, and venture into the decrepit inner city for a number of scenes. Yara remarks about the racial and economic divide, reminiscing on how, when she was younger, her parents wouldn't let her travel south of 8 Mile Road, even to go to the state fair. The large body of water seen several times in the movie is not the ocean, but Lake Erie.
  • Max Keeble's Big Move (Robe briefly referred to it, although he mixed it up with Chicago).
  • Only Lovers Left Alive: one of the vampire characters lives here, both for its music scene and because its relative desolation allows him to be left alone.
  • Out of Sight (based on the novel by beloved Detroit resident Elmore Leonard)
  • RoboCop
  • Sparkle (the remake takes place in Detroit of the 1960s)
  • The Upside of Anger (Bloomfield Hills)
  • The Virgin Suicides is also set in Grosse Pointe. Jeffrey Eugenides' Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Middlesex is also set in Detroit.
  • White Boy Rick

TV shows set in Detroit:

Video games set in Detroit:

Musical acts from Detroit:

Professional Wrestlers from Detroit:

Celebrities from Detroit:


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