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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 Detroitnote  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 Downriver areanote  next door to the city to the southwest, and the predominantly white, Indian American, and Asian American upper-middle-class in the northwestern suburbs/exurbs and the Grosse Pointesnote  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.

The two primary sides; the East Side and the West Side; are divided by Woodward Avenue, a major thoroughfare designated as Michigan state highway M-1, although there are several lesser-known sides within these two larger sides.

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    Downtown and Midtown 
Downtown Detroit: The central hub of the city, serving as both a business district and a residential district. Many of Detroit's prominent skyscrapers are located in this area.

Midtown Detroit: Located across Interstate 75note  from downtown, Midtown covers about two square miles of the city, and features a collection of hospitals named the Detroit Medical Center.

Some of the more notable subdistricts include:

  • Art Center: Located at the northernmost end of midtown; it features several notable museums, most notably the Detroit Institute of Arts; the main branch of the Detroit Public Library, the main campus of Wayne State University, and historic Victorian homes on Ferry Avenue.
  • Brush Park: An area east of Woodward and on the other side of I-75 that is home to numerous Victorian style residences that were originally built for Detroit's wealthiest. During the 20th century, the neighborhood fell on hard times, and many of these homes were left behind to deteroiate, with a decent number being damaged beyond repair and subsequently demolished. Since relatively late in The '90s, however, many of the remaining homes have been grandfully restored, and new developments have been constructed on many once-vacant lots, including the only Whole Foods Market grocery store to ever be opened within Detroit city limits.
  • Cass Corridor: Covers blocks on both sides of Cass Avenue north of I-75, originally one of Detroit's most wealthiest districts up until the mid-20th Century, it has received an incredible appearance makeover, played in large part by Wayne State. Basketball's Pistons and hockey's Red Wings both play at Little Caesars Arena. Built in 2017, it serves as the anchor of the neighborhood's southern end.
  • Campus Martius Park: For many years a messy convergence of wide roads that was very pedestiran unfriendly, anchored by the 1001 Woodward Avenue skyscraper, starting at the Turn of the Millennium, it was replaced with a traffic circle featuring parks and monuments, emerging as downtown's main gathering spot.
  • Capitol Park: When Michigan attained statehood in 1837, the first state capitol buildingnote  was located within this park. That building has been long demolished, but the park itself continues to thrive, especially as the surrounding blocks have seen gentrification during The New '10s, particularly after the Detroit Department of Transportationnote  relocated its downtown hub away from the park to another downtown location in 2009.
  • Financial District: Detroit's historic financial district, dating back to the 1850s, several ornate skyscrapers can be found in this district, including the Guardian Building, the Penobscot Building, and One Woodward Avenue.
  • Grand Circus Park: A half-circular park bisected by Woodward Avenue, several notable skyscrapers surround it, the Detroit Opera House anchors the east half, and Comerica Park, the home stadium of baseball's Tigers, is located at the park's northeast corner.
  • Greektown: Established by Greek-Americansnote , the neighborhood, centered on Monroe Street, nowadays is more well known for its bustling Greek restaurants and the Greektown Casino Hotel, one of the city's three casino resorts.
  • Sugar Hill: Contains Forest Avenue, and Garfield and Canfield streets between Woodward Avenue and John R. Street, the main draws being an art gallery and luxurious lofts and offices.
    New Center and the North End 
New Center: Located next door to the northern edge of midtown, this commercial and residential district is centered on the intersection of Woodward Avenue and Grand Boulevard and anchored by the Cadillac Placenote  and Fisher Building skyscrapers.

Some of the more notable subdistricts include:

  • Boston-Edison: A historic neighborhood centered on Chicago Boulevard and Boston Boulevard between Woodward Avenue and Linwood Street containing large mansions which have been home to such notable residents as Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford, S.S. Kresge and Kmart founder Sebastian S. Kresge, and former Detroit mayor James Couzens.
  • Chaldean Town: This neighborhood, located along 7 Mile Road immediately east of Woodward Avenue, became a Chaldean Christian enclave in The '60s, and to this date continues to attract newcomer immigrants to Detroit, who then move on to the northern suburbs while retaining ownership of the neighborhood's businesses.
  • Hamtramck and Highland Park: A pair of separately-incorporated cities that do share a border with each other for about a quarter-mile,note  but are otherwise completely surrounded by Detroit. Hamtramck is noticeably more densely-spaced and was the metro area's Polish enclave for generations,note  although numerous Arabic and Asian immigrants have also begun moving into the area. Highland Park, historically a blue-collar community, nowadays has a similar reputation as Detroit.
  • Milwaukee Junction: The location of junctions and crossings between a number of railroad mainlines, numerous large industrial buildings were constructed in the surrounding neighborhood starting in the 1890s, including Cadillac's original assembly plant, Fisher Body Plant 21, Fisher Body Plant 23, the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, and assembly plants for Studebaker, Dodge, and Regal Motor Car.
  • Palmer Park: A large park located along the west side of Woodward south of 7 Mile, with a neighborhood comprising apartment buildings abuttng the park's southern edge.
  • Palmer Woods: An upper-class neighborhood north of Palmer Park, known for its large elm trees and large brick and Tudor homes on large lots.
  • Sherwood Forest: Located between Palmer Woods and Livernois Avenue, the neighborhood was established in 1917 and is similar in character to Palmer Woods.
    East Side 
  • Belle Isle: A city park-turned-state park that comprises an entire Detroit River achipelago. Tourist attractions include the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, and the Belle Isle Aquairum. Every Memorial Day weekend, it also hosts the Detroit Grand Prix race.
  • East English Village and Morningside: These two neighboring upper-class neighborhoods share a border with Grosse Pointe, and feature wide streets lined with brick and tudor homes of various sizes, predominantly large and luxurious, which seems natural given its location.
  • Eastern Market: The largest historic public market district in the United States, it is home to public market sheds, numerous food wholesaling and processing businesses, and fine restaurants. Unfortunately, the district was basically cut in half when the Fisher Freeway Connector to Gratiot Avenue was built in the 1960s.
  • Indian Village: Established early in the 20th century, its famous homes were originally built for some of Detroit's most prominent citizens.
  • Lafayette Park: An urban renewal project constructed on the site of the African American enclave of Black Bottom, featuring large parks and apartment buildings of varying heights, from low-rise apartments to apartment towers.
  • Noham or Banglatown: Named for its location just north of the City of Hamtramck, this neighborhood began gaining Bangladeshi-American residents at the Turn of the Millennium, with artists beginning to join them by 2015.
  • Poletown: A Polish-American neighborhood sandwiched between Eastern Market and Hamtramck, a large portion of it was controversially completely demolished in 1981 for a General Motors assembly plant. The remnants of the neighborhood are now generally termed Poletown East.
  • Rivertown: Located along the Detroit River just east of downtown, it experienced a decline throughout the 20th century before resurging in The '90s, and is now home to new residential developments, including Harbortown, an upscale high-rise apartment complex that also features a marina.
    West Side 
  • Brightmoor: A neighborhood that was settled in 1922 by workers from Appalachia, who were drawn to the city's automotive manufacturing plants. Once The '80s rolled around, however, residents began leaving the neighborhood in droves, and crime became the main driving force in the population decline as homes and businesses became abandoned. Fortunately, by The New '10s, non-profit organizations have begun the process of restoring Brightmoor's formerly prestige image.
  • Corktown: Detroit's original Irish neighborhood, which dates back to the 1850s, it is still primarily residential, despite being right across the Lodge Freeway from downtown. It was cut in half in The '60s by the construction of I-75, with the northern half becoming North Corktown, and the southernmost portion similarly was demolished and reveloped into an industrial development known as West Side Industrial. Baseball's Tigers called this neighborhood home from 1912 to 1999 before their relocation to downtown.
  • Grandmont and Rosedale Park: Two adjacent neighborhoods centered around the six-way intersection of Grand River and Fenkell avenues and the Southfield Freeway (M-39) that began development in the 1910s-20s on land deeded by former U.S. president Andrew Jackson in 1835 and feature large homes in a multitude of architectural styles with street names adopting an English country theme.
  • Old Redford: Formerly part of Redford Township, it was annexed into Detroit in 1926. It features a small business district anchored by the Redford Theatre, an indoor movie theater that specalizes in screenings of the sort of films that you can typically see on Turner Classic Movies; and decent residential streets.
  • Parkland and Warrendale: Two neighborhoods that are located on the far western side of the city and each share a border with the cities of Dearborn and Dearborn Heights.
  • University District: Anchored by the University of Detroit Mercy, the city's other main university, it's a middle-class district which features a variety of architectural styles on tree-lined streets.
  • Woodbridge: Located across the John C. Lodge Freeway, M-10, from Wayne State's main campus, the neighborhood was originally developed starting in 1870 with many upper-class houses, and is seeing rapid redevelopment thanks to its close proximity to Wayne State.
    Southwest Side 
  • Boynton and Oakwood Heights: Two adjacent neighborhoods southwest of Delray and Springwells that both make up the southernmost section of the City of Detroit, they became infamously notorious for severe pollution originating from local industrial complexes, to the point that the 48217 ZIP Code, which is shared by these neighborhoods, is frequently ranked as Michigan's most polluted ZIP Code.
  • Delray: Originally a Hungarian neighborhood, it fell on hard times in The '70s and has never recovered since. The fact that numerous industrial buildings are in the area (including the Ford River Rouge Complex and Zug Island) and that a decent chunk of the neighborhood was recently wiped out to make room for a second bridge to Canada doesn't help matters much.
  • Hubbard Farms: Located across I-75 from the American customs plaza for the Ambassador bridge, this neighborhood features architectural styles spanning the late 19th and early 20th centuries along its residential streets, and is also home to Clark Park.
  • Mexicantown and Springwells: Two neighborhoods that span along Vernor Highway from Corktown to the border with the City of Dearborn, about half of their residents are Mexican-American. Mexican restaurants and bakeries are abundant here, and it has seen some gentrification since The '90s.

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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