1. Apocalypse National Champions
Many people already assume that the first round of modern apocalyptic warfare has already happened, and Detroit was its ground zero. Much like the mutants who’ve been made stronger by the radiation, modern Detroiters are viewed as somehow being a new breed simply because they call the Detroit area home. If you’re new to the area, congratulations… you’re a survivor.
2. From Point A, Back to Point A in Five Minutes
The Detroit People Mover is big, futuristic version of the model train that used to chug around your Christmas tree when you were a kid. Seriously, it services 13 stops while running along a three-mile track and gets you right back where you started from in no time. People can debate its practicality all they want, considering the walk between the furthest points is only 15 minutes, but from a strictly decorative standpoint, it’s pretty cool.
3. I’m Ready for My Closeup
The ruins of Detroit may be depressing, but they’re also bankable. The exterior of Michigan Central Station has been a required establishing shot for just about every film production set in Detroit, including “Four Brothers”, “Low Winter Sun”, and “Detroit 1-8-7”. Its interior was also used during the climactic scene of the movie “Transformers”.
4. Slows Bar B Q Has Better Carolina Barbecue Than Carolina
I would say that Slows Bar B Q, which is on Michigan Avenue directly across from Michigan Central Station, has the best Carolina barbecue outside of the Carolinas, but I have it on good authority (from an 80-something, longtime North Carolina resident) that Slows actually “perfected Carolina barbecue.” Please take her word for it, because I’m not brave enough to make such an audacious claim all on my own.
5. Vince McMahon Loves Us
Detroit is Vince McMahon’s go-to city when he needs to pack an arena to demonstrate the popularity of his World Wrestling Entertainment brand. In 1987, more than 93,000 Metro Detroit fans packed the Pontiac Silverdome to watch Hulk Hogan battle Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania 3. Twenty years later, more than 80,000 squeezed into Ford Field for Wrestlemania 23.
Smart money says the McMahon’s find their way back to Detroit for Wrestlemania 33 in 2017. I just hope by then they spare us from watching another main event that has John Cena in it… like the last nine Wrestlemanias in a row.
6. Cobo Center Is The Original House of Hardcore
Detroit has as much claim to the title of hardcore wrestling capital as any other city. Hardcore wrestling icons the Sheik and Bruiser Brody grew up in Detroit, and the Sheik’s “Big Time Wrestling” promotion put Cobo Hall on the map and competed with Dick The Bruiser’s Olympia Stadium show for a decade. Plus, Abdullah the Butcher grew up just across the river in Windsor.
7. We’re Sports Super Villains
While teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Yankees have huge fan followings that aren’t native to those cities, no one outside of Detroit (excluding the Detroit diaspora) is happy when Detroit’s sports teams win. Now this may be compounded by the fact that Detroit’s recent championship teams have been popularly viewed as dirty (the 1989-1990 Pistons), Russian (the 1997-1998 Red Wings), purchased (the 2002 Red Wings), unsexy (the 2004 Pistons), or Swedish (the 2008 Red Wings).
8. We’re the Home of Black Superheroes
With 82 percent of its population self reporting as black or African American during the last census, Detroit has the blackest population in the country by percentage for any city with more than 100,000 residents. Maybe that’s the reason Detroit is one of DC Comics’ favorite cities for telling black superhero origin stories, like those of Amazing-Man, Green Lantern (John Stewart) and Firestorm (Jason Rusch). And those who aren’t born here end up living here anyway; the television series of Marvel Comics’ famous vampire hunter, Blade, was set in the Motor City.
9. Take a Class in Arabic
Following a series of waves of immigration, the city of Dearborn—just outside of Detroit—has 40,000 Arab Americans, giving it the largest proportion of Arab Americans in any city in the United States. Further, it also has the largest population of Lebanese Americans in the country. Seriously, while most schools push Spanish, French, and now Chinese as valuable languages to learn, Arabic language classes will give you the best opportunity to learn and regularly practice a new language while living here.
10. Ginger for What Ales You
The oldest surviving ginger ale brand in the United States belongs to Vernors. The original story that James Vernor stored his recipe of 19 ingredients in a barrel for four years while he went off to serve in the Civil War was later confirmed to be a lie, but think about it… would you have rushed home to drink soda that had been settling in a barrel for four years?
11. Acceptable Hot Dogs? We’ve Got You Covered
You may have caught “The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart and his recent diatribe against Chicago-style pizza. Lost in the fallout was the fact that Stewart also criticized the Windy City’s traditional choices for hot dog toppings (tomatoes and celery salt). His “three acceptable condiments for a hot dog” were “mustard, onions and stagnant cart water.” With all due respect to Jon, the third acceptable condiment for a hot dog is all-meat chili, and you can find hot dogs featuring these three delicious condiments best represented at the corner of Lafayette Boulevard and Michigan Avenue where American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island have been feuding for decades.
Speaking of which…
12. Hey, Jon… Try OUR Pizza!
Detroit is the birthplace to a unique hybrid of the New York and Chicago pizza styles – a semi deep dish pizza with crispy crust and tomato sauce on top. While Buddy’s Pizza is considered the originator of this regional delicacy, Southeast Michigan is also home to many of the largest mainstream pizza companies in the country, including Little Caesars, Domino’s, and Jet’s.
13. Have a Drink, Eh?
If you make friends with the under-21 crowd, chances are you’re going to get dragged across the bridge to Windsor at some point. That’s because Canada’s legal drinking age of 19 makes Windsor’s bars, clubs, and casino very popular destinations for Michigan’s late teens. Also drawing visitors are the Cuban rum and Cuban cigars that are banned in the United States, but easily consumable after a quick ride across the border. Be careful, though… just because 19-year-olds can legally drink in Windsor doesn’t mean the alcohol in their blood is any less illegal once they make it back to Detroit.
14. Beware of Little Red Men
Since the Detroit Riots of 1967, many white suburbanites have been fearful of traveling across 8 Mile Road and into Detroit. However, accosting white people has apparently been a tradition since 1701, and the culprit was “Nain Rouge.” The legend of Detroit’s red dwarf explains how Detroit’s first white settler, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, lost his fortune shortly after he was attacked by a small childlike creature with “blazing red eyes and rotten teeth.” Nowadays, the Detroit Dwarf is known primarily as a decent tasting lager brewed by the Detroit Beer Company, and also for the Marche du Nain Rouge parade that has sprung up in recent years.
15. City Within a City
Detroit’s famous cluster of five interconnected skyscrapers is the city’s most conspicuous structure and is located right on the waterfront. Heralded as a city within a city, the Renaissance Center is the home to a vast quantity of businesses, shops, restaurants, a post office, a tailor, a florist, a pharmacy, a fitness center, and movie theater. You could literally work and live in the Renaissance Center without ever having to leave the confines of the structure, and given the general reluctance of many to brave the streets of Detroit, there are probably some that do.
16. Political Parties? Do I Need to Get Dressed Up for Those?
Louis Miriani, the last Republican mayor of Detroit, was defeated by Jerome Cavanagh in 1961. Since then, Detroit’s public offices have been filled with Democrats to such an extent that the Republican party essentially packed up and abandoned all hope of winning elections in the city. Even if you’re a diehard Democrat, that may not be such a good thing. When there’s no one on the other side to call you out, can we really be surprised if you use the power of your public office to enrich yourself?
17. Why Is Woodward So Crowded All of a Sudden?
Our major summer event that sprang up out of nowhere, the Woodward Dream Cruise attracts 1.5 million car enthusiasts and more than 40,000 classic cars to Detroit each year. Not bad for an event that gave a high-end attendance estimate of 40,000 for its first year; Woodward Ave was left in perpetual gridlock when 250,000 showed up.
18. The Ultimate Motorsports Trophy Is Awarded Here
Forget the Indianapolis 500. Even before the members of Detroit’s infamous Purple Gang smuggled alcohol across the border during the 1920s, the Detroit River played host to the Gold Cup hydroplane boat race. The Gold Cup is the oldest active trophy in all of motorsports.
19. Don’t Say “Soda”
In Detroit, it’s called “pop.” Nothing will out you as an outsider faster than calling it “soda.” Just ask the writers of “Detroit 1-8-7”.
20. Nobody Listens to Techno?
Eminem should have known better than to utter this line on “Without Me”, especially given Detroit’s claim as being the birthplace of techno. Every Memorial Day weekend, the Detroit Electronic Music Festival attracts tens of thousands of techno fans to Detroit.
21. Royce Da 5’9” Is The Best Rapper Alive
Okay, maybe this claim is a little bit of a stretch, but few hip-hop artists have enjoyed as long a period of unbridled lyrical excellence (2004 to present) as Royce Nickel Nine, even if he hasn’t always been able to point to record sales to back his claim.
22. Detroit Perfected Music
Smokey Robinson. Diana Ross. Martha Reeves. The Temptations. The Four Tops. Jackie Wilson. Aretha Franklin. Hank Ballard. Del Shannon. Iggy Pop. Stevie Wonder. Madonna. MC5. Ted Nugent. Aaliyah. Alice Cooper. Bob Seger. Glenn Frey. Eminem. Kid Rock. J Dilla. The White Stripes.
23. A Different Kind of Green City
Some of the Detroit’s best produce is grown in the vacant lots of some of the city’s most dilapidated neighborhoods. Hantz, Earthworks and Brother Nature are some of the farms that are helping Detroiters meet their nutritional needs while simultaneously repurposing the land. And that way, Detroiters’ bodies will run on clean energy even if the majority of their cars don’t.
24. There Is No South Detroit
Unfortunately for diehard Journey fans, South Detroit is as fictional as Neverland. When Steve Perry wrote the song “Don’t Stop Believin’”, he thought “South Detroit” sounded the best and was later disappointed to learn that there was no such thing. Downtown Detroit sits along the Detroit River, and crossing it puts you squarely in Canada. This hasn’t stopped the Detroit Red Wings from playing “Don’t Stop Believin’” after every home victory, though.
25. We Really Are Hockeytown, U.S.A.
You can question the ethics of filing to trademark the term “Hockeytown, USA” all you want, but until the Boston Bruins earn the right to hang at least five more Stanley Cup Championship banners in their rafters, the title is ours.
26. A Greek Tragedy for Your Wallet
New Parthenon Restaurant in Detroit’s Greektown district is one of the best places in the country to enjoy a tasty Mediterranean dining experience, and Greektown Casino is one of the most beautiful places to go to give your money away.
27. Paczki Day!
It’s pronounced poonch-key, and even Detroiters who don’t know the religious significance of Fat Tuesday know they need to get to West Warren Bakery and stuff themselves.
28. Where Potato Chips Go to Die
Detroit ranks first in the nation in potato chip consumption per capita. Because if you’re going to rank first in something, it might as well be potato chip consumption per capita.
29. Pick Up Isiah
The NBA All-Star Game is the highest level pick-up basketball game there is. Michael Jordan can leave Isiah Thomas off of his all-time pick-up basketball team if he wants to, but even Jordan knows that, with the exception of the 1985 NBA All-Star Game, no one made him look better in NBA All-Star Games than Zeke. Check their chemistry NBA All-Star Game top-10 highlights from 1989 and 1990 to see for yourself.
30. Mexican Town Restaurant Is The Best Restaurant in Mexicantown
The Mexican population of Detroit may be relatively small, but that doesn’t mean its influence on the regional flavor profile is lacking. While there are a number of great restaurants in Southwest Detroit, Mexican Town Restaurant edges out Xochimilco as the best.