DETROIT — Detroit is a special city full of rich history, but in a downtown core not often considered “walkable,” many people miss what makes the city so special as they whiz down Woodward Avenue in their car.
The Landmarked Detroit app, launched last week by local app development company Detroit Labs, is changing that.
The idea was conceived by Will McDowell, a business analyst at Detroit Labs, as a way for people to learn about Detroit’s past, present, and future through exploration. Detroit Labs allows its staff to spend about 20 percent of its time working on their own ideas — “kind of the Google model,” McDowell said.
Landmarked Detroit includes 20 check-in locations and approximately 40 points of interest from the Fox Theatre down to the Riverfront. Users have a to-do list to check off locations they’ve visited, and at each location, users receive interesting tidbits of info, see old photos, and more.
McDowell is a Detroit enthusiast who lives in the city and wants to encourage others to connect with Detroit in a new way. He spent six summers starting at age 16 working for a nonprofit called Summer in the City, where he is now chairman of the board. The program puts 200 youth to work in the summer for a wide variety of city programs.
“The Landmarked app motivates people to explore what’s going on outside of their normal route,” McDowell said. “In addition to providing interesting facts about the places people pass every day, traveling on foot provides an opportunity to discover restaurants and other businesses that have their own stories to tell. People will begin to realize that downtown Detroit really is a walkable city, and that there is a lot to do and see if you just take the time to check it out.”
Detroit’s unique walkable attributes include the nation’s largest indoor waterfall at Compuware headquarters, the nation’s first paved road and the spot where Martin Luther King Jr. gave a version of his “I Have A Dream” speech.
Detroit Labs is a portfolio company of Detroit Venture Partners, a digital-focused venture capital firm that invests in seed and early-stage tech companies located in Detroit.
Both businesses are located in the Madison Building in downtown Detroit, an entrepreneurial tech hub named one of the “World’s Coolest Offices” by Inc. Magazine.
Landmarked Detroit is in the Apple App Store. An Android version will be created if the Apple version is successful enough.