Detroit, much like Chicago, L.A. or New York, is a large city comprised of many different and unique neighborhoods within its confines. Some of these neighborhoods have a history and ties to the area that can go back hundreds of years, back to Detroit’s incorporation in 1701. Each of these distinct neighborhoods not only has a defined geographic location within the city, but many stories that go along with each area as well. All have certain characteristics that define them, and much can be found in each if you’re willing to explore what is offered. Here’s a guide to some of the Motor City’s larger neighborhoods, with some insider details and happenings on how to make the most out of each area.
No big secrets here: Detroit’s downtown corridor is like any other major metropolis’ with massive skyscrapers, a daytime bustling financial district and plenty of one-stop shops. Though the downtown section of Motown often slows down to little more than a crawl at night (unless an entertainment event is happening), there’s never a shortage of things to do. With the Red Wings, Tigers and Lions all within walking distance from one another, and a slew of sports bars not far away, downtown is your Detroit sports destination. On weekends, the Detroit Eastern Market, the oldest public market in the country (in operation since 1841), offers some of the Midwest’s best fruits and vegetables, as well as some creative gifts from local vendors. Urban parks are popping up throughout downtown, much in the style of the city’s most famous park, Campus Martius. Rent in the downtown Detroit neighborhood has skyrocketed over the past two years with the renovation and reopening of many classic and historic buildings catered to young tenants.
Midtown is one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in all of Metro Detroit. Originally home to the wealthiest of the Motor City’s residents in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it is now home to Wayne State University, and many of the city’s younger, trendier occupants choose to live here. Stretching along Woodward Avenue through the bisection of the city, Midtown is also home of the Cass Corridor, which is the hip and trendy neighborhood that focuses on the arts and culture of the area with an educational mindset. Many creative companies and outlets are looking to make Midtown their home base. This neighborhood draws many comparisons to New York’s Brooklyn neighborhoods (with some Brooklynites choosing to relocate to Midtown, Detroit for the cheaper living accommodations) due to its focus on arts, culture and the hipster lifestyle. Each September, the Dally in the Alley festival draws major crowds to help support the local artists and musicians.
The Jefferson Corridor runs along the riverfront east of Downtown Detroit along Jefferson Avenue up through the city’s east side. This area is famous for its gorgeous views of the Detroit River, but had been plagued by blight and crime up until recently. Efforts in the past decade have dramatically improved the area not only cosmetically, but safety-wise. In the Jefferson Corridor, you can find Rivertown, which contains some of the area’s new upscale living communities and marinas, as well as the Detroit Riverwalk, which extends from the Renaissance Center all along up through the East Side. The Riverwalk allows residents and tourists to bike, jog and to fully enjoy the natural beauty of the waterfront and the many stops along the way.
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Located just north of the Ambassador Bridge, and comprised mostly of Mexican residents, this area is also home to a growing number of younger non-Latino citizens. Known for the abundance of amazing Mexican restaurants, there is never any shortage for finding great food to eat while in this neighborhood. Some of the most highly recommended of these eateries include Mexican Village, Evie’s Tamales, El Zocalo and Xochimilco. Rent in this area tends to be cheaper than in the Downtown or Midtown neighborhoods, so population is growing in this area, which has been a boon for the Motor City’s economy as a whole.
It was the great potato famine of the 1840s that drove many of the Irish from their homeland off to Detroit, where they founded the city’s oldest neighborhood: Corktown. The original home of “The Corner,” Corktown was host to Tigers Stadium, home of the Detroit Tigers from 1912 to 1999, which was situated at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Avenue. After the stadium’s final demolition in 2009, the area was cleared to help remove much of the scene’s blight (though the famous abandoned Michigan Central Station still stands vacant in this area). Now a cultural hub, Corktown is booming with new restaurants, shops, businesses and young families looking to establish roots in the area. Located just west of the city’s Downtown neighborhood, the homes here are historic and in wonderful condition, prompting many interested and motivated buyers. Michigan Avenue, which runs through the center of the neighborhood, has a great shopping district with plenty of new stores and diners to explore, including Slows Bar BQ, which continually garners acclaim as one of the country’s best barbecue joints.
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