10 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Detroit
By: Scott Davis
June 9, 2017
We love Detroit, and chances are if you are reading this article then you love Detroit as well. It’s an incredibly unique city, one that is enriched with an interesting and storied past. There are many well-known facts about the D, such as there is no “South Detroit” or Detroit means “the strait” in French, but we are here to educate you with 10 things you might not have known about our beloved Motor City.
10. First city to ask, “Can I get your number?”
While it may not be the first city to have phones, Detroit is the first city in the United States to assign individual phone numbers. We’re thankful the city started phone numbers in 1879 because we can’t imagine what smoke signals would look like today.
9. Hope you’re not afraid of heights while you sleep
The Marriott at the Renaissance Center is the second tallest hotel in North America, second to only the Residence Inn in New York, which was built in 2013. The 73-story hotel offers a breathtaking view of the Detroit River (bonus fact: the Detroit River is technically not a river. It is a strait).
8. All we do is win, win, win
Despite being in a pretty bad championship slump (the last major sports championship was in 2008), Detroit sits fifth in all time sports championships. The city is only behind the likes of New York, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. As long as we’re better than Cleveland, right?
7. We get bowled over
Detroiters love bowling. In fact, they love it more than any other city. Detroit has the most registered bowlers in the United States. We’ll spare you any bowling puns that come to mind.
6. First to establish “Green means go, red means stop”
Stop us if you’ve heard this one, but Detroit is the first city to implement a four-way traffic light. The tri-color light was hung at the intersection of Woodward and Fort St. in 1920.
5. We’re on the highway to Detroit
Sure, we know Detroit is the Motor City because of the automotive industry, but did you know we laid down the road to urban traffic? The city is known for creating the first mile of concrete highway, Woodward Avenue between Six and Seven Mile, and the first full, urban freeway, before the likes of New York or Los Angeles.
4. We created the oldest (and possibly best) pop in Vernors
The oldest soda — sorry, pop — originates from Detroit in the form of Vernors ginger ale. That’s right, the pop that helps you with all your stomach problems is the oldest pop, soda, soft drink, whatever you call it, in America.
3. No one does island parks as big as us
A fact you know: Belle Isle is straight up beautiful. A fact you probably didn’t know: it is the largest island park in the United States. No wonder there’s so much to do there.
2. First to do news over the airwaves
Detroit might not have transmitted the first radio signals, but the city was the first to start broadcasting regular news reports in 1920. The station, at the time, was called 8MK, but you might know it now as WWJ News Radio 950 AM.
1. Detroit is incredibly salty
If you feel like Detroit is an extra salty city, that’s because it is. No, we are not talking about the massive amount of salt used on the roads in the winter. We are referring to the enormous salt mines 1,200 feet below the streets that have been operating since the early 1900s. If anyone ever complains about you being extra salty, just tell them there’s a good reason.