Did You Know? Fun Facts About the Motor City

By: Scott Davis | April 1, 2014

Detroit has a storied history. With that being said, there are bound to be interesting and fun facts about our city. It’s no secret to us Detroiters that Woodward was the first paved road, which is awesome, but I think we can find more quirky traits about Motown. Let’s delve into this some more.

We can look south to Canada: Detroit is the only city in the 48 contiguous United States where you can look south and see our northern neighbor. We aren’t even the northernmost city in the U.S., but we are just that cool! Apologies to Alaska, but we are not counting you so we can claim this.

The world’s first auto traffic tunnel between two nations was the Detroit/Windsor tunnel which first opened in 1928.

PS: If you’re from Metro Detroit you probably know there is no such thing as “South Detroit,” unless you want to be in the Detroit River or Windsor. Sorry, Steve Perry, still love the song though.

Detroit is the potato chip capital of the world…based on consumption: I’m not sure if this does any justice for the health of our residents, but I found this to be an interesting fact few people would know about. According to a press release from Detroit’s most known potato chip company, Better Made, Detroiters consume an average of seven pounds of chips per year, as opposed to a four pound average for the rest of the country!

Other local potato chip companies; such as Uncle Ray’s may also have a thing or two to do with our chip consumption. The problem is it is nearly impossible to eat just one chip, but hey, no other city can claim this. Boom, roasted.

We are one of the founders of the ice cream soda: First of all, if you are from Detroit saying “soda” is a sin. We call it “pop” I know, but for the sake of this fact I will reference it as an “ice cream soda.”  It is rumored that Detroit’s own Fred Sanders ran out of cream for his popular “sweet cream soda” so he improvised and mixed ice cream with ginger ale, aka the “Boston Cooler.” Named after Boston Boulevard in Detroit, not the city.

In addition, Vernors is the oldest surviving ginger ale brand in the United States, invented in 1862 in Detroit by James Vernor, a Detroit pharmacist. I bet all of those states who make fun of Detroit are jealous now!

Fun fact about me: I don’t drink pop unless there is ice cream in it…or whiskey.

Detroit is the second largest theater district in the United States: With about a dozen and a half professional theaters and a plethora of smaller theaters, we are only behind New York City for the most theaters in the United States.  Plus, with 13,000 theater seats, Detroit has the most seats east of the Mississippi River (outside of New York). This was probably the fact that blew me away the most. That is so cool! People should refer to us as “Baby Broadway.”

From Broadway classics to orchestras to Shakespearian plays, Detroit has you covered.

Detroit is home to the only floating post office in the United States: Just south of The Ambassador Bridge sits the J.W. Westcott II, docked on the western shore of the Detroit River.

The vessel uses a “mail in the pail” system where a rope and bucket are lowered down to other ships and mail, messages and other items can be placed in the pail for delivery.  Other services such as freight delivery, storage and forwarding are also offered by the J.W. Westcott II.

It even has its own zip code: 48222.

Some other interesting facts: Detroit is the birthplace of techno, was the first city to assign individual telephone numbers in the U.S. in 1879, supplied roughly 75 percent of alcohol during prohibition and has the largest island within a city in the country (Belle Isle).