What are the key things people should know about Detroit?


Too much to summarize right now. Check out the Wikipedia page.


For a more comprehensive overview, check out the Wikipedia page on Detroit neighborhoods.

  • Detroit is generally divided into East Side and West Side by Woodward.
  • Brightmoor, in northwest Detroit, was a planned community of small houses for immigrants who worked in the auto industry. Most houses were built by 1924, and by the 2000s, many were decaying, leading to widespread blight.
  • Corktown, the oldest neighborhood in Detroit, is generally seen as an up-and-coming neighborhood with increasing numbers of young artists and professionals.
  • Delray is an industrial / residential neighborhood in the southwest of Detroit. It has high levels of pollution due to the nearby Zug Island, and has seen high levels of blight.
  • Downtown is centered around around Campus Martius park, the starting point of the spokes of Detroit's grid system. In recent years, Dan Gilbert has purchased at least 8 office buildings and skyscrapers in downtown. Home to two stadiums, casinos, restaurants, courts, and offices.
  • Mexicantown is one of the few areas of Detroit that has consistently expanded in the past decade. Latino residents have revitalized the area, which has restaurants, bakeries, and the large indepen
  • Midtown (known longer as the Cass Corridor) is located around Cass near the Cultural Center, hospitals, and Wayne State. These institutions, nonprofits, and living incentives have brought recent improvements to the area, which is generally seen as on the upswing.
  • New Center, anchored by the Fisher Building, was once the world headquarters of General Motors. It's now home to mixed-use residential and commercial areas.
  • The Villages include generally high-end, stable housing on the east side of Detroit off Jefferson. Some of the largest and best homes are in the Villages, which also have private security services.
  • Woodbridge, located to the West of Wayne State, is a dense, historic neighborhood west of Wayne State that has remained relatively stable.

Close by

  • Dearborn, directly to the west of Detroit, is the home of the world headquarters of Ford. The city has the highest proportion of Arab-Americans in the US.
  • Highland Park and Hamtramck are completely enclosed by Detroit. Originally nearly 90% Polish, white flight and immigration from southeast Asia has brought diversity.
  • The Grosse Pointes, located to the east / northeast of Detroit, are independent, high-wealth suburbs. At some points, they are physically walled off from the city.


  • Recent mayors include the infamous Kwame Kilpatrick, who, along with family members, was indicted several times for federal crimes including bribery and fraud. He plead guilty to felony obstruction of justice in 2008 and resigned after pressure from local business leaders. Council President Ken Cockrel assumed the mayorship, but was replaced in a special election in May 2009 by Dave Bing. He returned to Council.
  • Dave Bing, a former businessman and basketball star, has faced a series of structural problems since assuming office. Mounting debts, high costs, and a shrinking tax base have exacerbated problems including high crime, blight, and decreasing levels of public service. Bing's generally analytical, pragmatic style clashed with a City Council that does not agree with many of his decisions. Over 30 high-level staff members have left his administration. See also: Detroit Works Project
  • Governor Rick Snyder, who was inaugurated in 2011, signed an emergency financial manager law that would allow the state to appoint a manager to oversee organizations, including cities, that were not able to control their costs and debts. EFMs have special powers to modify or cancel collective bargaining agreements, recommend consolidation or dissolution of units of local government, and recommend bankruptcy proceedings. Local elected officials are not permitted to act. The Detroit Public Schools have an EFM. The State has started the process to investigate if one should to be appointed in the City. Efforts to repeal the EFM law or bring a
  • Detroit City Council has nine at-large, non-partisan members. In recent years, the Council has provided a counterpoint to Detroit's strong mayor, drafting differing plans and rejecting mayoral initiatives, often without strong coordination between the offices.
  • Foundations have played an increasingly large role in Detroit as services provided by the city and county have declined. The Kellogg, Knight, Skillman, Kresge and other major foundations have contributed vast sums to neighborhood projects, charter schools, education, healthcare, and other fields. Many laud their investments, but others are worried about unaccountable actors working directly in neighborhoods.
  • Local business leaders like Dan Gilbert, Matty Moroun, Roger Penske, Peter Karmanos, the Illitches, and others frequently contribute to the local discourse.
  • Charter revision commission.


Revitalization and Community Organizations

Corporations / Industries

Parks, Arts, and Culture


  • A system of highways divide Detroit. Construction projects have often harmed communities: Black Bottom was destroyed to build the Chrysler Freeway and Lafayette Park. More recently, a new highway approach to the Ambassador Bridge divided Mexicantown.
  • The Detroit Department of Transportation, or DDOT, is the largest public transit provider in Michigan. A part of city government, DDOT has faced several challenges in the past decades. Nearly half the city's busses were out of repair as of September 2011, leading to long delays. Around the same time, 20%-50% of bus runs failed to arrive. The new Rosa Parks Transit Center is the downtown bus hub.
  • The SMART (Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation) system serves the Detroit suburbs. Communities pay a fee for service and can opt-out, leading to areas that have no coverage. Due to budget cuts and historical animosity, SMART makes few stops inside the City of Detroit, most near the central transit hub.
  • The People Mover, a downtown elevated train loop with 13 stations, opened in 1987. Originally designed as a hub-and-spoke system, a lack of funding and wider support lead to only a small part being implemented. Operating deficits have lead the system to tap its reserves.
  • The Woodward Light Rail project, in planning for x years, was shelved in late 2011 in favor of a larger bus rapid transit system. Debates centered around locating the trains in the center of the road (out of traffic, faster, fewer stops) or the sides (in traffic, slower, more stops). The line was to run from an undecided point downtown to at least New Center and the Amtrak station or to 8 Mile.
  • Bus rapid transit (BRT)
  • A regional transit authority will be needed to manage a regional rapid transit system. Historically, support for an RTA has been hard to achieve, as the different parties involved (counties, suburban cities, and Detroit) have had concerns about system management and ownership.