Welcome to Detroit
The sprawling industrial city of Detroit, the oldest city in
America's mid-west, began life as a trading post when French
explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac landed on the banks of the
Detroit River in 1701 and established a fort. He was later removed
because of bad conduct, but unlike its outpost commander, the
settlement of Detroit was flourishing. In 1796 Detroit became
American, and by the early 19th century had already earned a
reputation as a centre for the manufacturing industry, particularly
kitchen ranges. As most people now know, however, Detroit did not
go on to become the stove-making capital of the world. Today it is
renowned as being the automotive centre of the globe, birthplace of
the motorcar and home to some of the nation's top brands.
Originally automobile empires were established by Detroit families
like Ford, Olds, Chevrolet and Dodge, which have become household
names, thanks to the invention and perfection of the motor vehicle
production assembly line, which all began in Detroit.
It is not only hard work and industrial enterprise that drives
Detroit, however. The city in southeast Michigan is also famous for
the Motown record label, founded by former autoworker Berry Gordy
Jr, which has introduced the world to stars such as Stevie Wonder,
Michael Jackson, the Temptations and Diana Ross, to name but a
Modern 'Motown' Detroit is a little decayed and shabby, but
efforts are being made to increase the city's appeal as a tourist
destination, and there are several attractions worth seeing. In the
downtown area new hotels and restaurants are appearing to
complement a new sports stadium, and there is a focus on the arts,
particularly in the city's historic theatre district. The
Rennaissance Center, a group of seven interconnected skyscrapers,
provides the best views of downtown Detroit.
Information & Facts
Detroit has a temperate climate with warm, humid summers and
very cold winters. Mid-summer temperatures can rise as high as 90°F
(32°C), while in the coldest month, January, the mercury usually
stays well below freezing point. Rainfall is spread fairly evenly
over the year with a few inches being recorded each month. Snow
usually falls between November and April.
There is not much in the way of public transport in Detroit, and
the Motor City is still geared resolutely towards the car. Driving
is not too challenging and parking is relatively easy to find, but
rush hours should be avoided. To hire a car drivers must be 21
years old and have a valid driver's license; sometimes an
International Driving Permit is also required. However, should one
choose to rely on public transport, the People Mover is an elevated
monorail that provides a quick and easy way to get around most of
the downtown area, while DOT buses operate a meagre inner-city
service and the SMART buses serve the suburbs, but service is
sparse on weekends. Taxis are a convenient form of transport and
can easily be found or ordered by phone.
English is the most common language but Spanish is often
spoken in south-western states.
The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into
100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are
widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely
accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid
hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.