Along with Detroit having some great breweries around town, there’s a lot that the city has hiding. But finding those things isn’t hard if you know where to look and have a real interest in the city’s history.
“Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus”
No, it’s not a spell from a Harry Potter book, but that is the official Detroit motto in Latin. In English, it translates to “We hope for better things; it shall rise from the ashes.” Beautiful isn’t it? But what is even greater than their motto is their colorful and revolutionary past. Detroit started some of the most important innovations in the country.
The creation of a Private Number
The invention of the telephone in the 1800s is also the invention of telephone numbers but the same goes with party lines. Because numbers are just that, general numbers for those who own a telephone at that time. In the past, a call needs to go through an operator before reaching to a specific person. A party line or a third party is very much common during the old days. But Detroit helped to change all that, they are the first city to assign a specific phone number of an individual. They cut out the unnecessary party line.
The first concrete highway is in Detroit
Detroit has a long reputation for automobiles and even in transportation innovation. Named as the Motor City of the US, Detroit is the home of the first four-way-three color traffic light and the first mile of concrete highway. The highway is the first urban freeway in the world. In 1909, the Wayne County Road Commission built the country’s first mile of concrete highway in Detroit. The road expands at Woodward Avenue between the 6 and 7-mile roads in the city. Detroit also houses the first traffic tunnel between Canada and the US, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.
Also, the Ambassador Bridge is located in Detroit, the busiest single border of the two countries. Another fascinating fact about Detroit is the location. Some Canadians need to drive north to go to the US, the only major city in the US that is located north of Canada.
Detroit really loves liquors
A Detroit pharmacist named James Vernor created a new drink; he was then called to serve during the Civil War in 1862. He stored his new liquor invention in an oak cask and when he came back after his service, he found out that the keg transformed the drink. The drink was later named as Vernors Ginger Ale. During the Prohibition, an estimated 75% of illegal liquor was smuggled using the waterways of Detroit to supply the country’s need for the intoxicating drinks.
The city sits on a large salt mine
Detroit boasts of at least 1,400 acres of salt mines right under the city. The salt mine is older than the automotive industry in Detroit. In fact, it is older than the dinosaurs. Salt deposits were created about 400 million years ago during the Devonian Period; a time where the fish were started to grow legs to migrate onto land. Ancient oceans that were evaporating during those times created the massive deposits of salt in Detroit. The Detroit Salt Company mines more than 100 miles of road for salt. The impressive sight of salt can be found at 1281 Sanders Street.
AKA Potato Chip Capital
Another lesser known fact about the city is that Detroiters consume on average at least 7 pounds of chips a year. The other citizens of the country consume only around 4 pounds of potato chips every year. Either way, that’s a lot of potatoes.
The city has its own Floating Post Office
The city of Detroit has its very own Floating Post Office, the only of its kind in the world. In the past, the J.W. Westcott II acts as a plain maritime reporting agency that roams the Detroit River. The Floating Post Office used to informed cargo vessels regarding the weather conditions and other situation in port. In 1948, the vessel eventually became the world’s first ever floating post office. It also gained its very own zip code, 48222. Now if only someone would send us a letter… but that’s another story altogether.
A colossal theater district
Good news for Detroiters, they don’t need to travel all the way to the Big Apple just to see amazing live theater performances. The theater district of Detroit ranks as the second largest in the country. It falls only second after New York City. The colossal theater district expands an area for two city blocks with a massive 13,000 seats. That’s a cultural achievement that hard to beat. Famous musicians even call Detroit their very home. Who exactly? Well, Madonna, Kid Rock, Aaliyah, Eminem and Aretha Franklin call Detroit their home, just to name a few.
Shaping the Wild West
Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac called the city from a French word “Detroit” which means “the strait”. It refers to the flow of the river, a strait between Canada and the US. Detroit is the oldest city in the west that was part of the thirteen colonies on the Mississippi. Founded on July 24, 1701, Detroit helped shaped the foundation of the Midwest that greatly influenced the future of the other nearby states. The city even reuses the old fort making it the main building for the Detroit Free Press and News.
Commemorating the Point of Origin
Just like any other city, Detroit still commemorates its point of origin. It’s a place where all measurements start. The Seven Mile Road and Eight Mile Road got their names because they are seven and eight miles from Campus Martius Park. The city point of origin is near the Fountain Bistro at Woodward and Monroe. A plaque is there to mark Detroit’s first days on the map.
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