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The Guardian Building, constructed in 1929, is one of the most recognizable landmark buildings in the Detroit skyline. Bestowed as a United States Historic Landmark, this stunning piece of architecture towers more than 490 feet (149 meter) over Detroit's heart. The opulent Art Deco structure has 36 floors with interiors that are actually just as impressive as the façade. It's home to many financial firms and hence it has rightly earned the epithet 'Cathedral of Finance'. Irrespective of how busy one's schedule is, locals as well as tourists find time to step-in and admire the colorful beauty of this architectural marvel.
This gigantic concrete expanse at the foot of Woodward Avenue stretches from Jefferson Avenue to the Detroit River. Designed in the 1960s as a civic space by Isamu Noguchi, it includes his unusual twisted spire and fountain. The plaza has a stage and amphitheater and is used for riverfront festivals on summer weekends, the Detroit Jazz Festival, and ice skating in winter. Hart Plaza provides access to a riverfront walkway; it's a favorite spot for fishing and it has a beautiful view of Canada across the river.
Dominating the skyline of the downtown riverfront area, the GM Renaissance Center is a series of seven analogous skyscrapers soaring at 73 floors. These mixed-use structures are an iconic emblem in the city's map and fine examples of the modern architectural style. The central tower is spectacular with sunlight glinting off its cylindrical glass structure and is linked with the other six glass edifices. Besides being the headquarter of General Motors and featuring a massive showroom, the complex boasts of a luxurious five-star hotel, fine dining establishments, a food court and exhibit spaces as well.
One of the many spirited attractions in downtown Detroit, Comerica Park is an extensive verdant field which has been a host to some iconic sporting events and concerts in the past. Named after the bank whose funds made its creation possible, Comerica Park overlooks some of the soaring high-rises residing in the city's downtown. Home ground of the Detroit Tigers, this sprawling ballpark is anything but a run-of-the-mill, neighborhood stadium. Strewn across its course are glorious tiger statues, a baseball-themed Ferris wheel, and the enormous Chevrolet Fountain. Hence, Comerica Park harbors a lively, further amplified by enthusiastic cheers and celebrations when the Tigers hit a home run. The ballpark is also home to the Big Cat Court, which offers a wealth of delectable foods like pretzels, deli sandwiches, French fries, Chicago-style hot dogs and more.
The preservation of this theater is one of Detroit's proudest achievements. The 5048-seat palace of the arts, arguably the most opulent in the nation when it opened in 1928, was designated a national landmark in 1989 after a USD11,000,000 refurbishment by new owner Mike Ilitch. The oldest, continually operating theater in the United States features a 10-storey marquee, a six-storey lobby with a two-ton chandelier and 300,000 glass jewels in its interior. The exotic presentation of lions, gold fixtures and jaw-dropping grandeur harkens back to the flamboyant era of movie houses. The Fox is now busy with concerts, family-oriented shows and a wide variety of other offerings. It's the anchor of the Theatre District and perhaps Detroit's greatest civic treasure.
The largest Masonic Temple in the world, this ornate building opened in 1926. For decades its 5000-seat, acoustically rich and intimate auditorium served as Detroit's choicest venue for concerts, opera and plays. The impressive building has 1037 rooms, including ten decorative period lodge rooms; a Scottish Rite Cathedral that seats around 1500 people and has rich ceiling carvings and colors, and a huge drill hall with a floating floor laid atop felt cushions. It is truly a Detroit landmark.
Michigan Central Station, also called Penn Central Station, was a rail depot built in 1913 to serve the Michigan Central Railroad. The station's imposing Beaux Arts building was the point of pride for the railroad and at one point it held the distinction of being the tallest railway station in the world. While the station is no longer in use today, it stands as a reminder of the glory days of the railroad. This abandoned building has historical significance and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The second oldest Catholic Church in the United States, Ste. Anne de Detroit was founded in 1701. Following a series of tragedies and change of locations, the current church, located near the Ambassador Bridge, is the eighth Ste. Anne's and dates back to 1886. It's a finely detailed Gothic structure with flying buttresses and four gargoyles near the entrance. The wood altar was taken from the 1818 church. It has the oldest stained glass in Detroit, a beautifully hand-carved communion rail and an impressive old pipe organ. Mass is celebrated daily, with some Sunday masses in Spanish. This is one of the city's greatest architectural and historic treasures.
A fascinating feature of the Cultural Center is the main branch of the Detroit Public Library. Opened in 1921 and expanded in 1963, the library is made of white Vermont marble. Designed by Cass Gilbert, architect of the US Supreme Court building, the building is in Italian Renaissance style. Murals and stained glass add to the grand effect. The main part of the library has a wide range of books and documents. It also houses special collections, including the Ernie Harwell Collection, E.Azalia Hackley Collection and the Burton Historical Collection, a wealth of local history and genealogical information.
Located inside the golden-domed Fisher Building in Detroit's New Center, the Fisher Theatre has long been Detroit's venue for touring productions of Broadway plays and musicals. These and other national theatrical productions usually fill the seats at this meticulously renovated historic gem. The lobby of the Fisher Building is spectacularly ornate and the theater itself is grand. Over the years, it has been Detroit's stable window on the world of theater and one of the most elegant destinations in the city. All the seats, even in the balcony, are good ones.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000, the Fort Street–Pleasant Street and Norfolk & Western Railroad Viaduct is a local landmark. It features six lanes as well as four railway tracks. Although not in use, it stands as a testament of the progress of Detroit's transportation system.