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Best Historic Locations in Detroit

By: Cityseeker
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The Guardian Building

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.

Detroit, MI, United States
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Second Baptist Church of Detroit

Located in the area of Greektown, Michigan's oldest African American church dates back to 1836. For its first 29 years, it was a key station on the Underground Railroad, sheltering some 5000 slaves in its basement during that time, as they moved towards freedom in Canada. Besides being a leading force in the abolitionist movement, the Second Baptist Church of Detroit was an early advocate of suffrage for African Americans and helped dozens of other local African American churches get organized. Now it is an important historical landmark, as well as a vibrant community center.

Detroit, MI, United States
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Fox Theatre

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.

Detroit, MI, United States
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Lafayette Park

The apartments within this park and residential area were designed by famous modern architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Considered a gem among the more run-down area of downtown Detroit to which it borders, entering the park is like stepping into a quiet oasis. The buildings show off Mies van der Rohe's signature architectural style, exposed steel frames, glass walls, and open interiors. Three main areas make up the park. To the east sit two twin towers, to the west one high-rise and 21 townhouses, and 13 acres (5.2 hectares) of landscaping in between. It's the largest collection of Mies van Der Rohe's buildings in the world, yet probably his least known, so architecture fans shouldn't skip out on a drive or stroll through the neighborhood.

Detroit, MI, United States
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Elmwood Cemetery

As one of the oldest cemeteries in all of Michigan, the Elmwood Cemetery has been around since 1846. The cemetery began on a modest stretch of 42 acres (16.99 hectares), doubling in size over the years to a sprawling 86 acres (34.8 hectares). Lush vegetation and majestic groves of towering trees make this a serene and peaceful place to visit. You can see a special memorial for Civil War soldiers where a flag is flown continuously in their honor. Other notable memorials include famous governors, mayors, abolitionists, prominent businessmen and many others. The beautiful garden which surrounds these graves has been awarded a Level I accreditation by the Morton Arboretum and the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program. To truly recognize the historic significance of the cemetery, go on one of the two free Tombstone Tales Guided Walking Tours.

Detroit, MI, United States
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Fisher Theatre

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.

Detroit, MI, United States
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Motown Museum

It is just befitting for the former headquarters of Motown Records Corporation to be a repository of this famous label. Motown Museum is an integral part of Detroit's cultural landscape and the country's musical legacy. Chronicling the most reputed African-American record labels in the nation where musical legends such as The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Temptations, Funk Brothers and Gladys Knight became stars, it is a true ode to music that inspired generations of music lovers.

Detroit, MI, United States
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Historic Fort Wayne

Resting along the banks of Detroit River, Fort Wayne is the only remaining fort out of the many that once stood along the river. Fort Wayne is an 82-acre (33.18 hectares) site that includes the fort, barracks, a garrison, a huge parade ground, and a restored commander's house. Having aged spectacularly over decades and decades, the fort has been enlisted on to the National Register of Historic Places. Having played an integral role as an instruction camp during the course of the Civil War, this star-shaped fortification has braved many ravages of time, yet standing strong as an important landmark of Michigan. Whispering secrets of its storied past, this historic fort lends stirring insights into the country's long-standing maritime history. The premises are also home to the Tuskegee Airmen National Museum.

Detroit, MI, United States
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Hurlbut Memorial Gate

The Hurlbut Memorial Gate is a grand structure at the main entrance of the Water Works Park in the historic district of Detroit. This limestone structure was built in Beaux Arts style by Gustave Mueller and Herman A. Brede. There is a rather rich history behind the construction of this monument, which coincides with the development of the city of Detroit. Built in 1984 and repaired in 2007, the monument is a Michigan State Historic Site and is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

Detroit, MI, United States
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Boston-Edison Historic District

Boston-Edison is a historic neighborhood located in Detroit, Michigan, and one of the largest residential districts in the nation. Consisting of over 900 homes with aesthetic significance, it boasts of several architectural styles. The district is surrounded by many historic places including the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in the west, Arden Park East Boston Historic District, and the Cathedral of Most Blessed Sacrament in the east, and the Atkinson Avenue Historic District in the south.

Detroit, MI, United States
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Commandant's Quarters

Commandant's Quarters is a historic military structure. Built in the 1830s, the Commandant's Quarters was part of several buildings that made up the Dearborn Arsenal which stored, maintained and repaired the U.S. Army's arms and ammunition. In 1887 the army decided the arsenal was no longer useful and they sold off all the arsenal. The Commandant's Quarters has since been used in various ways, including as a library, a town hall and a school. This historic building is now the home of the Dearborn Historical Museum.

Dearborn, MI, United States
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Edsel & Eleanor Ford House

Tour this peaceful hideaway of automobile magnate Edsel Ford and his wise Eleanor. This 87-acre (35.2 hectare) estate is located on the shores of Lake St. Clair and the house was designed by the renowned architect Albert Kahn. The estate features original paintings by Matisse, Cezanne and more as well as has beautifully landscaped grounds. Guided tours around the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House offer a look at this beautiful manor as well as an interesting history lesson.

Grosse Pointe Shores, MI, United States
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