Midtown is the cultural center of Detroit. It is home to several museums and galleries, such as the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Just north of Midtown is New Center. This area developed in the 1920s as a business hub that would offer convenient access to both downtown and outlying factories. New Center is home to some great 1920s architecture.
The Midtown-New Center area is bounded by I-75 to the east and south, M-10 to the west, and Highland Park to the north.
Detroit's New Center is considered to be the world's first edge city, a business hub remote from, but related to, a main urban core. It developed in the 1920s with the construction of several historic buildings, such as the Cadillac Place and the Fisher Building. Some of these buildings were designed by Albert Kahn, who is called the Architect of Detroit as he designed dozens of historic buildings in Detroit in the 1920s.
Detroit's Midtown attracts millions of people annually with its great museums and other cultural centers. It is also home to Wayne State University's main campus. On any given day, Midtown is probably the busiest place in town, with three times its population commuting in.
If coming from the north: Take I-75 South to Exit 53A towards Warren Avenue. Keep straight to go onto Chrysler Drive. Next, turn right onto Warren Avenue East. You will then arrive in Midtown and stay straight on Woodward or Cass Avenues.
If coming from the south: Take I-75 North towards Detroit and continue to Exit 50 towards Grand River Avenue. Keep straight to go onto the Fisher Freeway West. Finally, turn left onto Woodward and you will arrive in Midtown.
If coming from the east: Take I-94 West and continue to Exit 215C toward M-1/Woodward Ave/Brush Street. Keep straight to get onto the Edsel Ford Freeway East. Finally, turn left onto Woodward Avenue and you will arrive in Midtown.
If coming from the west: Take I-96 East and take Exit 190A to merge onto I-94 East towards Port Huron. Take the M-1/Woodward Ave Exit 215C toward John R Road. Keep straight to go onto the Edsel Ford Freeway East. Turn right onto John R Road. Next, turn right again onto Hendrie Street to Woodward Avenue and you will arrive in Midtown.
- 1 Colonel Frank Hecker House, 5510 Woodward Ave. Built in 1888, this château-styled house would make you think you were in Paris. It houses offices, but it is still worth a stop to just see the architecture. The house was based on the Château de Chenonceaux near Tours, France.
- 2 Detroit Public Library, 5201 Woodward Ave (at Farnsworth Ave), ☏ . Tu-W noon-8PM, Th-Sa 10AM-6PM. Built in 1921, the Italian Renaissance building features white Vermont marble. It holds the second largest collection of books in Michigan after the library at the University of Michigan. Free.
- 3 Maccabees Building (Wayne Tower), 5057 Woodward Ave. This high-rise truss tower was constructed in the neo-gothic architectural style, using a great deal of limestone, much like the Detroit Masonic Temple. This Albert Kahn-designed building is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
- 4 Old Main, 4841 Cass Ave. Old Main has been a part of Wayne State University's main campus since it was built in 1934. It was built over a four-year period out of limestone from the land directly in front of it. The structure was designed in a Classical Revival style.
- The David Whitney House
- 5 Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E Warren Ave, ☏ . Tu-Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM. This museum, founded in 1965, holds the world's largest permanent exhibit on African American culture. Artwork in the main rotunda features the names of figures from African-American history, such as Prince Hall. See how many you know! $8 adults, $5 children and seniors.
- 6 Detroit Historical Museum, 5401 Woodward Ave, ☏ . Tu-F 9:30AM-4PM, Sa Su 10AM-5PM. This museum chronicles the entire history of Detroit, from the time of French settlement to the 21st century. The Detroit Historical Museum was founded in 1914 when historian Clarence M. Burton donated his collection to the Detroit Public Library, which led to the creation of the museum. Free.
- 7 Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave, ☏ . W Th 10AM-5PM, F 10AM-10PM, Sa Su 10AM-6PM. It has one of the largest and most significant art collections in the United States. The DIA ranked as the second largest city-owned museum in the United States with an art collection worth more than $1 billion. Its first painting was donated in 1883, and today its collection consists of over 65,000 works. The actual building of this 677,000 square foot museum is highly regarded by architects. $8 adults, $6 seniors, $4 youth.
- 8 Michigan Science Center, 5020 John R St, ☏ . M-F 9AM-3PM, Sa Su 10AM-6PM. This museum features many hands on exhibits and a IMAX Dome theater, a planetarium, and a kids' town during special events.
- 9 Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, 4454 Woodward Ave, ☏ . W Sa & Su 11AM-5PM, Th F 11AM-8PM. This non-collecting contemporary art museum is housed in a 22,000 square foot building that used to be a car dealership. The architecture is intentionally raw and unfinished, and is intended to reflect the scars of urban blight which surround it. Free.
- 10 First Living Museum, 33 E Forest Ave (at Woodward Ave), ☏ . Underground Railroad museum at the First Congregational Church of Detroit; a one-hour re-enactment Flight to Freedom Tour has visitors shackled with wrist bands at the beginning of an Escape as passengers on a simulated Underground Railroad where they are led to Freedom by a Conductor, hiding from bounty hunters, crossing the Ohio River to seek refuge in Levi Coffin's abolitionist safe house in Indiana before arriving to “Midnight”, code name for Détroit, and safe haven at the First Congregational Church of Detroit before reaching Canada and freedom. $12-15/person.
- 13 East Ferry Avenue Historic District.
- 14 West Canfield Historic District.
- 15 Brush Park Historic District (Woodward East), on Alfred, Edmund, and Watson Streets from Brush Street to John R Street. It is known for its restored High Victorian-style residences constructed for Detroit's wealthy of the late 19th century.
- 16 Argonaut Building, 485 W Milwaukee St. This building, designed by Albert Kahn, is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The 275-unit structure structure is an Art Deco building, and uses primarily brick and limestone in its materials.
- 17 Cadillac Place, 3044 West Grand Blvd. This National Historic Landmark opened as the second largest office building in the world. Designed by noted architect Albert Kahn, it is an exquisite example of Neo-Classical architecture. As the General Motors Building, it housed the company's world headquarters from 1923 until 1996, when the company moved downtown.
- 18 Fisher Building, 3011 W Grand Blvd. This National Historic Landmark lies in the heart of New Center. The Fisher Building is a good enough reason to visit New Center. The office building rises 30-stories with a roof height of 428 ft. Designed in Art Deco, it is considered Albert Kahn's greatest work. The year of its construction, the Fisher building was honored by the Architectural League of New York as the year's most beautiful commercial structure. The building has been called Detroit's largest art object. Free tours of Fisher Building are available (check website for exact schedule).
- 19 Motown Museum / Hitsville U.S.A, 2648 W Grand Blvd, ☏ . T-Sa 10AM-6PM. "Hitsville U.S.A." is the nickname of Motown Records first headquarters. It was purchased by Motown founder Berry Gordy in 1959, and converted into the record label's administrative building and recording studio. All of the early Motown hits by artists such as Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Marvelettes, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, The Temptations, The Supremes, Martha & the Vandellas, The Jackson 5, and The Four Tops, among others, were recorded in the studio at Hitsville. Since 1985, the Hitsville U.S.A. building has been the site of the Motown Historical Museum, dedicated to the legacy of the record label, its artists, and its music. Owned and operated by Esther Gordy Edwards, sister of Berry Gordy, the Motown Museum contains exhibits featuring costumes, photos, and records from Motown's success era. Also featured are Motown's "Studio A" and Berry Gordy's upstairs apartment, decorated to appear as they did during the 1960s. $15 adults, $10 seniors & children.
- 20 Arden Park-East Boston, on East Boston and Arden Park Boulevards. This neighborhood was created in 1892 with spacious lots to attract the city's wealthier residents. Architectural styles represented in Arden Park-East Boston include Italian Renaissance, Colonial Revival, Tudor, Bungalow style and Prairie Style. The neighborhood's most prominent landmark is the Gothic-styled Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
- 21 Boston-Edison, West Boston Boulevard, Chicago Boulevard, Longfellow Avenue, and Edison Avenue, stretching from Woodward Avenue on the east to Linwood Avenue on the west. This neighborhood consists of over 900 homes, making it the largest residential historic district in the nation. In 1891, Edward W. Voigt obtained the land that makes up Boston-Edison and platted spacious lots and set building restrictions that established the unique character of the neighborhood. Architectural styles represented include English Tudor revival, Roman and Greek Revival, French Provincial, Colonial Revival, Italian Renaissance, Prairie Style, and Vernacular. Henry Ford was one of the earliest residents of this neighborhood.
- 22 Piquette Avenue Industrial, along Piquette Street, from Woodward Avenue on the west to Hastings Street on the east. The area along Piquette was an important center for automobile production in the early 20th century. Several automakers, such as Ford, Dodge, and Cadillac, had plants in this area. The Ford Piquette Plant, a National Historic Landmark, is a three-story mill-style building and where the first Model Ts were built.
- New Center summer events. Detroit. A summer-long series of weekly events including concerts, food festivals, happy hour, and outdoor movies in New Center Park near the Fisher Building.
- Dally in the Alley. An annual festival of live music, visual arts, performance, food and beer that takes place in the alleys of the Cass Corridor, the weekend after Labor Day.
- Dirty Show. Detroit International Erotic Art Exhibition, popular event.
- Fash Bash. A cutting-edge fashion event and fund-raiser coordinated by the Detroit Institute of Arts, featuring big name celebrities, traditionally held in August.
- Detroit's vibrant, underground arts scene Detroit is home to over 80 galleries, with artists hailing from around the world. Artists are attracted to Detroit due to its abundance of raw, under-utilized industrial space and its inspiring environment of pre-Depression era buildings. Detroit's public information campaign, "The World is Coming, Get in the Game" features an online tour of this arts scene.
- Detroit's music scene The Detroit sound is the sound of the world. It is shaped by Detroit's unique past, its cultural diversity, its energy and its future. Detroit's public information campaign, "The World is Coming, Get in the Game" features an online tour of this music scene. Keep in mind that unlike some cities, there is no central entertainment district (Greektown only partially counts) and many up and coming groups play at venues scattered throughout the area. Website Motor City Blog lists music events happening in the Detroit area.
- 1 Little Caesars Arena. Opened in September 2017 as the new home of the city's NHL and NBA teams, respectively the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons. While the Wings had previously played a few blocks away at the since-demolished Joe Louis Arena, the Pistons had played in the northern suburbs for nearly 40 years before returning to Detroit proper.
- 2 Fisher Theatre, 3011 W Grand Blvd, ☏ . This theatre inside the Fisher Building is one of Detroit's oldest venues. The theatre is adorned with marble, Indian rosewood and walnut paneling, and crystal and bronze decorative work.
- 3 The Majestic Theater, 4120-4140 Woodward Ave. At combines a show space, a theater, cafe and a bowling alley. Rock -n- Bowl is in the Majestic Theater complex. The oldest bowling alley in the state. DJs play old-school punk and new wave music while you bowl. You can get up close and personal to the bands or shoot pool while listening to live music. Highly recommended for checking out some new music whether it be local or a touring band.
- Eastern Market, 2934 Russell St. M-Sa 7AM - 5PM. Historic farmers market.
- Pure Detroit. Detroit souvenirs. Stores inside the Renaissance Center, the Fisher Building, and the Guardian Building.
- Submerge Records, 3000 E Grand Blvd (between John R and Brush). Record shop in New Center specializing in Detroit techno and other electronic music.
- 1 Seva, 66 E Forest, ☏ . 100% vegetarian food, very vegan friendly, gluten-free options always available upon request, including desserts! Located behind an art gallery with entrance on the side of the building, very urban chic, and delicious!
- Avalon Bakery, 422 W Willis St, ☏ . Assorted breads, vegetarian sandwiches, cookies, muffins, coffee and espresso are served here. Located in the Cass Corridor near Wayne State. Bread is $3.25-5 a loaf.
- 2 Cass Cafe, 4620 Cass Ave, ☏ . M-F 11AM-11PM; bar until 2AM; Sa 5PM-1AM; bar until 2AM; Su 5PM-10PM; bar until midnight.. Hip restaurant, bar & art gallery in the Cass Corridor near Wayne State. Voted "Best place to take friends from New York" by the Metro Times. $5-10.
- Goldengate Café, 18700 Woodward Ave (3 blocks south of 7 Mile), ☏ . M-Tu noon-8PM, W-Th 11AM-11PM, F noon-11PM, Sa noon-9PM, Su noon-7PM. Friendly vegan cafe. Busiest nights are on Wednesday when they have a drum circle. Most entrées: $7-$9.
- 3 Traffic Jam and Snug, 511 W Canfield St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 11AM-10:30PM, F Sa 11AM-Midnight, Su 11AM-8PM. Bakery, dairy and brewery. This was one of the first brew pubs in Michigan. Has a vegetarian sandwich, vegetarian burger and vegetarian burrito.
- Roma Cafe, 3401 Riopelle (Via Roma) (at Erskine).
- Shangri-La, 4710 Cass (Cass & Forest), ☏ . Detroit's dim sum. Excellent Chinese food and sushi.
- Union Street, 4145 Woodward Ave (between Alexandrine and Willis). Very good food, great drinks.
- 4 Cuisine Restaurant (French), 670 Lothrop, Detroit (New Center area, behind the Fisher Theatre).
- David Whitney House, 4421 Woodward Avenue, ☏ . The David Whitney House was built in 1894 for one of Michigan's wealthiest citizens at the time, David Whitney. It has 52 rooms, 218 windows, 20 fireplaces, a secret vault in the dining room, and an elevator. The house has been a restaurant since 1986.
- 1 The Bronx Bar, 4476 2nd Ave (at Prentis), ☏ . Until 2AM daily. "The darkest bar on the planet." The Bronx is a dive bar by any scale, however the drinks are very effective, the pool table works and the jukebox has depth. This is a place to go to relax and knock back a few with your buddies, or to bring an ugly date you just don't want to look at. However, watch where you park your car, as the parking lot across the street is not public and they will tow your car after the businesses in the strip mall close. PBR is $1. Also, enjoy the unique experience of coming out of a bar at 2AM and blinking because it's so bright outside.
- 2 The Old Miami, 3930 Cass Ave (between Selden and Alexandrine), ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-2AM, Su noon-2AM. "Miami" is an acronym for "Missing in Action Michigan"; as such the walls in this Midtown dive bar are lined with memorabilia from the Vietnam War and other battles. War vets, bikers, punks, students, and others come here for the cheap drinks, live gigs, and the spacious backyard, which hosts some events during the summer months.
- Union Street Saloon, 4145 Woodward Ave (between Willis and Alexandrine), ☏ . M-W 11:30AM-midnight, Th 11:30AM-1AM, F 11:30AM-2AM, Sa 4PM-2AM, Su 11:30AM-8PM. Union Street’s building dates back to the early 1900s when a hardware store/auto parts store were part of a thriving Woodward Avenue. Across the street is the Garden Bowl and the Majestic Theatre built in 1918 and remains in operation. The menu is a creative fusion of American, European, and Asian inspired dishes. $5-$20.
- 3 Hopcat, 4265 Woodward Ave, ☏ . Has a wide variety of beers.
- Inn at 97 Winder, 97 Winder St, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Elegant, luxurious, Victorian mansion in downtown just two blocks from Comerica Park.
- 1 Inn on Ferry Street, 84 E Ferry St (between Woodward and John R), ☏ . A collection of luxurious Victorian bed & breakfasts lining Ferry St. in a historic district downtown. Adjacent to the world renowned Detroit Institute of Arts.
- 2 Hotel St. Regis Detroit, 3071 W Grand Blvd (between Woodward and 2nd), ☏ , fax: . Luxury hotel in stately European styled elegance, casual, old-world feel, intimate setting, urban location, fine restaurant, La Musique - Cajun steakhouse, private fitness center, in the historic New Center area with Cadillac Place, adjoins the beautiful Fisher Theatre, a National Historic Landmark, featuring Broadway shows, behind is Cuisine (French) Restaurant. Nearby are Ford Hospital, Wayne State University, Motor City Casino, and downtown.