Self-Guided Architecture Tour
Detroit is a fascinating landscape for architecture aficionados, and arguably one of the main draws of the city. But regardless of why you find yourself in Detroit, you don’t have to go out of your way to get a taste of the striking diversity of buildings here—you’ll naturally come across many of the highlights (as well as the notorious ruins) just as you get around town. This is particularly true of Downtown Detroit, which has some of the country’s coolest skyscrapers. Beyond skyscrapers, though, walking around Downtown, you’ll quickly appreciate the range that is packed into this dense area. (It’s pretty crazy, for one, that the opera house is right next to both Comerica Park, home of the Tigers, and the Detroit Lions’s Ford Field.) The big Art Deco treasure downtown is the Guardian Building, which was completed in 1929 for the banking group, Union Trust Company (which was saved when the market crashed that year). The brick-granite exterior is impressive but do go inside the lobby and up the stairs to the long banking hall (the vaulted ceiling, mural-, mosaic-, and tile-work is likewise stunning). Other notable buildings in the area include: David Whitney (underwent a big renovation recently to return to its Beaux Arts glory), Book Cadillac, and the Roman Baroque former Wayne County Building. North of Downtown, in New Center, go to the Fisher Building on Grand Boulevard—another towering Art Deco masterpiece, this one by architect Albert Kahn, whose work you’ll see throughout Detroit, and who was commissioned in this instance by the auto body Fisher brothers. While you’re in New Center, walk the idyllic pedestrian-only stretch of Pallister Avenue west of John C. Lodge Freeway (M-10).