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Amazing Architecture | Detroit Attractions

Amazing Architecture

Detroit has so many examples of amazing architecture that stand tall and grand. Some are even designated National Historic Landmarks. Look up, look around, even look down and be wowed.

Architectural masterpieces include:

The Penobscot Building
Named in honor of the Penobscot, a Native American tribe from Maine, this art deco masterpiece was built in 1928 in the heart of the Financial District and features Native American motifs. Don’t miss its four-story arched entrance on Griswold Street. (DD)

Guardian Building
Art deco architecture at its finest, the Guardian Building was once promoted as “the Cathedral of Finance.” Blending Native American, Aztec and Arts and Crafts styles, 40 artisans created the building’s many painted murals and ceilings, mosaics, marble fixtures, tiles and other artistic details. (DD)

Fisher Building
This landmark skyscraper in the New Center area is constructed of limestone, granite and marble and was designed by Albert Kahn Associates. Finished in 1928, it’s considered Detroit’s largest art object and is home to the iconic Fisher Theatre. (DD)

Other architectural notables:

Fox Theatre
Classic and lavish, one of the last surviving movie palaces of the 1920s. (DD)

The GM Renaissance Center
This impressive grouping of seven interconnected tall towers is a centerpiece of the Detroit riverfront. Designed by architect John Portman, who also imagined the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, the “Ren Cen” is featured in dozens of movies — This is Spinal Tap, Breathless, Hancock — and TV series. (DD)

The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel
An underwater-constructed wonder that’s also an international roadway connecting the U.S. and Canada. The equally impressive Ambassador Bridge (ambassadorbridge.com) is the world’s largest international suspension bridge and connects the two countries by skyway. (DD)

Meadow Brook Hall
This former auto baron’s home was recently designated a National Historic Landmark. (O)

Edsel & Eleanor Ford House
Wander 87 acres of sumptuous gardens or tour the inner workings of this 60-room Cotswald mansion. (M)

The Henry Ford
See early homesteads, cottages, farms and shops in Greenfield Village and/or experience the utter architectural awe of a manufacturing plant at its productive best during the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. (DW)

Lafayette Park
With 26 buildings, this community is the largest collection of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s work. (DD)

Westin Book Cadillac
Recently returned to its former glory and now a hotel, look up at copper-covered roof elements and the sculptures of notable figures from Detroit’s history — General Anthony Wayne, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, Chief Pontiac and Robert Navarre along the ornate Michigan Avenue façade. By Louis Kemper in the Neo-Renaissance style. (DD)

One Detroit Center
Admire the spires of this post-modern Neo-Gothic style, which has the distinction of being the tallest office building in the state. (DD)

They may be vacant, but they are still amazing:

Book Tower and adjacent Book Building
Italian Renaissance style built in 1917. A copper roof and outside fire escape make this towering ruin distinctive. (DD)

Michigan Central Station
Built in 1913 by Warren and Wetmore and Reed and Stem in the Beaux-Arts style. Popular location for Michigan’s film industry. (DD)

Wayne County Building
A beautifully ornate example of Beaux-Arts architecture, 1897-1902. (DD)

Architecturally stunning houses of worship include:

First Congregational Church of Detroit
A powerful combination of Romanesque and Byzantine architecture. (DD)

Mariners’ Church
This Gothic-inspired church was founded in 1842. Singer Gordon Lightfoot mentions this place of worship in his tribute song to the sunken Edmund Fitzgerald and once played the famous tune for parishioners during a memorial honoring the sailors lost in the Great Lakes tragedy. (DD)

Saint Florian Roman Catholic Church
Designed by Ralph Adams Cram to serve the area’s Polish community. (DD)

Read more about historic Detroit churches and learn about church tours here.

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Travel Tip

"My favorite place to exercise is at the Dequindre cut bike trail. It stretches from Gratiot to the riverfront ... you can rent a bike for a few hours at the riverfront. Let the wind blow in your hair. ;)"
~Jay D. -Travel Mentor

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