Those of us who live in the Motor City are undoubtedly familiar with our hometown’s ample wonders, from its resilient spirit to the many restaurants and attractions that set it apart. Among non-locals, though, Detroit doesn’t always receive the credit it deserves for its role in many historical events and well-loved creations. Here are nine inventions and innovations that the world should thank Detroit for.
Every Detroiter is familiar with Vernors, the beloved ginger ale brand that soothes our stomachaches and satisfies our cravings when we sip on a Vernors float. This Michigan classic was invented by Detroit pharmacist James Vernor, who operated a drug store on Woodward Avenue, back in 1886. It’s now known as the oldest surviving ginger soda brand in the United States.
This one is a no-brainer: the roots of Motown music are proudly situated here in Detroit. The famous Motown Sound emerged during the early 1960s and grew to be a staple in the music industry, with Berry Gordy’s record company helping jumpstart the careers of icons like Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross. Today, Detroiters and tourists alike can learn more by checking out the Motown Museum.
3. Radio news programming
Today, sports broadcasting and traditional radio news programs are staples of our media landscape - but did you know that this format originated in the Motor City? That’s right: in 1920, radio station WWJ (then known as 8MK) broadcast a report from the Detroit News building, setting the stage for a new era of information.
4. Road lines
Did you know that road lines separating traffic weren’t invented until the early 20th century? They might seem like a no-brainer now, but they didn’t come about until 1911 when Wayne County Road Commissioner Edward Hines proposed their implementation here in Metro Detroit. Thanks, Mr. Hines!
5. Detroit-style pizza
Chicago deep dish and New York thin crust pizza options have their merits, but Motor City residents are partial to Detroit-style pie. Why? There’s just something so wonderful about those crispy corners and square slices — and it doesn’t hurt to know that this fantastic pizza format was invented right here in 1946 at the original Buddy’s Pizza location.
This is a newer invention, but we think it’s tons of fun — and we won’t be surprised if it continues to spread in popularity throughout the country. The game involves throwing a football at an arrangement of bowling pins and was founded in 2001 by Detroiter Chris Hutt. Today, players can visit fowling warehouses to express their admiration for this unique game.
7. Three-color traffic lights
It’s hard to imagine safely traversing the streets without the security of standard traffic lights, but the modern three-color light wasn’t used widely until its invention by Detroit police officer William Potts in 1920. While two-color lights had existed previously, this Detroit creation added to drivers’ safety on the road.
8. The Last Word cocktail
We Detroiters enjoy a good party from time to time, and no party is complete without a few delicious beverages. One classic Detroit drink, the Last Word, originated during the Prohibition era at the Detroit Athletic Club. The drink consists of gin, lime juice, maraschino liqueur, and green Chartreuse.
9. The modern assembly line
We’d be hard-pressed not to include Detroit’s most famous invention on this list. After all, our city is synonymous with the birth of the modern automotive industry, and this includes the creation of Henry Ford’s assembly line. The moving assembly line first appeared at Ford’s Highland Park Plant in 1910 and has become a standard for wide-scale production efforts across the globe.
Are there any other Detroit-based inventions that we should have included on our list? We love to share Detroit pride with our readers, so drop us a line in the comment section below or provide more details by filling out our nomination form
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