Detroit is one of the most famous cities in the world, for better or for worse. While we’re proud of the many positive thoughts non-Detroiters have about our hometown, we’re also well aware that some assumptions about the Motor City are less than flattering. Here are 11 things that frequently come to mind when Detroit is brought up as a topic of conversation.
For the last time, no: we don’t all live on 8 Mile, and we certainly aren’t all close personal friends with Eminem. If we had a dollar for every Eminem reference we’ve heard after mentioning that we’re from Detroit, we’d certainly be rich. While we’re proud to call the rapper our own, he’s just one small part of Detroit’s lasting legacy.
2. Abandoned Buildings
Unfortunately, many people are quick to jump to negative thoughts when Detroit comes up in conversation. Yes, we’ll admit that our city’s financial woes have left us with plenty of abandoned buildings and social struggles. But empty houses and crumbling train stations, though they do exist here, will never represent our city in its entirety.
3. Motown Music
We’re endlessly proud of this one. Detroit is the birthplace of Motown sound, and our streets have given rise to some of the most iconic musical artists of all time. If you’re a fan of Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Aretha Franklin, or even the Jackson 5, you can thank Detroit!
They don’t call us the Motor City for nothing. Our "Big Three" automakers have long stood as symbols of Detroit, regardless of our ups and downs throughout the years. When you think about well-made American cars, we hope your mind immediately jumps to our beloved Detroit.
Our proximity to Canada is no secret, though non-Detroiters are sometimes shocked to realize that we truly can see Ontario from our office buildings. Nevertheless, most people know that Detroit is a gateway to Canada, and the Ambassador Bridge is one of our proudest landmarks. Hop on over to Windsor for a day and see why we’re so grateful for our international neighbors.
6. "South Detroit"
Sigh. For the thousandth time, "South Detroit" is not a real region of the Motor City, no matter what you’ve heard in Journey’s "Don’t Stop Believing." Tourists often come to the city hoping to explore the place that brought this iconic lyric to life, only to realize that they’ve been deceived. We hate to break it to you, non-Detroiters, but "South Detroit" places you smack dab in the middle of the Detroit River.
7. The Detroit Lions
Oh, the Lions: our shame and our pride, all at once. We’re well-accustomed to the pain and disappointment of watching our boys in blue play, knowing full well that they’ve never made a Super Bowl appearance. While we don’t always enjoy the rude comments we get from non-Lions fans, we’ll continue to stand by our team.
8. Our less embarrassing sports teams...
On the other hand, we’re also known for our slightly less humiliating sports teams, such as the Tigers and the Red Wings. We’ve seen that Stanley Cup plenty of times, and we know that we’re a force to be reckoned with when it comes to non-football sports. This almost makes the pain of seeing the Lions repeatedly lose on national television a bit less intense.
9. Cold Winters
We’re sure you’ve heard the saying: "It’s so cold in the D." We have to admit that the lyrics ring true. Here in Detroit, wintertime is no joke, and most of us have invested in plenty of layers to carry us through the sub-zero wind chills. Snow, ice, gray skies, and plenty of freezing temperatures are just par for the course here in the Motor City.
10. Coney Dogs
We couldn’t be more proud of our status as the birthplace of coney dogs. Other states and cities can try to reproduce them, but there’s nothing like an original from Lafayette or American Coney Island. Just be forewarned: if you’re caught putting ketchup on your coney here in the Motor City, you’ll quickly be met with disapproving glances from locals.
Perhaps this is wishful thinking, but we hope outsiders look at our city with a sense of admiration and respect. We continue to rebuild each and every day, battling seemingly endless negative stereotypes, lackluster media coverage, and all sorts of social woes. Our city is far from perfect, but our residents never give up — and this is undoubtedly our strongest point of pride.
Tell us, fellow Detroiters: are there any other assumptions or immediate thoughts that come to mind when your non-Detroit friends mention the Motor City? Share your insights with us in the comments below!