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Detroit's Rise, Fall & RenewalGeneral Info | Photo Gallery | Traveller Feedback
On this Detroit walking tour, you'll discover the history of Detroit through its wealth of architectural landmarks. From the boom years that brought with them the Guardian building and Penobscot Building, to the bust years that saw many high-rises left abandoned, this adventure will uncover the real story of this fascinating city and look at where it’s heading today after a decade that brought new casinos, new stadiums, new restaurants and bars, and much much more.
- Visit the remarkably beautiful 1929 Guardian Building.
- See the Westin Book-Cadillac Hotel, a prime example of Detroit's rise, fall and renewal.
- Find out why the old 36-story Book Tower and other buildings are vacant.
- See how new stadiums, casinos and more have revitalized downtown Detroit in the past decade.
- Finish up (with a free locally brewed beer or a soft drink) at one of the popular new hangouts in the city.
Tour style:Local Life & Culture, History & Heritage
Fares for a ride on the People Mover, and one beer (or coffee, tea or soft drink) at Detroit Beer Company.
Tips and gratuities for your guide.
Group size:Maximum 12
- Duration: 2 hours
- Pickup location:
1515 Broadway, Detroit, MI 48226
- Pickup Time: 3.30 PM
- Drop off location:
Detroit Beer Company, 1529 Broadway, Detroit, MI 48226
Additional information :
- Voucher exchange details:
Please present your voucher to the local guide at the beginning of the trip.
- Confirmation of booking:
Please contact Detroit Urban Adventures to confirm your trip 24 hours prior to departure.
- Additional information:
On the occasional day when a steady heavy rain might dampen the mood on a walking tour, we will start from the same location but we will stay dry by substituting a tour of downtown Detroit that relies on riding the People Mover.
- Dress standard:
Dress casually and comfortably. Wear shoes that are good for a fair amount of walking. Depending on weather, you may want to have a jacket, hat or an umbrella.
- Child policy:
Children must be between 6 and 11 years of age inclusive. Children below the age of 6 are not permitted on this day tour in the city.
- Language: English
Start this Detroit city tour from a nice cafe at 1515 Broadway. You may want to get there early and purchase a coffee, tea, espresso, cold drink, or something to eat.
When we leave 1515 Broadway, you will see the 95-year-old Detroit Athletic Club, the renovated Opera House, the vacant Wurlitzer Building, and the fine new downtown YMCA.
Continuing on the half day tour in Detroit see the site where one of the biggest department stores in the US once stood -- Hudson's or JL Hudson's. When it closed in the 1980s is left a hole in the city that hasn't been filled. There are not many stores in the old retail district, but apartments and lofts have brought some new life to the area.
Next, the Compuware Building from 2002 is worth a visit, for its 15-story atrium and colorful fountain. And outside that building, you'll see a panorama that includes landmarks like the 47-story Penobscot Building from 1928, the Guardian Building from 1929 and the Renaissance Center from 1977 -- which has the tallest hotel in the entire Western Hemisphere (72 floors) as well as the headquarters of General Motors.
Then you'll see Campus Martius Park in the heart of downtown, which opened in 2004 and features an ice-skating rink in winter and activities year-round. It won a recent award as the nation's most transformative urban park.
A visit to the Guardian Building emphasizes the greatness of Detroit in the late 1920s. The lobby and banking room of this art-deco skyscraper are truly incredible.
Then we take a ride on the elevated People Mover, which has been moving people around downtown Detroit since 1987.
From the Michigan Avenue station, see the $800 Million MGM Grand casino and hotel that were completed in 2008, and the new Rosa Parks Transit Center (named for "the mother of the Civil Rights Movement") with its dramatic canopies.
If the weather is nice, we will walk to the Westin Book-Cadillac Hotel. It's a great example of Detroit's rise, fall and renewal. When it opened in 1924 it was the tallest hotel in the world and one of the fanciest. But it closed in the 1980s and stood vacant for more than 25 years on a prominent street corner. Detroiters were thrilled when it reopened after a $200 Million renovation as the wonderful Westin Book-Cadillac.
A block down from the renovated Westin Book-Cadillac is the stately old 36-story Book Tower from 1926, which is vacant. It is one of the world's tallest vacant buildings, and it awaits a new life, probably as apartments -- when the economy improves.
Next, we visit the area near Grand Circus Park, which is full of examples of Detroit's rise, fall and renewal. There is the vacant 34-story Broderick Tower and other vacant buildings. There is the Kales Building from 1914, which had been vacant for years before it came back to life as apartments in 2004. There is the fabulous Fox Theater which anchored the theater district starting in the late 1920s and was beautifully restored in the 1980s.
It was Comerica Park and Ford Field that really brought this part of downtown Detroit back to life. Comerica Park was completed in 2000. It is the home of the Detroit Tigers baseball team and the site of concerts by performers like Bruce Springsteen and Detroit's own Eminem and Kid Rock. Ford Field was completed in 2003 for $500 Million. It is the home of the Detroit Lions, and it brought events like Super Bowl XL and the NCAA Final Four to downtown Detroit. And all sorts of great bars and restaurants have opened in the area after the opening of Comerica Park and Ford Field.
After the Grand Circus Park area, we visit a local brewpub that opened in 2003, where you can enjoy a complimentary beer at the end of the tour (21 and over with proper ID) or a soft drink. The Detroit Beer Company brews some great beer, has a lot of great food, and has become a popular downtown hangout. They even have half-priced appetizers (but not on the weekends) if you order before 6 pm. So it's a great place to end our Detroit walking tour.
Want to check out what other travellers think of their Urban Adventure experience? See below for our traveller feedback.
- Your overall experience ...................................................................................... 5.00
- Your guide’s enthusiasm, local knowledge and communication skills........................................................................................................................ 5.00
The level of opportunity to learn more about the culture, interact
with locals, and experience their way of life......................................................5.00
The Responsible Travel philosophy implemented on your
Urban Adventure................................................................................................... 5.00
- Did the trip match your expectations?.............................................................. 5.00
Ms. Michele P.
Canada ~ 22 May 2013[back to top]
For our first visit in Detroit with only two nights booked - our family of four took the Rise-Fall-Renewal tour with Bob in order to learn as much as we could about the city. I liked the fact that Bob goes beyond the city's usual portrayal of crime, poverty and ruin and focuses on the positive changes seen over the last decade. For anyone interested in architecture, urban planning or the encapsulated history of a once great American metropolis - this tour is perfect.
Would love to see bike tours of the downtown area. The lack of vehicular traffic on week-ends makes it an ideal place to ride.
Mr. Robert J.
USA ~ 24 Apr 2013[back to top]
As an architect and planner, I really enjoyed Bob's knowledge about the history of the buildings. The fact that he was a resident of downtown Detroit made it all the more interesting.
Mrs. Kimberly M.
USA ~ 17 Apr 2013[back to top]
Never having visited Detroit, I had no idea where to start so I booked the tour. Bob is very personable and knowledgable. We had a wonderful time and I would suggest the tour to anyone visiting Detroit.
Mr. James O.
Canada ~ 25 Aug 2012[back to top]
This trip is an excellent starting point to a visit to Detroit. Bob showed us the urban history of Detroit written in the ruins and renovations of the downtown area. Finishing with a trip on the People Mover and a beer in the local pub made us feel like we were at home in Detroit! Bob gives a very fair and balanced picture of Detroit life - he doesn't try to hide problems in the modern Detroit situation, and he explains all the opportunities. If you are at all interested in urban design, this tour is a must.
We asked Bob at the end of the trip if he would run for public office: with his knowledge and his love for the city, he'd be a great mayor!
Thanks for a great tour.
Mr. Eric D.
USA ~ 19 Jul 2012[back to top]
Bob the tourguide is AWESOME.
He knows his stuff, and is extremely passionate about the city of Detroit. He integrates a wide range of information about culture, heritage and history of Detroit in his tour. He engaged well in dialogue and employed good sense of humor.
Well worth the money.
Mr. chris d.
USA ~ 11 Jun 2012[back to top]
Bob was great very focused and neutral about the circumstances that brought Detroit to its current condition. Plus he lives right there. Brave man!
Mr. Aaron M.
United Kingdom ~ 31 Mar 2012[back to top]
Bob was a great guide, we had a really good time. Detroit really is a fascinating place. If your anywhere near Detroit then do this tour.
For your Urban Adventure you will be in a small group of a maximum of 12 people.
If you are happy with the services provided by your local guides and drivers a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid Urban Adventures destinations. Please consider this when budgeting for your extra expenses on this tour
- Cancellations made more than 2 days prior to travel receive a full refund
- Cancellations made 2 days or less prior to travel attract a 100% cancellation fee.
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Wherever we go in the world, we take a responsible attitude with us. That means travelling in a way which both respects and benefits local people, their culture, their economy, and their environment. Please read on for more information on our Responsible Travel policy and how you can be a responsible traveller for your entire journey.