“Detroit is it” for a rich timeline of historic events and hardships that the city where it is today. Detroit firsts are special because they provide us with many reasons to look back with respect and literally pave the way toward a brighter future that attracts positive global attention. Did you know Detroit is home to the first paved road? Whether you call it the Motor City or Motown for its music advancements, there is soul radiating from the art-filled streets.
Detroitisit collected a well-rounded list of Detroit firsts to be impressed by and share with everyone you know!
FIRST MILE OF CONCRETE PAVEMENT
Starting off this diverse list of Detroit firsts is something that came before the booming automobile industry…paved streets. Detroit A.K.A The Motor City is known as America’s automotive industry. The innovation kept it moving with the first mile of concrete that was made in the city. More specifically, the first construction of concrete began on Woodward Avenue in Detroit.
FIRST VEHICLE ASSEMBLY LINE
It’s a fitting fact that the first automotive assembly line was developed in 1913 by none other than Henry Ford. Henry Ford’s Highland Park plant was new at the time and it was designed by Detroit architect Albert Kahn. It was here that Henry thought up the idea when he realized this labor involving the car parts would speed up the production.
FIRST VAN GOGH PAINTING TO BE PART OF A MUSEUM COLLECTION
It’s 2023 and Van Gogh’s art has come full circle in the heart of Detroit. The Detroit Institute of Art continues to be a national treasure with astounding collections. There’s something extra magical knowing the fact that it holds the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum collection. The locals and visitors enjoyed a completely contemporary viewing of Van Gogh’s life and art through the recent Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience (now closed), which was part of the Van Gogh in America exhibition, a wider celebration of the 100th anniversary of the historic acquisition.
THE FIRST TRI-COLOR,-4-WAY TRAFFIC LIGHT
Detroit firsts are worth digging into. There are many to discover beyond this list! Detroitisit had to include the fact that the first tri-color, the 4-way traffic light was invented in Detroit more than 100 years ago. This traffic signal was installed at Woodward Avenue and Fort Street in Detroit in 1920. Railroads were already using three lights, so it was only a matter of time before the concept spread.
HOME TO THE FIRST NATIONAL AFRICAN-AMERICAN BOXING LEGEND
From Amateur to Black hero, legendary boxer Joe Louis reached national hero status, which was a first for any U.S. African American. Louis had Alabama roots, but his family moved to Detroit in 1926, which would take him to fame. It was in Detroit that Louis rose to fame as a boxer to contend with. Joe Louis competed as a professional boxer from 1934 to 1951. Nicknamed Brown Bomber, he held the world heavyweight championship from 1937 to 1949. His powerful presence was a breakthrough for the lack of diversity in sports. His impact lived on through the Joe Louis Arena up until around 2017, a sports venue home to the Detroit Red Wings.
TECHNO MUSIC WAS BIRTHED IN DETROIT
Detroit is home to a heaping of Motown music legends and hip-hop stars, but did you know that Detroit techno started here when three high school friends founded the genre in a garage here in the late 1980s? True techno fans will know that Detroit annually hosts Movement Detroit, the world’s largest outdoor electronica festival. The music scene in Detroit marches to its own beat just like the residents. Over the years, it’s taken on a new sound. Who knows what other magical beats will be created?
DETROIT’S BELLE ISLE PARK IS THE LARGEST U.S. URBAN PARK
This list of Detroit firsts wouldn’t be complete without showing love to Belle Isle Park and all its abundance. With nearly 1,000 acres, there are an additional 150 acres of protected woodlands. Explore the golf course, museum, nature zoo, conservatory, and sports fields. It was opened in the 1880s as Detroit’s first city park. Visit the park throughout the seasons for some fun in nature. It was designed by Frederick Olmstead, the architect of Central Park in New York City.
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