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25 Things You Should Know About Detroit

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You know about the cars—and that Eminem grew up on Eight Mile. But there’s plenty more to learn about Michigan’s most populous city.

1. It’s dubbed the Motor City for a reason. Detroit was home to the first mile of concrete highway, the first four-way three-color traffic light, and the world’s first urban freeway.

2. It’s also the site of the Detroit Windsor Tunnel, the first traffic tunnel between two nations. Hi, Canada!

3. To get to the D, some Canadians drive north. It’s the only major city in America north of Canada. Crazy, eh?

4. They can also use the Ambassador Bridge, which links Windsor and Detroit. It’s the busiest single border crossing in North America.

 


5
. Detroiters like their spirits. During Prohibition it’s estimated some 75 percent of illegal liquor supplied to the U.S. was smuggled through the city’s waterways.

6. Detroit, a.k.a. the Paris of the Midwest, also boasts the nation’s oldest soda: Vernor’s ginger ale.

7. Legend has it that the refreshment was created by accident. Detroit pharmacist James Vernor crafted a new drink, and then was called to serve in the Civil War in 1862. He stored the beverage in an oak cask—when he came back he learned the keg had transformed it.

8. Mixing the popular sip with vanilla ice cream makes a Boston Cooler—a drink named for a Boulevard in Detroit, not the Massachusetts city. 

9. Detroit’s 987-acre Belle Isle Park—which has a golf course, museum, basketball courts, and baseball fields—is the largest island park in the United States.

 

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10
. The 313 is a bit salty—1,200 feet underneath Detroit there are 1,400 acres of salt mines. Operated by the Detroit Salt Company, the mine contains more than 100 miles of road.

11. The city also ranks first in the nation in potato chip consumption per capita.

12. In 1959 Berry Gordy Jr. developed a little outfit called Motown Records in the city. Are you a fan of Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross or Stevie Wonder? You’re welcome.

13. A few other musicians call the Detroit area home. See: Madonna, Aretha Franklin, Kid Rock, Aaliyah, The White Stripes and, yes, Eminem.

 

Aretha Franklin, 1968 // Getty

14. The city has also been cited as the birthplace of techno music.

15. And its theater district is the second largest in the country—bested only by New York City.

16. Detroit’s J.W. Westcott is America’s only floating zip code. The boat, docked on the Detroit River, delivers mail to other vessels in the area.

17. The D is also home to WWJ (formerly 8MK), thought to be the first radio station to broadcast regular news reports. It went on air in 1920.

18. In 1899 Sebastian S. Kresge opened a five-and-ten-cent store on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue. He later went on to open a small shop he dubbed K Mart.

19. The 72-floor Marriott at the Renaissance Center in Detroit is the tallest hotel in North America. When it opened in 1977, it was the tallest in the world.

 

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20. But it may never house fans of the Olympics. The city has made seven unsuccessful bids for the summer games —the most by any city in the world never to host the event.

21. Sorry, Journey fans, there is no such thing as South Detroit. When Steve Perry was penning “Don’t Stop Believin’” he just thought it sounded good.

22. You can bowl Detroiters over. The city has the most registered bowlers anywhere in the United States.

23. Really, they’re just big on fun and games. Home to the Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings and Lions, Detroit was also the site of the country’s first national billiards championship in 1859.

 

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24. It was once home to the world’s largest stove. But the 15-ton oak stove replica was destroyed in a 2011 fire.

25. The official motto of Detroit: Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus, which is Latin for “We hope for better things; it shall rise from the ashes.”

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Tokyo Tops List of Safest Cities in the World, New Report Says
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When choosing a city to call home, some might weigh factors like affordability, potential for job growth, and even the number of bookstores and libraries. But for many aspiring urbanites, safety is a top concern. This list of the world’s safest cities from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) proves you don’t need to trade your sense of welfare for the hustle and bustle of city life—especially if you're headed to Tokyo.

As Quartz reports, the EIU assessed the overall safety of 60 major cities using categories like health safety, infrastructure safety, personal safety, and the cybersecurity of smart city technology. With an overall score in 89.80 out of 100 points, Tokyo is the 2017 Safe Cities Index's highest-ranking city for the third year in a row.

While it was rated in the top five places for cybersecurity, health security, and personal security, Tokyo's No. 12 spot in the infrastructure security category kept it from receiving an even higher score. The next two spots on the EIU list also belong to East Asian cities, with Singapore snagging second place with a score of 89.64 and Osaka coming in third with 88.67. Toronto and Melbourne round out the top five. View more from the list below.

1. Tokyo
2. Singapore
3. Osaka
4. Toronto
5. Melbourne
6. Amsterdam
7. Sydney
8. Stockholm
9. Hong Kong
10. Zurich

You may have noticed that no U.S. cities broke into the top 10. The best-rated American metropolis is San Francisco, which came in 15th place with a score of 83.55. Meanwhile, New York, which used to hold the No. 10 slot, fell to No. 21 this year. The report blames the U.S.'s poor performance in part on America's aging infrastructure, which regularly receives failing grades from reports like these due to lack of maintenance and upgrades.

Surprised by your city's rank? For an idea of how other countries view the U.S. in terms of safety, check out this list of travel warnings to foreign visitors.

[h/t Quartz]

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In 1909, a Door-to-Door Catnip Salesman Incited a Riot in New York
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In 1909, New York City businessman G. Herman Gottlieb was looking for a way to make a quick buck. He found it in a wooded section of Northern Manhattan, where wild catnip grew. After harvesting two baskets full of the plant, Gottlieb headed downtown to Harlem, intending to sell the product to residents with pampered felines.

As the history blog The Hatching Cat recounts, what Gottlieb didn’t know was that the neighborhood was also home to plenty of feral cats with voracious appetites. As Gottlieb made his way around the neighborhood, a handful of stray cats seized upon some leaves that had fallen out of his basket and began writhing and rolling around on the ground. Soon, even more kitties joined in, and “jumped up at his baskets, rubbed themselves against his legs, mewing, purring, and saying complimentary things about him,” according to an August 19, 1909 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Gottlieb tried to frighten the cats away, according to The Washington Times’s account of the event, but the persistent animals wouldn’t budge. “All of them, rich and poor, aristocrats from the sofa cushions near the front windows and thin plebians from the areaways struggled mightily to get into the two baskets of catnip,” the Times wrote. Soon, Gottlieb found himself surrounded by somewhere between 30 and 40 cats, each one of them clamoring for his goods.

When he eventually spotted a policeman, Gottlieb thought he’d found an ally against the cats. Instead, Sergeant John F. Higgins promptly arrested Gottlieb for inciting a crowd. (“Why don’t you arrest the catnip?” Gottlieb asked him, according to the Times. “That is collecting the crowd. Not I.”)

Trailed by several cats, Higgins and Gottlieb made their way to a police station on East 104th Street. But when they arrived, authorities couldn’t decide whether or not the salesman had actually broken any laws.

“We can’t hold this man,” Lieutenant Lasky, the officer who received the arrest report, said. “The law says a man must not cause a crowd of people to collect. The law doesn’t say anything about cats.”

“The law doesn’t say anything about people,” Higgins replied. “It says ‘a crowd.’ A crowd of cats is certainly a crowd.” Amid this debate, a station cat named Pete began fighting with the invading felines, and, with the help of some policemen, eventually drove the catnip-hungry kitties out of the building.

Gottlieb was eventually released, and even driven home in a patrol wagon—all while being chased by a few lingering cats, still hot on the trail of his now regrettable merchandise.

[h/t The Hatching Cat]

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