Detroit International Riverfront: Wikis


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Detroit International Riverfront includes pavilion parkland like Rivard Plaza and its Merry-Go-Round.

The Detroit International Riverfront is an area so designated by the nonprofit city sponsored managing entity, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization.[1] The conservancy resulted from a study commissioned by former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. The International Riverfront area ranges from the Ambassador Bridge to Belle Isle in downtown Detroit, Michigan encompassing a multitude of parks, restaurants, retail shops, skyscrapers, and high rise residential areas along the Detroit River. The comprehensive project has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to develop and manage the riverfront which has complemented the architecture and urban development of Detroit.[1] The Marriott at the Renaissance Center and the Omni Hotel at Riverplace face the International Riverfront. The area features a variety of annual events and festivals including the North American International Auto Show.



Detroit International Riverfront

The Detroit International Riverfront, a comprehensive project led by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, marks a step forward for the Metro Detroit region's potential competition for the 2020 Summer Olympics. The east riverfront promenade development was planned at $559 million, including $135 million from GM and $50 million from the Kresge foundation.[2] In June 2007, the Riverfront Conservancy announced the completion of 75 percent of the east RiverWalk. The east and west riverfront projects together comprise a 5½-mile (8.8 kilometer) section of downtown from the Ambassador Bridge to Belle Isle bridge linking the cruise ship dock area to a series of parks, venues, hotels, residential high rises, retail shops, and restaurants.[1] Belle Isle Park is the city's 972-acre (393 ha) island park.

Detroit has made the Summer Olympic Games' final bidding election more often than any other ultimately unsuccessful bid city, participating in IOC elections for the 1944 (3rd place, behind bid winner London), 1952 (5th place), 1956 (4th place), 1960 (3rd place), 1964 (2nd place), 1968 (2nd place) and 1972 (4th place) Games. (Los Angeles has more total bids with 9, but hosted twice) If accepted as the U.S. candidate by USOC, this would be the city's eighth bid. Lower crime figures as of 2007 bring hope to a possible revitalization of the city by the early 2010s, which would be improve Detroit's prospects for the USOC competition. Soft-drink manufacturer Faygo has stepped up its efforts as major sponsor. Successful events such as Super Bowl XL have showcased Detroit as a city accustomed to hosting supersized crowds.[3]

In addition, there is the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge which is the only international wildlife preserve in North America, uniquely located in the heart of a major metropolitan area. The Refuge includes islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals, and waterfront lands along 48 miles (77 km) of the Detroit River and Western Lake Erie shoreline.


Detroit River Walk

Detroit River Walk
The riverfront walk cobblestone path from the Renaissance Center looking downriver
Type Municipal (City of Detroit)
Location Detroit
Opened 2007
Riverfront signage

The Detroit RiverWalk is a 5½-mile (8.8 km) promenade along the Detroit International Riverfront running from the Ambassador Bridge to Belle Isle. The path is located directly on the river, sometimes bridging it. The path is 62 feet (18¾ m) wide in most places, with separate lanes for pedestrian and wheeled (such as bicycles or inline skate) traffic. Pavilions, fishing piers and benches are located at intervals along the path.[1]

The east RiverWalk connects various riverfront developments, including Hart Plaza, the Renaissance Center, GM Plaza and Promenade, Tri-Centennial State Park, Stroh River Place, Chene Park, and Gabriel Richard Park. The RiverWalk is designed to supplement new retail and residential development. Architect Eric J. Hill aided in its design.[1]

The first 3.5 miles (5.6 km) of continuous RiverWalk and two of the four planned pavilions opened to the public on June 6, 2007. Rivard Plaza located at the foot of Rivard Street features a covered seating, a carousel, conecessions and bike rentals. Richard Plaza located in Gabriel Richard Park features covered seating, conessions and a butterfly garden. The west RiverWalk development is not expected to be completed before 2012. It will eventually connect to River Rouge in the southwest side.[1]

Hart Plaza and the Dock of Detroit

Tall ships occasionally dock in Detroit.
Hart Plaza
Detroit skyline at Hart Plaza

Philip A. Hart Plaza is an open, mostly hard-surfaced park in downtown Detroit, Michigan, along the Detroit River. It is located more or less on the site at which Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac landed in 1701 when he founded Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit, the settlement that became Detroit. In 2009, the Detroit-Wayne County Port Authority opened its new cruise ship passenger terminal and dock at Hart Plaza, adjacent to the Renaissance Center.[4]

Lying immediately south of the intersection of Woodward and Jefferson Avenues, it is the focal point for festivals and public demonstrations of all kinds. The 14 acres (5.7 ha) plaza, which is named for the late U.S. Senator Philip Hart, opened in 1975 and has a capacity of 40,000 people. At the center of the plaza is the Horace E. Dodge and Son Memorial Fountain, designed by Isamu Noguchi and Walter Budd in 1978. [1]

GM Plaza and Promenade

The Renaissance Center on the Detroit International Riverfront.

The Renaissance Center, nicknamed the RenCen, is a group of seven interconnected skyscrapers in Detroit, Michigan, and the tallest building in Michigan since 1977. Located on the Detroit International Riverfront, the entire Renaissance Center complex is owned by General Motors Corporation as its world headquarters. The central tower is occupied by the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, the tallest all-hotel skyscaper in the Western Hemisphere with the largest rooftop restaurant, called Coach Insignia. The complex contains many restaurants, a variety of shops, and the vehicle display known as GM World. GM donated its portion of the plaza and promenade to the Riverfront Conservancy upon completion. A cruise-ship passenger terminal stands on Hart Plaza, adjacent to the Renaissance Center.

William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor
Type State (Michigan)
Location Detroit
Size 31 acres
Opened 2007
Operated by Michigan Department of Natural Resources

In 2003, General Motors completed a $500 million renovation of the Renaissance Center for its world headquarters which it had purchased in 1996. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Gensler, the Smith Group, and Ghafari Associates were among the architects for the renovation. The majority of the construction operations were led by Turner Construction Company. The renovation included the addition of a five-story Wintergarden which provides access to the Detroit International Riverfront. [5]

Work continued in and around the complex until 2005. The Renaissance Center totals 5.5 million square feet (511,000 m²), making it one of the world's largest office complexes.

William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor

William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor (formerly Tri-Centennial State Park and Harbor) is a state park in Michigan, and the only state park located in an urban area. The park consist of the former city-owned St. Aubin Park and Marina. Located just east of downtown Detroit in the Near-East Riverfront, it covers 31 acres (12.5 ha) on the Detroit River, and includes a 52-slip harbor of refuge. A 63-foot (19 m) conical brick light tower marks the harbor entrance. The park's first phase opened in 2003, included refurbishing of the marina and construction of lighthouse. Construction on the second phase, adjacent to Rivard Plaza, to expand the park started in summer 2008 and was completed in summer 2009. In fall 2009, the state park was renamed in honor of former Michigan Governor William G. Milliken.

Chene Park

Chene Park
Chene Park amphitheatre
Type Municipal (City of Detroit)
Location Detroit
42°20′1.89″N 83°1′17.14″W / 42.3338583°N 83.0214278°W / 42.3338583; -83.0214278

Chene Park is located on the near east side of Detroit, Michigan, at the foot of Chene Street, along the banks of the Detroit River. Located just east of Tri-Centennial State Park and Harbor, it contains a 6,000-seat amphitheater where concerts are regularly scheduled every summer. Jazz, Classic Soul and Rhythm and Blues acts are the staples of the season. The park also includes park trails, the Chene Park Fountain, and the Lake Lounge bar.

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy has connected the park to the Renaissance Center along a riverside promenade.

The park's address is 2600 Atwater Street, Detroit, MI, 48207.

Dequindre Cut Greenway

Dequindre Cut Greenway looking north.

Dequindre Cut Greenway is a non-motorized trail planned to extend from the Detroit River northward, with the future potential to connect to the Ferndale-Birmingham greenway in Oakland County. The mile (1.6 km) long trail will primarily connect the Lafayette Park neighborhood and Eastern Market to the Riverwalk . The greenway utilizes half of the corridor, with a 20-foot (6.1 m) wide paved path with separate lanes for biking and walking. The landscape anticipates future transit.[1]

Construction of Phase I of the Dequindre Cut Greenway, extends from the River one mile north to Gratiot Avenue, is complete. Funded by MDOT’s Transportation Enhancement Program and the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, this portion of the Greenway sets the template for future phases and includes a 20-foot bituminous path; access ramps for bicyclists, pedestrians and emergency vehicles; landscaping; lighting; signage and security cameras. The first phase of the trail officially opened May 14, 2009 with an opening ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Woodbridge Street entrance of the greenway between Orleans Street and St. Aubin Street.

The Dequindre Cut Greenway Phase II North project begins at the northern terminus of the Phase I at Gratiot Avenue and continues for over one-half mile to Mack Avenue. The Strategic Plan for Phase II provides a design approach and project budget that builds on the lessons learned in Phase I construction.

The Dequindre Cut is noted for the high quality graffiti covering the walls of the corridor. The Riverfront Conservancy which operates the greenway will permit current and future painted art work to remain as long as it is not deemed offensive. The trail is one of the city's few public art parks and is a major attraction for urban photographers.[1]

Riverfront activities

International Freedom Festival

The festival's fireworks display

Detroit River Days, a five day festival on the International Riverfront, marked the 2007 opening of the River Walk along the east river leading up to the Detroit-Windsor International Freedom Festival fireworks. Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario jointly celebrate the multi-day festival the last week of June which draws about 3.5 million visitors in order to commemorate each country's respective National holiday - (US Independence Day on July 4 and Canada Day on July 1). The festival began in 1959. It is organized by the Parade Company, a well sponsored not-for-profit organization governed by the Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation.

Traditionally, several days of events were planned, ending with one of the world's largest fireworks displays,[6] sponsored by Target. In prior years, the fireworks display has been billed as the world's largest. On the Windsor side, there is a midway consisting of carnival rides and concessions during the festival. The Midway operates as stand-alone attraction at the end of June, beginning of July.

Detroit Electronic Music Festival

The Detroit Electronic Music Festival (DEMF) is an electronic dance music showcase held in Hart Plaza each Memorial Day weekend since 2000. In subsequent years, the similarly themed festivals Movement (2003–2004), Fuse-In (2005) and currently, Movement: Detroit's Electronic Music Festival (2006-present) continue the DEMF's traditions, with each name change reflecting shifts in festival management. All of these festivals featured performances by musicians and DJs, and emphasized the progressive qualities of the culture surrounding electronic music.

Other events

The International Riverfront is host to part of the Detroit International Jazz Festival held in Hart Plaza each Labor Day weekend. Hart Plaza is also the traditional location of rallies to celebrate championships won by Detroit's major sports teams. Both Detroit and Windsor have hosted the Red Bull Air Race World Championship on the International Riverfront.

Belle Isle Park

Belle Isle Park
James Scott Fountain and Belle Isle Casino
Type Municipal (City of Detroit)
Location Detroit
42°20′25″N 82°59′12″W / 42.34028°N 82.98667°W / 42.34028; -82.98667
Size 982 acres (397 ha)
Opened 1845

Belle Isle is a 982 acres (397 ha; 1.534 sq mi) island park in the Detroit River managed by the Detroit Recreation Department. It connects to the city by the MacArthur Bridge. It is home to the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory (1904), the oldest conservatory in the United States, the Detroit Yacht Club, the Detroit Boat Club, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, a Coast Guard post, and a municipal golf course. The city still maintains a Nature Center where visitors are able to traverse wooded trails and view wildlife natural habitats. The island includes a half-mile (800 m) swimming beach.


Metro Detroit has an extensive freeway system. Downtown freeways have been reconfigured for easy access to the riverfront. Mass transit, with bus services provided by the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART), links to the riverfront. Cross border service between the downtown areas of Windsor and Detroit is provided by Transit Windsor via the Tunnel Bus.[7]. An automated guideway transit system known as the People Mover provides a 2.9 mile (4.6 km) loop in the downtown area with riverfront access and usually operates daily. The Woodward Avenue Light Rail, beginning 2013, will serve as a link between the Detroit People Mover downtown and SEMCOG Commuter Rail with access to bus service.[8] Cycling in Detroit is also popular.

Photo gallery

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Detroit Riverfront Conservancy
  2. ^ Detroit News Editorial (December 13, 2002). At Last, Sensible Dream for Detroit's Riverfront. Detroit News.
  3. ^ Detroit Case Study. Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation. Retrieved on June 23, 2009.
  4. ^ Detroit Wayne County Port Authority Breaks Ground on $11.25 Million Public Dock and Terminal.(June 21, 2004).PRNewswire. Retrieved on January 20, 2008.
  5. ^ AIA Detroit Urban Priorities Committee, (1-10-2006).Top 10 Detroit InteriorsModel D Media
  6. ^ Mink, Randy, and Karen Mink (July 2001).Detroit Turns 300 - Detroit 300 Festival. Travel America, World Publishing Co., Gale Group.
  7. ^ Transit Windsor.. "Routes and Schedules" (in English). Retrieved Sept 25 2006. 
  8. ^ Ann Arbor - Detroit Regional Rail Project SEMCOG. Retrieved on February 4, 2010.

References and further reading

  • Cantor, George (2005). Detroit: An Insiders Guide to Michigan. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0472030922. 
  • Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher (2002). AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3120-3. 
  • Rodriguez, Michael and Thomas Featherstone (2003). Detroit's Belle Isle Island Park Gem (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-2315-1. 
  • Sobocinski, Melanie Grunow (2005). Detroit and Rome: building on the past. Regents of the University of Michigan. ISBN 0933691092. 

External links


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