Many skylines are always changing, from Chicago and New York City, to Austin and Dallas, and everywhere in between. But the appearance and charm of Detroit’s skyline has remained consistent for decades. Sure, this is due partly to the city’s lack of funds and investors to build new skyscrapers and tear old ones down, but it is also because Detroit has a love affair with its relics from the past, and it’s helped to establish Detroit’s skyline as one of the most sought-after. Many of the buildings from the city’s heyday of the early 20th Century can still be found here, unlike in Chicago or New York, who have torn many of their old skycrapers down. It’s not just the buildings that give Detroit its photogenic charm, though, as many of Motown’s area’s can provide you and your family with a very worthwhile keepsake photograph.
1 Hart Plaza
Detroit, MI 48226
With the entire skyline of Windsor, Canada to the south across the river on one side and the amazing and up-close skyline of Detroit to the other, there really is no better place to take a great family photo than right in front of the waterfront in Hart Plaza. Home to many of Detroit’s outdoor festivals and events, Hart Plaza has a number of recognizable landmarks within it that a group of people could pose against or stand near for fun, including the Horace E. Dodge and Son Memorial Fountain and the large “arch” sculpture known as “Transcending,” which has stood for decades. Many of these areas are big tourist spots for the very reason of family photo taking, so be prepared to wait your turn.
1 Sunset Drive
Detroit, MI 48207
One of the crown jewels of Detroit may no longer belong to the city, but Belle Isle will forever be considered a part of Detroit so long as it remains just off its shore. Belle Isle officially became a state park on February 10, 2014, and since then has been flourishing thanks to the efforts of the dedicated volunteers of the Belle Isle Conservancy. New trees have been planted and the overall condition of the park has been beautified like never before. If you’re looking to get a photo of your family on the beach, with the wonderful Detroit skyline in the background, then there is no better shot than one on Belle Isle.
Spirit of Detroit
2 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48226
The Spirit of Detroit is a massive city monument made of bronze and created by Marshall Fredericks that forever sits just in front of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. The statue is one of the most instantly recognizable features of downtown Detroit and can often be seen on many hats, shirts and other Detroit-centric clothing and items. Commissioned in 1955, during the city’s biggest boom times, the figure holds in its left, raised hand a gilded sphere, representing God, and in its right hand is a family group (perfect for a family photo). A plaque on the front of the monument claims “The artist expresses the concept that God, through the spirit of man, is manifested in the family, the noblest human relationship.”
Related: A Breakdown Of Detroit Neighborhoods
Street Art at the Russell Industrial Center
1600 Clay St.
Detroit, MI 48211
Pressed up along the I-75 expressway, from all outward appearances, the area around the Russell Industrial Center may seem like a bit of a run-down, rough neighborhood, but depending on what your tastes are and whether or not your family craves adventure, this could be a great opportunity for a very unique shot. The Russell Industrial Center is home to all kinds of art: art inside for sale, art outside on the buildings, and street art just about everywhere else, too. Over the course of seven buildings, with 2.2 million square feet of space for visual art of all kind, the Russell “Bazaar,” as it has also been known, might have your next best family photo backdrop. This is not a place for the faint of heart or for those with very young children.
2648 W Grand Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48208
Odds are that someone in your family loves the melodic sounds of Motown music from the yesteryear of Detroit. Whether it’s mom or dad, or even one of the kids, the Motown Museum is a home along Grand Boulevard set up by legendary Motown Records Barry Gordy back in the 1960s that saw it all: the creation of the “Motown Sound,” the rise of Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder (among so many others), and the explosion of the pop music of the 1960s. So much happened right here in this small studio. The quaint atmosphere inside and the simple yard outside, both holding so much music history, are a great place to line up for a family photo that you’ll always cherish.
Related: A Walking Tour Of Detroit’s Downtown
Michael Ferro is freelance writer and a graduate of Michigan State University where he majored in Creative Writing and received the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award. Born and bred in Detroit, he currently resides in Ypsilanti Township. Additional writing can be found at Examiner.com.