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A tourist attraction with no tourists
I visited the central business area and found the beautiful General Motors Renaissance Center on the waterfront. Walking through the Renaissance Center I saw huge food courts with vendors offering food like many tourist area's in many major cities. But there were no customers. There was no one there except for the people working in the food court. I was here on a Friday afternoon during the lunch rush hour. I literally had the building alone all to myself. It was very sad to see. This seems to be the story of Detroit, a once great American city now all but forgotten.
Visit the General Motors Renaissance Center
I was expecting to find in Detroit, a city completely abandoned and full of decaying buildings. So it was a pleasant surprise to find the beautiful General Motors Renaissance Center. The center is located on the waterfront in what should be a tourist area. The walk along the water way is beautiful. The building itself is a wonder. The central tower is identical to the Peachtree Center in Atlanta, Georgia which is one of my favorite buildings. Walking inside the center there is a large food court, many shops and displays of General Motors newest cars. The only thing missing was visitors.
The Ren Cen is the face of the Detroit skyline. It’s center tower is 73 stories and has the GM logo signifying the World Headquarters of the automaker. The complex consists of 7 towers and over 5 million square feet, and includes dozens of stories, a hotel, and several restaurants and movie theatres. At one point, GM employed around 6000 employees at their headquarters, but this has continued to shrink, as they consolidate their operations. There is also a RiverWalk from the RenCen that is an enjoyable stroll and you can jump on the People Mover to check out some of the other Detroit attractions. Staying at the Ren Cen is a convenient base to explore Detroit for the weekend and have beautiful views of the river, as well as good access to restaurants and the surrounding downtown area.
Ironically, with it being GM Headquarters, one of the main drivers for the complex was Henry Ford II, who announced the project in 1971. Construction began in 1973, and the first tower was opened in 1976, and the Detroit skyline was forever changed. GM has made the complex much more accessible then in the past, removing large berms that faced Jefferson Ave and was a primary driver of the RiverWalk.
GM RENAISSANCE CENTER
Hans and I have always wondered what it was like inside the RENCEN, so now was our opportunity to do so. Literally a city within a city, this place is HUGE. There was a large Baptist Convention going on that weekend, so it was very busy there that day.
Located on the Detroit Riverfront, the GM RENAISSANCE CENTER is a group of seven interconnected skyscrapers, rising 73 stories above the Detroit River. The complex is home to General Motors World Headquarters. The central tower is the tallest all-hotel ( the 1,298 room Marriott ) skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere.
The complex whose motto is Dine - Shop - Play - Stay, also has dozens of stores, a four-screen movie theater and an 1,100 seat food court. Attractions include the new Asian Village, a riverfront plaza, roof-top restaurant and a 44,000 square foot vehicle display area.
My favourite area was the Wintergarden Atrium with its wonderful panoramic views of the Detroit River and Windsor.
The new GM Headquarters
At one point, the Renaissance center was home to many businesses, shops, restaurants and at one time housed the Westin Hotel.
These days it is now the home base for General Motors Headquarters. The most famous landmark of downtown Detroit, the buiding is nestled on the banks of the Detroit River, and although the main focus is GM, you will also find several shops and "Seldom Blues," a hip and upscale restaurant and jazz club.
The building pictured here is the Detroit Renaissance Center -- a 72-story Marriott Hotel surrounded by four 39-story office buildings (with an additional two added later). When it was built in 1976, it had the largest revolving restaurant in the world and the hotel was the tallest in America.
It was purchased by General Motors in 1996 and is undergoing major rennovation as it becomes GM's world headquarters. A new waterfront area is also being developed. The Wintergarden (5-story atrium overlooking the Detroit River) is done and many shops and restaurants are open. The 71st and 72nd floor of the hotel used to be a revolving restaurant providing fantastic views of Detroit and Windsor, Canada. Finally these floors have reopened (though it no longer revolves) as the upscale Coach Insignia restaurant. Unfortunately they didn't bother to tell anybody about it and, thus, didn't get enough lunch traffic to keep it open all day. Currently (2/2005) they are only open for dinner. It seems hard to believe but they claim this is the nation's second highest restaurant. I haven't been up there since the refurbishment.
In the complex there is a food court & a few other restaurants inside. Check the website below for current tenant information.
There is also an automobile exhibit called GM World featuring current and historical GM cars and trucks. Admission is free.
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Dominating Detroit is the GM tower, home of General Motors. You quite literally can't miss it. The sky metro stops here and it really is quite impressive. Don't know if they do tours but I can guarantee the view would be amazing.
Going to the top of the Ren Cen (the observation deck) is a lot of fun and gives you an overview of the layout of the city. Be sure that it's a clear day. You can see alot of Canada and the view of the Ambassador Bridge is great. Also the Ren Cen is General Motors new headquarters so they normally have some pretty cool displays around if you like cars.
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Detroit Travel Guide
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