Best Neighborhoods in Detroit: Detroit, MI Community Living Guide
by Michael Perna
on Thursday, October 22nd, 2020 at 2:10pm.
With a sprawling metro area of 4.3 million people, Detroit is Michigan's largest city. Although this urban center earned the nickname "Motor City" for a reason, there's more to Detroit than the automobile industry. Detroit has a unique culture that is reflected everywhere from its music to its architecture.
Over the last 20 years, the city has undergone concerted efforts to revitalize and renovate many of its older neighborhoods, as well as its riverfront, historic performance venues, and other aging community buildings.
While choosing a neighborhood is a subjective process, there are certain areas of Detroit that stand out above the rest.
Trendy hipster area
Great restaurants and dining
Vintage & Consignment shopping
Near the heart of downtown Detroit
Known as Detroit's oldest existing neighborhood, Corktown's architectural style is dominated by a combination of both detached and row houses of the Federal architectural style.
Corktown was a favorite of new implants coming to Detroit. In the 1820s and 1830s, growing numbers of immigrants arrived and settled downtown. In the 1840s, many new people flocked to Detroit, and they chose to settle in the less-inhabited area west of downtown. The area eventually became known as Corktown, after the county of the same name in Ireland.
By the 1890s, Corktown had become home to people from all over, and after World War I ended, the growing number of auto industry jobs brought new workers in droves, many of whom settled in Corktown.
As the number of homeowners grew, modest one and two-story Victorian townhouses began to pop up with more frequency. Most were of Italianate, Gothic and Queen Anne style. Corktown has undergone some revitalization since the early 2000s, with many new businesses moving into otherwise empty or abandoned spaces.
Today, Corktown residents are just a stone's throw away from a variety of independent coffee shops, local breweries, restaurants and more. Nearly everything anyone could possibly want is located within this small neighborhood, and anything that isn't in the neighborhood is just a short walk or bus ride away.
Established in 1917, Sherwood Forest is home to about 1,200 residents and consists of 435 homes built primarily during the time of the Great Depression. The neighborhood is made up of two subdivisions: Sherwood Forest, plotted in 1916, and Sherwood Forest Manor, plotted a decade later. Development of the neighborhood was driven by the growing automotive industry, and more specifically, the demand for luxury housing.
The neighborhood was names after Sherwood Forest in England. Developers took the neighborhood's name to heart, using English touches throughout the district and naming streets with British names. Touches like curved and winding roadways provide the perfect backdrop to Georgian Colonial and English Tudor architecture.
Modern-day Sherwood Forest district has become one of Detroit's most sought-after neighborhoods, thanks in large part to its tranquility, distinctive streets, and historic architecture. Residents must abide by several regulations, designed to protect the neighborhood's status.
The neighborhood was designated a historic district by the city of Detroit. Sherwood Forest is just a short distance from downtown, so it has easy access to shopping as well as all major freeways. Sherwood Forest has an active and engaged neighborhood association with several events held throughout the year, including the Children's Spring Fling, Halloween parties, and art events.
This historic Detroit neighborhood is known for its many Victorian houses. It was first listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and has since expanded the boundaries of the district twice.
This remarkably intact neighborhood of architecturally noteworthy homes is named for William Woodbridge, who served as governor of Michigan from 1841-1847 and owned the farmland that was later developed into the neighborhood.
Most structures in the Woodbridge neighborhood were built after 1870, with the humble cottages built first followed by the more expansive structures. Built in 1901, the neighborhood's Eighth Precinct Police Station was elaborately designed so that it would blend in with the upscale homes of the neighborhood.
As the city struggled to keep up with the increased housing demand brought about by the booming auto industry, Woodbridge saw apartment houses and other buildings constructed between existing homes. During World War II, the neighborhood again felt growing pains as the demand for houses spiked to accommodate defense industry workers, with some homes dividing into multiple housing units.
In addition to its historic significance, the neighborhood appeals to residents because it is within walking or bicycling distance of downtown Detroit and other popular nearby neighborhoods.
Lafayette Park is a revitalized neighborhood featuring post-WWII modernist houses and high rises. It has been called one of the earliest planned, and most fully successful, urban renewal projects of the era.
The neighborhood is especially known for its Mies Van Der Rohe residential historic district, distinctively designed by the German-born architect. The district, along with areas of the neighborhood designed by others, is widely accepted as an extraordinary example of modern urban architecture.
Located on Detroit's lower east side, Lafayette Park is directly south of the Eastern Market Historic District. It features three high-rise apartment buildings. Each is designed of unencumbered glass and steel, a trademark of the neighborhood. One- and two-story cooperatives and apartments make up the majority of the remaining residential sections.
The 46-acre neighborhood is divided by a greenway, with its portions known as Lafayette Plaisance Park, Lafayette Central Park, and Lafayette Entry Park. The neighborhood also borders on the Dequindre Cut Greenway, a rail-to-trail development featuring paved paths for bicycling. Lafayette Plaisance Park is revered for its shaded lawns and village ambiance. Lafayette Park is also home to a number of restaurants, coffee shops and a neighborhood grocery store.
Indian Village was built at the turn of the 20th century and consists of more than 350 homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Located about three miles from downtown on the East Side, the prominent neighborhood was first developed in 1893. At the time, home prices were set so extremely high that only a few individuals could build. It consists of three streets: Seminole, Iroquois, and Burns.
Many homes in the Indian Village neighborhood are noteworthy not only for their unique architectural design, but also because they were designed by some of the city's most revered architects of the time. In whole, the neighborhood incorporates at least 17 distinct, identifiable architectural styles. Some of the most recognizable styles include Colonial Revival, Arts and Crafts, Federal, Romanesque, Georgian and Tudor Revival.
Indian Village appeals to prospective residents with its historic mansions containing a whole host of luxury features, including elaborately-carved wood moldings, onyx fireplaces, elevators, ballrooms, servants quarters, and huge carriage houses. Indian Village is also known to be a very tranquil neighborhood.
Whether you're seeking to live amidst some of the city's history, within the city's best suburbs, or prefer something with a more contemporary flair, Detroit's residential neighborhoods have much to offer, including affordability, diversity, strong neighborhood associations, and easy access to transportation.
Detroit's neighborhoods are diverse, ranging from historic Victorian-style homes near the city's center to airy converted-warehouse lofts overlooking the river, with modern mid-century architecture in between. Each neighborhood has its own features and amenities that attract residents and visitors alike.