20 useless facts about Detroit that you probably didn't know

Here are some completely useless tidbits everyone should have handy to tell at the next cocktail party.

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A woman poisoned an apartment building with arsenic-laced biscuits
In 1905, an employee of Alhambra Apartments served poisoned biscuits to the building’s residents because she was upset at having been demoted from cook to floor-scrubber. Two people died.
Photo via GoogleMaps

A woman poisoned an apartment building with arsenic-laced biscuits

In 1905, an employee of Alhambra Apartments served poisoned biscuits to the building’s residents because she was upset at having been demoted from cook to floor-scrubber. Two people died.

Photo via GoogleMaps
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A journalist drove down every street in Detroit
In 2007, Free Press journalist Bill McGraw drove down all 2,700 miles of Detroit’s streets. Over the course of five months, he traveled down 2,100 streets across the city and observed the extremes of the city. McGraw’s reflections and interviews were published in a five-part series.
Photo via GoogleMaps

A journalist drove down every street in Detroit

In 2007, Free Press journalist Bill McGraw drove down all 2,700 miles of Detroit’s streets. Over the course of five months, he traveled down 2,100 streets across the city and observed the extremes of the city. McGraw’s reflections and interviews were published in a five-part series.

Photo via GoogleMaps
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A woman was convicted of conning an 88-year-old man out of $231,000
Over the course of 11 years, a Detroit woman swindled $231,000 from an 88-year-old man and spent it all at Detroit casinos. Carrie McCoy, a 66-year-old Baptist church employee, met the man through a lonely hearts club. He lives in Green Bay, Wisc., and they never met in person. After accusing the man of inappropriate behavior, McCoy blackmailed him.
Photo via MGM Grand Detroit / Facebook

A woman was convicted of conning an 88-year-old man out of $231,000

Over the course of 11 years, a Detroit woman swindled $231,000 from an 88-year-old man and spent it all at Detroit casinos. Carrie McCoy, a 66-year-old Baptist church employee, met the man through a lonely hearts club. He lives in Green Bay, Wisc., and they never met in person. After accusing the man of inappropriate behavior, McCoy blackmailed him.

Photo via MGM Grand Detroit / Facebook
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A baby was put on terrorist watch list and detained at Detroit Metropolitan Airport
In 2015, the parents of a seven-month-old baby were shocked to find their child’s boarding pass was stamped ‘SSSS.’ This designation means the person has been identified for extra screening from the Terrorist Screening Center, a division of the FBI. The child, now four years old, was one of 18 plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Terrorist Screening Center and a class-action lawsuit seeking damages. A judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in early September 2019.
Photo via Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) / Facebook

A baby was put on terrorist watch list and detained at Detroit Metropolitan Airport

In 2015, the parents of a seven-month-old baby were shocked to find their child’s boarding pass was stamped ‘SSSS.’ This designation means the person has been identified for extra screening from the Terrorist Screening Center, a division of the FBI. The child, now four years old, was one of 18 plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Terrorist Screening Center and a class-action lawsuit seeking damages. A judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in early September 2019.

Photo via Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) / Facebook
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Elmo was given a key to the city
During a visit to Children’s Hospital of Michigan in 2010, Elmo was given the key to the city by then-Mayor Dave Bing. Detroit is the only city to have awarded Elmo a key to the city.
Photo via Shutterstock

Elmo was given a key to the city

During a visit to Children’s Hospital of Michigan in 2010, Elmo was given the key to the city by then-Mayor Dave Bing. Detroit is the only city to have awarded Elmo a key to the city.

Photo via Shutterstock
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Harry Houdini died in Detroit
Before a show in Montreal, Houdini was punched in the stomach numerous times by a visitor who had asked if Houdini could withstand any punch. Houdini performed at Detroit’s Garrick Theater despite crippling pain. Just days later on Halloween, Houdini died at Grace Hospital of appendicitis. 
Photo via The Library of Congress, McManus-Young Collection / Wikimedia Commons

Harry Houdini died in Detroit

Before a show in Montreal, Houdini was punched in the stomach numerous times by a visitor who had asked if Houdini could withstand any punch. Houdini performed at Detroit’s Garrick Theater despite crippling pain. Just days later on Halloween, Houdini died at Grace Hospital of appendicitis.

  Photo via The Library of Congress, McManus-Young Collection / Wikimedia Commons
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Jimmy Hoffa went missing from a Bloomfield Hills restaurant
In 1975, the union organizer went missing from outside a Bloomfield Hills restaurant. While Hoffa was declared legally dead in 1982, the mystery of his disappearance has yet to be solved.
Photo via 
John Bottega / Wikimedia Commons

Jimmy Hoffa went missing from a Bloomfield Hills restaurant

In 1975, the union organizer went missing from outside a Bloomfield Hills restaurant. While Hoffa was declared legally dead in 1982, the mystery of his disappearance has yet to be solved.

Photo via John Bottega / Wikimedia Commons
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You can pay to be kidnapped
Since 2002, Extreme Kidnapping has specialized in fake kidnapping. For $1000, you can experience the “express kidnap,” a four-hour, customizable kidnapping adventure. A 10-hour kidnapping will run you $1600. They also offer kidnapping prevention courses, corporate team building workshops, and interrogation survival classes.
Photo via ExtremeKidnapping / Facebook

You can pay to be kidnapped

Since 2002, Extreme Kidnapping has specialized in fake kidnapping. For $1000, you can experience the “express kidnap,” a four-hour, customizable kidnapping adventure. A 10-hour kidnapping will run you $1600. They also offer kidnapping prevention courses, corporate team building workshops, and interrogation survival classes.

Photo via ExtremeKidnapping / Facebook
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Metallica played a surprise concert on Belle Isle
While Belle Isle is usually a haven of quiet solitude away from the bustle of the city, it was once the site of a heavy metal concert. In 2013, Metallica played a surprise show on Belle Isle during the Orion Music + More Festival.
Photo via Metallica / Facebook

Metallica played a surprise concert on Belle Isle

While Belle Isle is usually a haven of quiet solitude away from the bustle of the city, it was once the site of a heavy metal concert. In 2013, Metallica played a surprise show on Belle Isle during the Orion Music + More Festival.

Photo via Metallica / Facebook
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A deadly airplane crash happened here
In 1987, the second-deadliest airplane crash in the United States occurred shortly after the plane took off from Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Of the 157 passengers and crew, the only survivor was a 4-year-old girl. Nick Vanos, a basketball player for the Phoenix Suns, was among those killed.
Photo via National Transformation Safety Board / Wikimedia Commons

A deadly airplane crash happened here

In 1987, the second-deadliest airplane crash in the United States occurred shortly after the plane took off from Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Of the 157 passengers and crew, the only survivor was a 4-year-old girl. Nick Vanos, a basketball player for the Phoenix Suns, was among those killed.

Photo via National Transformation Safety Board / Wikimedia Commons
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A guru had a pie thrown in his face
In 1973, Prem Rawat, then known as Guru Maharaj Ji, was pied in the face by a radical journalist named Pat Halley. Rawat, who was 15 years old at the time, is the son of the founder of Divine Light Mission and its current leader. DLM has been characterized as a church, a cult, and a religion. It was brought to the West by Rawat in the 1970s.
Photo via The Prem Rawat Foundation / Wikimedia Commons

A guru had a pie thrown in his face

In 1973, Prem Rawat, then known as Guru Maharaj Ji, was pied in the face by a radical journalist named Pat Halley. Rawat, who was 15 years old at the time, is the son of the founder of Divine Light Mission and its current leader. DLM has been characterized as a church, a cult, and a religion. It was brought to the West by Rawat in the 1970s.

Photo via The Prem Rawat Foundation / Wikimedia Commons
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Detroit hosted the Republican National Convention
The 1980 Republican National Convention was held at Joe Louis Arena. It was at this convention that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were nominated. Reagan, who stayed at the Detroit Plaza Hotel in the Renaissance Center, ran his campaign on the slogan “Let’s Make America Great Again.”
Photo via The White House / Wikimedia Commons

Detroit hosted the Republican National Convention

The 1980 Republican National Convention was held at Joe Louis Arena. It was at this convention that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were nominated. Reagan, who stayed at the Detroit Plaza Hotel in the Renaissance Center, ran his campaign on the slogan “Let’s Make America Great Again.”

Photo via The White House / Wikimedia Commons
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Saddam Hussein was given the key to the city
In 1980, then-President of Iraq Saddam Hussein was given the key. Then-Mayor Coleman Young and Pastor Jacob Yasso presented Hussein with the key as a token of gratitude for the generous donations he made to Sacred Heart Chaldean church.
Photo via 
Wikimedia Commons

Saddam Hussein was given the key to the city

In 1980, then-President of Iraq Saddam Hussein was given the key. Then-Mayor Coleman Young and Pastor Jacob Yasso presented Hussein with the key as a token of gratitude for the generous donations he made to Sacred Heart Chaldean church.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons
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The largest public satanic ceremony happened here
In 2015, the largest public satanic ceremony took place in a warehouse near the Detroit River. Over 600 people watched as a 9-foot-tall bronze statue of Baphomet was unveiled.
Photo via screen grab / YouTube

The largest public satanic ceremony happened here

In 2015, the largest public satanic ceremony took place in a warehouse near the Detroit River. Over 600 people watched as a 9-foot-tall bronze statue of Baphomet was unveiled.

Photo via screen grab / YouTube
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A street sweeper had two babies fall on his head
In 1937, a street sweeper named Joseph Figlock was struck on the head by a baby falling out of a fourth-floor window. Both he and the baby survived. One year later, a 2-year-old fell on his head. Again, both Figlock and the child emerged unscathed.
Photo via Missouri History Museum / Wikimedia Commons

A street sweeper had two babies fall on his head

In 1937, a street sweeper named Joseph Figlock was struck on the head by a baby falling out of a fourth-floor window. Both he and the baby survived. One year later, a 2-year-old fell on his head. Again, both Figlock and the child emerged unscathed.

Photo via Missouri History Museum / Wikimedia Commons
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A "dwarf-tossing" contest caused a protest
In 2016, a dwarf-tossing contest at Toy Chest, a Detroit bar, caused 3,000 people to sign a petition advocating for the end of the practice. A small protest also took place during the event. "Dwarf-tossing," in which a helmeted and padded person with dwarfism is thrown onto an air mattress or velcro wall, has been banned in some states after pushback from the Little People of America. While a ban has been discussed in Michigan, it is still legal.
Photo via Toy Chest Events / Facebook

A "dwarf-tossing" contest caused a protest

In 2016, a dwarf-tossing contest at Toy Chest, a Detroit bar, caused 3,000 people to sign a petition advocating for the end of the practice. A small protest also took place during the event. "Dwarf-tossing," in which a helmeted and padded person with dwarfism is thrown onto an air mattress or velcro wall, has been banned in some states after pushback from the Little People of America. While a ban has been discussed in Michigan, it is still legal.

Photo via Toy Chest Events / Facebook
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Detroit has the only floating zip code in the United States
The J.W. Westcott II is a floating post office with its own zip code. The boat has a contract with the U.S. Postal Service and delivers mail to ship crews on the Detroit River. In 2001, the J.W. Westcott II sank after it was caught in the wake of a Norweigian oil tanker, killing the captain and a crew member. The boat was salvaged and continues to service the river. 
Photo via BoatNerd / YouTube

Detroit has the only floating zip code in the United States

The J.W. Westcott II is a floating post office with its own zip code. The boat has a contract with the U.S. Postal Service and delivers mail to ship crews on the Detroit River. In 2001, the J.W. Westcott II sank after it was caught in the wake of a Norweigian oil tanker, killing the captain and a crew member. The boat was salvaged and continues to service the river.

  Photo via BoatNerd / YouTube
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A tiger got loose at the Packard Plant
In 2015, a British wildlife photographer rented the Packard Plant for a photoshoot. Without clearing it with the project manager of the Packard Plant Project, he arrived with a tiger, two wolves, and a bobcat. Unfortunately, the tiger escaped and hid in a staircase. It was eventually captured by trainers, but not before wandering the plant. 
Photo courtesy of Andy Didorosi

A tiger got loose at the Packard Plant

In 2015, a British wildlife photographer rented the Packard Plant for a photoshoot. Without clearing it with the project manager of the Packard Plant Project, he arrived with a tiger, two wolves, and a bobcat. Unfortunately, the tiger escaped and hid in a staircase. It was eventually captured by trainers, but not before wandering the plant.

  Photo courtesy of Andy Didorosi
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Detroit has its own currency
Detroit Community Scrip, also known as Detroit Cheers, is a local $3 currency backed by the US government. Cheers were first introduced in 2009 as a way to invigorate the local economy, since only businesses in the city accept the currency. The bills, which are printed with an image of the Spirit of Detroit and the city skyline, might be too pretty for their own good. While the currency has seen limited success, the attractiveness of the bills has resulted in customers wanting to keep them rather than spend them.
Photo via Tony Bennett / Detroit Stock City

Detroit has its own currency

Detroit Community Scrip, also known as Detroit Cheers, is a local $3 currency backed by the US government. Cheers were first introduced in 2009 as a way to invigorate the local economy, since only businesses in the city accept the currency. The bills, which are printed with an image of the Spirit of Detroit and the city skyline, might be too pretty for their own good. While the currency has seen limited success, the attractiveness of the bills has resulted in customers wanting to keep them rather than spend them.

Photo via Tony Bennett / Detroit Stock City
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