Life in the D, vol. 1

I've had this idea for a while now, but after seeing Jon Stewart at the Detroit Opera House on Saturday, I've been spurred into action. Seems Jon was none-to-impressed with what has to be my favorite Detroit-area landmark: the big fucking tire.

I decided that what Detroit needs is a little appreciation, and well, I'm here to give it. So, welcome to your semi-regular installment of "Life in the D" (many thanks to Brendan Benson).

The Uniroyal Tire began its life as an 80-foot tall ferris wheel at the 1964 New York World's Fair. Apparently, over two million people rode the ferris wheel, including Jacqueline Kennedy and her children Carolyn and John F. Kennedy, Jr., as well as the Shah of Iran. Think about that for a second. The fucking Shah of Iran people! It's like something out of a Clash video!

After the fair came to an end, the tire was moved piece by piece to the Uniroyal headquarters in Allen Park. You can see it along I-94 Eastbound, between exits 204A and 206.

In 1994, Uniroyal gave the tire a $1million make-over, giving it some flashy neon lighting and a new hubcap. Personally, I'm hoping that the next make-over will include some spinning rims, because, let's face it, it doesn't get any more Detroit than that.

A giant 10' tall, 500-pound nail was added in 1998, ostensibly to promote Uniroyal's ability to withstand tire punctures. In 2003, the nail was removed, and an area businessman purchased it off eBay for $3,000. He spent the next year parading it through Greektown in an attempt to have the nail inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records.

When I was a kid, I would often drive to Metro Airport with my parents—which, at the time, seemed like the longest trip ever. So, to ward off the inevitable chorus of "Are we there yet?" my mother used to tell me to keep an eye for the big tire—that's when I knew we were mere minutes from the airport. Apparently, I'm not the only one with fond childhood memories of the tire—in 1999 and 2002, Metro Times readers named it the best local landmark.

I did call this a semi-regular installment, so I'm going to try to discuss some other Detroit landmarks in the near future? I'm thinking The Fist is the next obvious choice. Any other suggestions?


annamaria at 7:36 PM

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