Category: Michigan
Author: Michael DeFranceschi • Published

The New Detroit Sign on I-94: Everything You Want to Know!

The location, why the sign was built, who built it, and more!
Graffiti Alley Ann Arbor main corridor in 2024 in downtown Ann Arbor off East Liberty Street.


Detroit's newest sign along I-94 E is drawing a lot of attention.

The sign has been called the D-E-T-R-O-I-T welcome sign, the Gateway sign, or some variation of the 'I-94 Detroit Sign'.

Reception following its debut was mixed. When LED lights were added so the sign would light up at nighttime, reception tilted more so on the positive side of the scale.

I myself would rather have the sign than not. I think it's okay. Taking pictures of it on the edge of the highway at night was a thrilling experience!

In this article, I am going to provide you everything you want to know about the Motor City's latest tourist attraction!


The New Detroit Sign on I-94: Everything You Want to Know!

Where is the new Detroit sign located?

A Google maps visual of the exact location of Detroit sign I94.
Google Maps with the new sign's location.

The new Detroit sign is located on the right side of I-94 eastbound, a.k.a the E Edsel Ford Freeway, toward Detroit, between Dearborn and Detroit. As for streets that go over the freeway, the sign is between Central St and Cecil Ave.

If you are off the freeway and in the residential part south of the freeway, you'll see the sign is between Proctor St and Tarnow St.

What's even more handy is that the Detroit sign has its own address, which is 4900 Proctor St, Detroit, MI 48210.

I don't know, however, if this address will take you behind the sign or in front of it.

I found the sign simply by getting directions to I-94 eastbound and driving until I saw the sign.

If you're a little courageous and want the best view of the sign, I would pull off on the side of I-94 and temporarily park. Step out of your car, be mindful of traffic whizzing past you, as you'll be arm's length away from other vehicles.

The Detroit sign is on an elevated patch of grass on the side of the freeway. You can walk right up to the letters if you want.

Why was the new Detroit sign built?

Before the new Detroit sign I94, the Countdown Clock in Campus Martius was designed to count down the time until the first day of the 2024 NFL Draft.
The Countdown Clock was the first structure built in anticipation of the draft.

On March 28, 2022, the NFL announced that the draft in 2024 would take place in Detroit.

Following the announcement of the draft, Detroit-based creative agency DG3D constructed the Countdown Clock in Campus Martius. It was unveiled in 2022, with a numeric display counting down from the second to April 25th, 2024.

In August 2023, the City of Detroit placed in a bid with the mayor and City Council to greenlight the construction of the main Detroit sign and five smaller 'Welcome to Detroit' signs.

The main reason for the Detroit sign's construction was to welcome the large anticipated influx of visitors for the 2024 NFL Draft.

Who built the new Detroit sign?

Before Fairmont Sign Company built the new Detroit sign I94, they also built the famous Fox Theater sign in downtown Detroit.
The same company who built the lettering for the Fox Theater also built the new Detroit sign.

The new Detroit sign was built by Fairmont Sign Company. This company has been a Detroit-based and family owned business for 50 years.

Fairmont Sign Company is the same company who also built the lettering for the beloved Fox Theater in downtown.

The total cost of the new Detroit sign was $269,275. The five smaller 'Welcome to Detroit' signs cost a total of $135,900. Altogether, the City of Detroit paid Fairmont Sign Company $405,175.

The LED lights, which were added on April 15th, were done by DTE.

Reception of the new Detroit sign

Many Detroiters expected the Detroit sign I94 to be like the letters in Hollywood, CA.
I think Detroiters were expecting the sign to be closer to this.

Reception of the Detroit sign when it was complete seemed split down the middle. Some loved it. And some hated it.

For those who complained about the sign, I think many of them assumed the sign would be similar to the famous lettering you see in Hollywood.

For reference, the Hollywood letters are 45 feet tall and 30 feet wide. The Detroit letters are 10 feet tall.

When people found out the Detroit sign's cost was shy of $300,000, people expected something larger. It didn't help too that earlier in 2024, an AI image of the lettering that was not posted by the City of Detroit was circulating.

Below is a meme I saw on Instagram of what people expected the sign to look like versus what it actually looks like.

A meme showing what Detroiters expected the new Detroit sign to look like versus what it actually looks like. Detroiters expected the new Detroit sign to be more in the style of the Hollywood letters in California.
An 'expectations vs reality' meme of the Detroit sign I saw on Instagram.

That being said, some people... lightened up... when LED lights were added to the sign so it would effectively 'glow in the dark'.

The most comedic responses I've seen to the new Detroit sign were metro Detroit towns, such as Warren and Redford, erecting their own signs. I haven't personally seen any of them, as I don't drive by those areas.

I think it's a little funny. Well, funnier than spray-painting the word 'farts' all over Graffiti Alley in Ann Arbor...


Until more news pops up regarding the new Detroit sign, that's everything you want to know!

Unless... did I miss something? Also, tell me: what do you think of the new Detroit sign? Feel free to email me because I love to hear from my readers!

Thank you for reading! Like... seriously. So many people just skim sh*t and don't read anything past the headline. You're one of the good ones!

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