The Story of the Spirit of Detroit Statue

The Spirit of Detroit.
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He might look a little like the Jolly Green Giant, but the 26-foot-tall "Spirit of Detroit" Statue sculpted by Marshall Fredericks in the 1950s has become a Detroit symbol and landmark. The statue actually depicts a seated man holding a sphere in one hand and a family group in the other. The statue's plaque reads, "Through the spirit of man is manifested in the family, the noblest human relationship."

Jolly Green Giant

Rusting green over the years, the bronze statue eventually developed the alias “Jolly Green Giant.” With the new moniker, the statue seemed to come to life. For instance, one night around St. Patrick’s Day (or thereabouts) the big green guy apparently paid a visit across Woodward Avenue to the nude ballet dancer depicted in Giacomo Manzu’s Dance Step sculpture. While no one actually saw the Jolly Green Giant during his night-time escapades, green footprints were found on the pavement the next morning linking the two statues.

The Jolly Green Giant was caught in the act, however, when he sported a Red Wing’s jersey in celebration of the team’s Stanley Cup win in 1997. It’s now a tradition for the bronzed man to wear the jersey whenever the Red Wings are victorious. 


The statue is located by the City-County Building (aka Coleman A. Young Municipal Center) at the base of Woodward Avenue and across from Jefferson Avenue from the GM Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit.

Inscription in Stone Behind the Statue:

"Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."