Last week-end I was in Detroit for a memorial service and was able to get a grand tour of the city thanks to my CSIL, who really did her research and truly gave me a feel for the metro area.
While Detroit has had its share of issues from extreme population decline, exorbitant unemployment and even bankruptcy, the city is worth a visit. With a rich history, a diverse population and an interesting and varied musical and art heritage, it is easy to look past the negative and see the positive.
Revitalization is in the works thanks to organizations like the Eastern Market Corporation and the Wayne State sponsored Detroit Revitalization Fellow Program.
Companies like Quicken Loans (ranked as one of the top 100 companies to work for) and
MSX International have chosen to move their headquarters to downtown Detroit and are aiding in the turnaround.
With all of this in mind, here are the highlights of our tour....
We began at the abandoned shell of the once grand
Michigan Central Station where the last train pulled out in 1988.
The building has sat vacant decrepit, crumbling and looted for years. From the highway you can see through the glass-less windows of the upper floors right to the other side.
During it's heyday, Michigan Central was second only to Grand Central Station in NYC in terms of it's grandeur and was the tallest train station in the US.
Apparently the building is still worthy of holiday adornment despite it being surrounded by fencing and razor wire....
To get a feel for the heart of the city we took an 18 minute, 2.9 mile ride on the
The People Mover which does a circle through downtown Detroit.
Ironically, it began servicing the downtown area in 1987, shortly before Michigan Central closed.
Next it was on to The Heidelberg Project an outdoor art installation by artist
Tyree Guyton on Detroit's blighted East side.
Words do little to describe the impact of Guyton's use of found objects, existing structures as well as the landscape to create art that until recently, has healed a neighborhood and symbolized a renewed sense of community for the area and its residents.
Unfortunately over the past 3 months, after 27 years of calm but controversy surrounding The Heidelberg Project, 8 incidents of arson have changed the landscape of the block long installation taking 8 buildings that once stood proudly on the street.
More Detroit artistic endeavors were seen at our next stop Pewabic Pottery. Founded byMary Chase Perry Stratton and her partner Horace Caulkins, Pewabic produced Arts & Crafts style pottery including vessels, tiles and architectural ornamentation which has been used throughout the US.
The building houses not only a shop and showroom, but also a working studio and a museum.
Well worth the stop.
After a lakefront driving tour which displayed the sharp contrast between the blighted neighborhoods of inner city Detroit and the more well heeled suburbs to the North, we landed at
Haberman's Fabrics in Royal Oak. Therese's all time favorite fabric store,
this place is a visual feast and we actually did some work while there
(if you can call looking at bolts and books of gorgeous fabric work...!)
Exhausted, we made our way back to our Southfield hotel, cracked open a bottle of wine and ordered in from Kabob Kabob.
Oh. my. word. The Chicken Shawarma sandwich with garlic sauce was to die for
as were the spicy pickles (made daily) and the stuffed grape leaves, yum!
What a fantastic end to an enlightening, whirlwind day, made even better because of spending time with my wonderful CSIL.
If you ever find yourself in Detroit, give the visit highlights I have just shared a try, you won't regret a minute!
I have to leave you with this video, well worth the 10 minutes... talk about making lemonade out of lemons in Detroit....
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