Don’t Avoid Detroit

When you tell people you’re going to Detroit they often give you that “are you crazy?” look and wish you to come back alive or at least unhurt. Pictures of abandoned and destroyed post-apocalyptic Detroit’s ruin-porn make their rounds on the internet, interspersed with scary crime statistics and sad economic news. A person with common sense would probably avoid Detroit, but clearly I am not that person. During a college visit to the nearby Ann Arbor, I set aside two days to check out Detroit because how could I not. Detroit is awesome. And we came back alive and even unhurt, if you don’t count a parking ticket, which did hurt a lot.

We found Detroit interesting, packed with great architecture, unique food, plenty of stuff to see and many people who are excited about where it’s going and where it soon will be. We took a bus and a walking tour of the city because we didn’t have time to wander around on our own.

Penobscot Building

Heidelberg Project, something we wouldn’t have seen without a tour, is pretty amazing. Many museums display similar pieces of “modern art” but here it doesn’t look pretentious or out-of-place.

Back to Downtown.

Spirit of Detroit.

Joe Louis’s Fist aiming at Canada and the Transcending Sculpture celebrating Michigan’s contributions to the Labor movement.

We visited the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn.

The Dodge Brothers apparently denied this has anything to do with being Jewish and died before they could explain it.

No Detroit didn’t clean up overnight and crime, poverty and abandoned buildings are still there, but something is being done about it, people are moving back and apparently it’s almost impossible to find a place to live downtown where the occupancy rate is something like 98 percent. There are many things to see, do and eat, but I don’t recommend parking on that one street on a Saturday afternoon or you will get a ticket.

  • Will Notb

    I passed through Detroit two years ago, went out of my way to view the abandoned / destroyed neighborhoods; looked like what I imagined the city in Dhalgren to be…glad to hear they’re making a comeback.

    You’re right about the city’s architecture; some of the finest and most distinctive examples of art deco in America – the skyline itself is classic.

    • The tours were provided by a non-profit set up to promote Detroit, and he went on and on about the downtown and midtown real estate flying off the market, but he was pretty balanced and talked about the other stuff too. He didn’t take us to see the ruins though, he said there are plenty of other non-depressing stuff to see. Lots of good food too.