So this week has once again been pretty steady. Not as much after school stuff, but I have started doing more tours. A little known fact, I love history and my city. Detroit is my home, and I love sharing that love with others. So back in 2009, I started doing tours with Inside Detroit (now Detroit Experience Factory), and it has truly opened my eyes to all that is going on in my city, both good and bad. I have seen the downtown area grow exponentially. When I started, there were 130 bars and restaurants in the greater downtown area. I am proud to say that today, in the greater downtown area, there are over 330 locally owned bars and restaurants. That means no chains! We have also been able to expand our list to the surrounding neighborhoods and areas of the city. There are over 300 locally owned bars and restaurants there. So a whopping 600+ locally owned businesses to support! Just in food and drink!
Oh yeah, we have a checklist so that you can figure out where you have been and where you want to go. It is kind of fun to do with friends and see who has been to more places. But I say all this to just point out I love my city, and this week’s favorites come from my hometown of Detroit, Michigan.
- M1 Rail: When I was growing up, the city looked a lot different than it does now. We have a new light rail system that goes a few miles up the main road of the city, but I am hoping it is just the beginning of greater advancements in transit. I am old enough to remember taking the trolley up Washington Blvd on the weekends and a train or two from the Michigan Central Train station. This extra addition is what I am hoping will push us into a more friendly regional transit position.
- Guardian Building: The Guardian Building is one of the city’s treasures. It is a stop on all of our tours to show off the beauty in this “cathedral to finance” as it was known. This beautiful building was a concept and vision of Wirt Rowland in 1928 and he was given a ‘blank check’ of sorts to create this homage for the Union Trust Bank. The building in it’s splendor was finished in a mere 7 months! There’s more to this story, but you’ll just have to take a tour.
- Riverwalk: This area has not always existed. Historically, it is where Antoine de la Monthe Cadillac decided to settle in this great city of De’troit, which translates literally as the strait. That’s right, the Detroit river is not a river at all. The body of water connects two larger bodies of water, Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie. Mind boggling I know! But this area is where the city started, and now this part of town has grown to become a destination place with a greenway that connects the river to the Eastern Market, a 5 mile riverwalk project that connects the Ambassador Bridge to the famed Belle Isle Park. The project is almost complete and boasts a State Park (Milliken State Park), Chene Park Amphitheter, Rivard Plaza, Mt. Elliot water pad, and many more attractions that are a must see. There is so much going on, but this is just one of those places that you just go to sit and watch the water and the boats.
- Belle Isle: Speaking of Belle Isle, it is another gem of the city of Detroit. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted who was also responsible for Central Park. But to our credit, our park is bigger and has an island, so yeah! Belle Isle has been deemed a DNR park and is run by the state of Michigan. There are plenty of regular programming such as the Detroit Grand Prix, the lovely techno driven Charivari festival, and the many tourist spots on the island. Again, so much to talk about this one area, but you just have to come visit.
- Eastern Market: Ok, so I briefly mentioned our outdoor market, Eastern Market, that has been in existence since 1841. It has been in its current spot since 1891. Eastern Market is unique in that it’s the oldest operating outdoor market in the country. There are markets in other places, but ours is the first and really only market that has been open that long. The market is open on Saturdays year round. Starting June 1, the Tuesday market is back, which is smaller than the regular market days, but still fun. On Sunday, the market is geared more towards local artisans. Saturdays is the perfect day to experience the market. There is Bert’s that has karaoke and a bbq pit out in the streets for all to enjoy, there are 4 sheds that encompass the food vendors from all over the state, and there are shops and restaurants that outline the market itself.
Detroit is a city that has lived up to the motto on our seal, “we hope for better things, it will arise from the ashes.” As a city, we have literally and figuratively rebirthed ourselves to becoming better over our 300+ year history. As a life long Detroiter, I am proud of the accomplishments my city has made. But I have faith that we will continue on a fair and upward path of growth for all residents and business owners. There is so much to share in this lovely city, so come experience it for yourself.