Most of you know that I’ve been trying to get Hubby to take us to Detroit for a long time now. I guess dragging him to San Pedro Sula, “the murder capital of the world”, it finally convinced him that Detroit should be just fine. So I scoured the internet in search of a “one day in Detroit” driving tour, and sure enough, I found something awesome! I plugged the destinations from One Day In Detroit into Google Maps and off we went. It was pretty easy to follow, and if you really only have a short amount of time it will capture all the highlights.
The Joe Louis Fist and Corktown
I narrated while Hubby drove and we tried to learn a little history about each little spot on the tour.
Joe Louis was an American professional boxer who competed from 1934 to 1951, and the monument represents the power of his punch both inside and outside the ring. Because of Louis’ efforts to fight Jim Crow laws.
Corktown is a historic district. The Great Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s resulted in extensive Irish migration to the United States and Canada. By the middle of the 19th century, they were the largest ethnic group settling in Detroit. Many of these newcomers settled on the west side of the city; they were primarily from County Cork, and thus the neighborhood came to be known as Corktown.
Michigan Central Station
Michigan Central Station replaced the original depot and was formally dedicated on January 4, 1914. The station remained open until January 6, 1988. Comprising a train depot and 13-story and 2 mezzanine level office tower with a roof height of 230 feet, it was the tallest rail station in the world at the time of its construction.
Packard Automotive Plant is a former automobile-manufacturing factory. The 3,500,000-square-foo plant is located on 40 acres of land on the city’s east side. It included the first use of reinforced concrete in the United States for industrial construction in the automobile industry. The Packard plant opened in 1903 and was considered the most modern automobile manufacturing facility in the world, with skilled craftsmen involved in over eighty trades. The factory complex closed in 1958, though other businesses operated on the premises or used it for storage until the late 1990s. In the 1990s, the buildings were used to host infamous “underground” raves and techno parties. Now the Packard Plant has a new future awaiting. Honestly, it seems like much of Detroit is getting a “Millennial Makeover”.
The Heidelberg Project
The Heidelberg Project is an outdoor art project the east side. It was created in 1986 by artist Tyree Guyton. The Heidelberg Project is in part a political protest, as Tyree Guyton’s childhood neighborhood began to deteriorate after the 1967 riots. At first, the project consisted of his painting a series of houses on Detroit’s Heidelberg Street with bright dots of many colors and attaching salvaged items to the houses. It was a constantly evolving work that transformed a hard-core inner city neighborhood where people were afraid to walk, even in daytime, into one in which neighbors took pride. Despite the area being characterized by high levels of blight and poverty, the evolving art work grew.
Tyree’s project is all about “You” and “The time is now”, his words, because we were fortunate enough to actually meet him. It was a great pleasure to ask him questions and hear his personal account of the projects impact and meaning. This is definitely a must do!
Detroit as a whole is oddly beautiful. The history, the age, the rejuvenation of the area. It was all even more amazing than I expected. Driving around this old city was kind of surreal. On one corner there would be a beautiful brick mansion, and right across is the remnants of someones home, or perhaps even their current home. You couldn’t go a city block with the intermixing of new and old, tattered and fresh, a city full of contrasts, and constantly reminding yourself that you’re not in a third world country, you’re right here in the states.
In and Around The City