Monday, September 30, 2013

Detroit: First thoughts

I like to travel without expectations. I knew that Detroit had gone bankrupt; I knew it had been built for several million people and it was now populated by about 250 thousand. I went with my friend and collaborator Sarah for just two days last week. We went looking for the local art scene and we went to explore abandoned architecture. 
We had read about the downfall, the revitalization, the urban farming, and of course those abandoned buildings. 
Here is what I observed: 
Income disparity is evident everywhere. The subway only has 2 cars. The streets are wide and very empty.   
The street lights are not on everywhere at night. 
GM waters its extensive lawns and casinos light up the skyline in a city where the street lights are not all on at night. 
We did not see a single grocery store; the downtown drug store had a caged attendant. 
The ubiquitous "Cheks/Liquor/Pizza" mini mall glowing in the night was the hub of activity in many neighbourhoods. 
There are whole neighbourhoods where most houses are gone; in the remaining lots there is farming, art installations and land gone fallow, the crickets are loud and cars are few. People are friendly, we asked the locals what to see, where to eat, and what to watch out for. 
We left wanting to stay longer; wanting to explore more. Here is a small selection of the many photos I took.

Michigan Ave: three lanes each direction.

 Downtown from certain angles looks like any other city.

 Michigan Central Station: Our first stop as it dominates the horizon; surrounded by barbed wire, guarded by police.

 Downtown at night.

The burbs.


Great local coffee 

The Diego Rivera murals at the Art Institute 

 Art Nouveau furniture at the Art Institute

The Public Library 

The bus terminal

That's all for now. In the next Detroit instalment: the Packard Plant and the abandoned zoo!
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