Detroit – Come Back City
I am fortunate enough to get to travel extensively for work and spend significant time in various cities. Like enough time in New York to now know how to navigate almost anywhere by subway without looking at a map first. Or in Turin where I refined my pasta palette and ability to traverse a mountain pass in a tiny Lancia.
This year, I have spent the same lengthy time in Detroit. Over two cumulative months of time in the Motor City exploring all of its nooks and crannies. I can assure you, it truly is a comeback city. A model of my idealist vision of the redemptive power of American ingenuity and determination.
Detroit’s architecture is timeless. Heavy and classic. The stone, steel, and intricate brickwork are the materials that embody a city that is “Built To Last.” Stately and profound, it is at the same time Mid-Century, Classic, and Modern. And LAST, it should. Too often in the American landscape we want to move onto the new shiny object. We fail to engage our creativity and refresh / rebuild what is already there.
So much has been said about Detroit. Mostly negative in recent history. Some rightfully so, being the only major American city to file for bankruptcy. But I want to help change that narrative. Something that is hard to achieve in this age of “Cancel Culture.” It doesn’t help when the super privileged (Mitt Romney), say just let it fail, because they lack the vision to see what could be.
But people like Dan Gilbert could see the potential. And thanks to efforts like Bedrock Detroit, the city is back with so much to offer. A vibrant Art scene, live music, diverse food, adaptive reuse of old structures, sports teams, a beer scene hard to rival, and so much more. Canada is just over the border, offering all our polite neighbors to the north have to share. Interesting fact, Windsor is the only point along the border where Canada sits below the US.
The 313 is perfect for any traveler. It offers so many types of hotels, some newly renovated or built, others long term staples. The city itself is extremely walkable; though lacking in a robust mass transit system. Even with the limited transportation option, the perfect summer weather commands you to be outside walking to the concerts, eateries and relishing in the extremely creative Detroit Street Art Scene.
Detroit is a truly a classic American City in every sense. As I said before, it’s architecture is heavy and exudes the confidence of the American Manufacturing dominance of days gone by. The buildings styles range from Brutalist Monoliths, to Modernist Glass towers, to craftsmen Brick and Mortar structures, and everything else in between. Dotted in around the landscape are sculptures and murals that celebrate creativity and art. The combination of structures and design have helped to make Detroit a UNESCO City of Design. So much so that there is a month long festival that takes place in September showcasing its best over many events.
#Detroit is the first and only UNESCO City of Design in the United States and in honor of this title, @DesignCoreDet hosted the #DetroitMonthOfDesign September of 2019. Like the year before, the month-long event featured exclusive talks, tours, exhibitions, workshops, open studios, installations, and special projects all over the city! Learn more at @designcoredet
The Detroit Institute of Arts is a MUST see. The building itself is an amazing piece of architectural history. Blending modern materials and pieces, side-by-side with historical pieces and marble structures. The permanent and rotating exhibits are well curated, and spaced in a way that draw you from room to room with absolute ease. The DIA ranks among the top 6 permanent collections in the US.
Over my weeks in Detroit I have compiled a list of my favorite places and saved them to a Foursquare list. I have also included a sample itinerary for a 3-day weekend in Detroit below. If you can, try and snag a room at the new Shinola Hotel which may be the best hotel in the country. I hope you go and enjoy Detroit. I hope you spread its story. And I hope you come to celebrate the redemptive power of The Spirit of Detroit.
Friday: Lunch at Townhouse (Detroit Pizza), stroll and shopping down Woodward Avenue, dinner at the Standby, drinks at Evening Bar.
Saturday: Morning at MadCap Coffee, lunch at Parc or Urban Ramen, afternoon at the Detroit Institute of Art, beers at Batch Brewery, dinner at Green Dot Stables, finish with a Pistons, Red Wings, Lions or Tigers Game.
Sunday: Brunch at Grey Ghost, stroll around Eastern Market to Anthology Coffee, walk down Dequindre Cut to the River Walk to a swing around Belle Isle Park, dinner at San Morello followed by drinks at Sugar House.