This is a love letter to Detroit.
It’s not a place for the faint of heart; it’s not Disneyland, the Mall of America, or the Las Vegas strip.
Detroit is gritty and honest; perhaps the most honest place I’ve ever been. It’s both new and old, beautiful and broken.
A trip to Detroit will leave you haunted yet invigorated, and its authenticity may alarm you.
“Don’t go to Detroit, you’ll get stabbed,” they said.
“It’s the most dangerous place in America,” they said.
“Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection last year,” they said.
Detroit is a dichotomy. Yes, there are abandoned buildings, lots of them. Yes, there is decay and poverty, lots of it. But the people of Detroit haven’t given up on their city, and neither should you.
Signs of new development and community projects include Dequindre Cut Greenway, The Heidelberg Project, the bicycle lanes (yes, this auto centric city is actually big on cycling), a thriving new business scene, which includes standouts like Slows Bar BQ, Astro Coffee, Sugar House, Motor City Brew Works, El Dorado General Store, Anthology Coffee, and Trinosophes. Of course, the Eastern Market (oldest and biggest of its kind in America) is still a must-visit. Talk to any of the young creatives who inhabit this city, and their energy will inspire you.
My favourite brunch was at Parks and Rec Diner, newly opened and housed in the iconic G.A.R. building!
As far as where to stay, I’d suggest booking Honor & Folly, a design-focused bed and breakfast right above Slows!
Detroit was shaped by risk takers and visionaries. A quick visit to the Henry Ford museum and the Ford Rouge Factory will provide you with some context of how this industrial city was shaped. I can’t overstate how the rise and fall of the automobile is at the core of Detroit’s demise. The factory still pumps out F150s according to dealership orders, and every employee can answer any question you might have about Henry and the automotive industry. There’s even a rooftop garden you can visit as part of the tour.
A visit to Corktown (where we stayed) will surely surprise you. Detroit’s oldest neighbourhood is experiencing a revival with the influx of restaurants, public artworks, markets, and parks. We happened upon a modern marching band festival, “Crash Detroit” while exploring the area. We sipped cocktails made from local ingredients while gazing up at the both derelict and awe-inspiring Michigan Central Station. Unlike Toronto, which is highly regulated, the security guard at Crash Detroit encouraged us to leave the beer garden to dance and mingle. “Enjoy yourselves, this is Detroit after all.”