Detroit 2008

Over the last few decades, Detroit has acquired a rather unflattering reputation and many people are hesitant to travel to Detroit. For me, however, Detroit has long held a certain fascination as the cradle of the automotive industry and essentially of modern mass production. In its role as the headquarters of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, Detroit became an incredibly wealthy city and the city’s stunning early 20th century architecture is a legacy of that heady era. Unfortunately Detroit experienced a sharp decline in the second half of the 20th century and is still reeling from the most recent recession.

However, my four day trip to Detroit became one of my most interesting travel adventures as of yet. Through a variety of guided driving and walking tours I got to see many of the city’s stunning monuments, waterfront parks, pleasant neighbourhoods and historic skyscrapers. I also got exposed to the urban blight that has afflicted Detroit. I learned about architectural and community rejuvenation that has been taking place in different parts of Detroit and had a chance to meet a number of entrepreneurs and visionaries that are working hard to make the city better. In a visit to the Gleaner Food Bank I saw how empty urban lots, “urban prairie” as they say, were being turned into farmland and job opportunities for the locals.

Renowned local artist Tyrie Guyton showed me the famous Heidelberg project, where he used discarded objects and bright colours to express his frustration and draw attention to Detroit’s urban problems. I got to stay at the historic Westin Book Cadillac Hotel, a gorgeous historic hotel from 1924, that lay in ruins for several decades but recently underwent a stunning renovation to the tune of $200 million. Today this hotel is again the grande dame of Detroit hotels and one of the foremost examples of the revitalization efforts that have been underway in different parts of the city. A cycling tour through Corktown and Mexicantown exposed me to other vibrant areas of Detroit and I learned a lot about 20th century history in this fascinating, contradictory city.

Finally it was time for another excursion. As a true architecture buff, Detroit had been on my radar for a long time, and I definitely wanted to explore this unique city in detail. So for… Read more.

After my explorations of Windsor I had about an hour and a half to explore Detroit on my own before my scheduled driving tour of the city. With its impressive 20th century architectural heritage, Detroit… Read more.

On my second day in Detroit I got a great start to the day with a scrumptious breakfast at the just reopened Westin Book Cadillac Hotel: a strawberry waffle with whipped cream. That’s one menu… Read more.

After having learned so much about architecture during my morning walking tour of downtown Detroit, we embarked on another urban discovery: a walking tour through Brush Park, one of Detroit’s historic residential areas with a… Read more.

It was still dark outside when I woke up from my restful slumber at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel. There was some commotion going on outside on the street: thousands of people were milling about… Read more.

My abode for my last two days in Detroit was the Inn on Ferry Street, a beautifully renovated complex of six historic buildings in the Midtown area of Detroit. It encompasses four mansions as well… Read more.

One of the main reasons I had come to Detroit was the fantastic architecture that this city has to offer. Detroit celebrated its heyday in the early 20th century when the automobile industry took off,… Read more.

My discoveries of Detroit were slowly but surely coming to an end, and I had seen so many interesting places already in my whirlwind tour over the last four days. Just before I was ready… Read more.