Part 1 of a series
The letter “D” can stand for many things…direction, dining, diversity and discovery, to name a few. In the case of Detroit, Michigan, the letter “D” stands for all of the above. “The D” not only stands for one of several nicknames for Detroit, but it also stands for the city’s Direction. Detroit is the only city in the continental U.S. where you can look south to see Canada.
|LOOKING AT WINDSOR, CANADA FROM DETROIT RIVERFRONT|
“D” also stands for dining…a city in the midst of a culinary transformation whereby Zagat recently declared Detroit third on its list of the hottest up-and-coming food cities. The “D” is also for its many diverse districts such as Downtown, Foxtown, Greektown, Corktown, Midtown, and Rivertown. Last, but not least, “D” is for discovery… my discovery of “America’s Great Comeback City”.
Detroiters pride themselves in saying: “Champions always find a way to come back.” If that is the case, then Detroit is the champion of champions. Like a phoenix, Detroit is rising from the ashes of a shattered city. A once dying metropolis of abandoned buildings and a bleeding population, it has risen to the challenge and is making an unprecedented comeback. New life has been breathed into iconic landmarks and classic buildings that abut gleaming glass and steel structures. Where graffiti once covered deserted buildings, murals are now being painted on restored ones.
|MURAL BEING PAINTED IN GREEKTOWN|
DOWNTOWN Detroit is a now nexus of activity where Millennials are flocking back to live in urban town houses and high-rise buildings. Comerica Park is one of the many highlights of Downtown Detroit. It primarily serves as the home ballpark for the Detroit Tigers, who moved to the venue from Tiger Stadium in 2000. Downtown also has plethora of entertainment and cultural offerings such as music venues, casinos, and an opera house. There is also a wide variety of renowned restaurants downtown. On hot days you can cool off in the fountains on the Riverwalk, and during the colder months you can skate at Campus Martius Park.
|TIGERS STAND GUARD OVER THEIR COMERICA PARK|
CORKTOWN founded, in 1834, is Detroit's oldest surviving neighborhood and was originally home to Detroit’s Irish immigrant community. It has been listed as one of the “50 Most Stylish Neighborhoods in the World”. Architecturally, the neighborhood combines an assortment of historic working class houses with grander Victorian homes. The area has seen signs of rebirth, with lots of eateries and shops, plus many of the late 1800s-era homes restored and townhouses filling in the vacant area. Corktown is home to the grand, but now decaying, Beaux-Arts Classical-style Michigan Central Train Station.
MICHIGAN CENTRAL STATION WAS DEDICATED ON JANUARY 4, 1914
MIDTOWN is one of the fastest developing areas in Detroit with a wide array of buildings spanning Detroit’s architectural history from turn-of-the-century mansions and Victorian homes to masterpieces such as the Fisher building and Cadillac Place. It also has its share of funky industrial spaces reimagined as lofts, shops, and creative incubators. The two-square mile district is home to Wayne State University, nationally recognized medical centers, and the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). Whatever you do, do not miss Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry fresco cycle at the DIA. Rivera considered this his best and most successful work.
|ONE OF DIEGO RIVERA’S DETROIT INDUSTRY MURALS|
FOXTOWN is home to the spectacular Fox Theatre that was opened in 1928 by film pioneer William Fox., it was Detroit's premier movie destination for decades. In the 1930s, Shirley Temple made appearances when the theater showed her films. Decades later, after a 1988 restoration, the theatre staged notable performances such as a concert with Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Lliza Minnelli. The Fox was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989.
|THE RESTORED FOX THEATRE IS DETROIT’S CROWN JEWEL|
GREEKTOWN, a small but vibrant enclave in downtown Detroit, has the atmosphere and authentic feel of old world Greece. Kali mera (good morning). Each morning, I awakened in the Greektown Casino Hotel, (soon to be rebranded “Jack Detroit Casino-Hotel Greektown” by owner/mogul Dan Gilbert). I lunched on traditional Greek Moussaka at Pegasus Taverna, and shouted “Opa!” when they torched the brandy for the flaming Saganaki (Kasseri cheese).
BLAZING SAGANAKI (KASSERI CHEESE)
I finished off my lunch with honey drenched Baklava, the traditional Greek pastry. Then it was out to the streets where a bus labeled the Ouzo Cruzo shuttled its passengers past restaurants with names like Plaka and Santorini. Great time in Greektown. Efharisto! (Thank you!)
My most recent trip to Detroit combined Detroit classics with remarkable transformations. I explored historic museums and newly developed spaces that immersed me in the culture and spirit behind the Detroit comeback story. The vibe of Detroit, America's Great Comeback City, pulsates from the bustling suburbs, to the heart of downtown, to the vibrant waterfront. Go see for yourself.
JANET STEINBERG is an award-winning Travel Writer/Editor and International Travel Consultant with THE TRAVEL AUTHORITY in Mariemont, Ohio