36 Hours in Detroit
Detroit is beautiful.
There, I said it. And at least one person agrees with me.
You may remember Steve Savich from his photo essay he did for the Detroit blog about the Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Bank marathon. The Detroit-area native and I got to chatting one night about some of the buildings in Detroit. About how we wish others could see the city they way we did.
Hence, this new photo essay. I asked Steve, who was coming in to visit friends, to document a weekend in Detroit. He and his friends hit all of their favorite haunts: bars. Oh, and a few stores and architectural gems like Michigan Central Station.
His friends in the photos are George Ambrozy, a student at Wayne State University. He works at the newly opened store Hugh in a former toothpaste factory building. He is also the assistant to Scarab Club President and Wayne State University Prof. James Tottis. The other is Robert Belloni, a 2007 graduate of Wayne State University. He is a manager and waiter at his family's restaurant The Caucus Club in the Penobscot Building. His family has owned the restaurant for nearly 20 years.
On Fridays, I like the blog to feel more relaxed -- like an entry into the weekend. Here's one man's take on why Detroit is a great city -- and the beauty he sees.
I rolled into Detroit around 10 pm. on Friday, Nov. 6th. Like always, I met with Rob and George at the Scarab Club and we headed up to studio 6 for some pre-drinks. At this particular time, George had Fela Kuti spinning on the record player. The windows in studio 6 face north and you can't help but look out at the city. The giant American flag atop the Park Shelton is always busy doing a dance, even on non-windy days.
After an hour at the Scarab, we met up with some friends at the new Bookies location for one drink before we walked to the Town Pump. This bar was not always a bar. Before Detroiters were killing brain cells with booze, they were creating them by reading as this space used to be a library. After throwing back a couple drinks we headed back to the Scarab and called it a night.
We woke up around 9:30 and headed to Slows to grab a bite to eat. Slows opened a couple years ago and was an immediate success. The restaurant is in “Detroit's Oldest Neighborhood," Corktown. Slows has done a great job to bring some sense of community to the neighborhood after the demolition of its most popular landmark, Tiger Stadium.
After we ate, I met up with George to ride our bikes around the city. We both have 20” BMX bikes. Once we were ready to hit the streets, we took off and headed south towards downtown. We took John R for a bit then crossed over to Brush Street. At this point, we were in the Brush park neighborhood. This area is a mix of old, vacant homes and new developments. The buildings in this area are beautiful (mostly Victorian architecture). The new developments mimic the architecture.
Once we made it downtown, we hit Michigan Avenue and made a b-line back to Corktown. We were headed to the train station to do some urban exploration. The train station is surrounded by fencing and razor wire. There are signs threatening prosecution for trespassing. Some sneak under the fence to get in, but many people know the secret, easier way to get in. The inside is destroyed and covered with graffiti, but it still finds a way to remain beautiful.
On the way back home, we hit up some of Detroit's landmarks (Spirit of Detroit, Joe Louis Fist). When George took off for work, Rob came back downtown and picked me up. We went to his family's restaurant, The Caucus Club, for dinner.
Afterward, Rob and I headed to the Detroit Athletic Club for a little relaxation. The DAC is an architectural masterpiece. From the carpeting to the solid wood framework and intricate ceilings, every detail gets attention. The pool is believed to be the first ever to be built multiple stories up (it's on the 4th floor). Sitting at a back table I could have imagined myself in the same position 60 years ago.
After drinks we went to Hugh, as George had to work for about another hour. Hugh recently opened and is a retail shop selling anything from furniture to flasks. The name is modeled after Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. We grabbed some drinks from next door, the Centaur Bar, and casually sipped as clientele came in and out, browsing at merchandise. George made a couple sales and wrapped things up and we headed to the Park Bar. After that we went to a newly opened bar, AFB (Another F**king Bar), for a night cap. We headed back to the Scarab Club to sleep.
I woke up at 9ish and started to gather my stuff. I said my goodbyes and headed to St. Clair Shores to see my family before I hopped on I-94 bound for Chicago.