My Visit Home: A Former Detroiter’s Tale Pt. 4

On our fourth day, back in the city of Detroit, it was time to do some sight-seeing! Yeah. Sight seeing. I know that it sounds ridiculous to say that we were excited to tour a city that we knew like the back of our hand. A city whose streets we had walked and clocked probably a billion miles. However, being away from the familiar created a longing that had to be fulfilled. This longing didn’t stop with my husband and I. Our eleven year old caught the Detroit sight-seeing bug, too!

When we first entered into the city limit after that seriously long road trip from Florida, my son’s first request was that we go downtown. Being that I 75 was undergoing some serious rehab, we had to detour unto I 96, which took us directly in the opposite direction. But we promised that the Fosters would not leave the city of Detroit until we headed downtown.

Now, we have been living in Florida for almost three years. A lot of the major superficial transformation of the downtown area happened while we were still residing in the “D.” Ford Field was hosting the Lions in its’ new home. The Tigers were playing in Comerica Park. My husband worked on the plans for Campus Martius and watched those developments on paper come to life. So, what truly interested us was the landmarks. For instance, The Spirit of Detroit. Yet, when we pulled up to the City County Building, to our horror, The Spirit of Detroit was covered for repairs and rehab. How symbolic!

Hart Plaza, another landmark, was bustling with activity. But not like in the days of the Ethnic Festivals! I know some of you can remember those days! I met a lot of cutie pie Debarge, Michael Jackson and Prince look-a-likes at the Festivals! Mom, your suspicions were correct! But that wasn’t the only reason why me and my friends frequented the Festivals every summer. Just being downtown, walking along the river front, enjoying the smells of barbeque everything, the exotic fragrances of the many different cultures represented, being amongst the thousands of people who were all at Hart Plaza for the same purpose: to enjoy the Detroit night air and sounds and the beautiful Windsor skyline.

We drove through the world-famous Greek Town. Though greatly altered due to casino parking structures, Greek Town is still a cool spot for some GREAT FOOD! I just hate the fact that the casino is smack dead in the center of it. Instead of people taking that two mile walk from Hart Plaza into Brick then Greek Town and really getting that whole Detroit vibe, the casino has sucked this part of downtown Detroit dry of its’ lifeblood. I know that with time there are changes and movement for the better. But I never once thought that the casino in the middle of Greek Town was a good thing. I bet Greek Town business owners probably feel the same way right about now.

After driving around downtown and seeing the various sights, we headed towards our former home. On the way up Jefferson, what sane Detroiter can resist stopping at Belle Isle? On this particular day, the Detroit Department of Parks and Recreation were out and about with their landscaping duties, getting the park ready for Fourth of July picnickers. Belle Isle is still one of the most beautiful spots in Detroit.

Our former home rests on the dividing line of Detroit and Grosse Pointe. So, drivng into Grosse Pointe made me feel like I was truly home again. So much of my time, my family’s time was spent in one of the three Grosse Pointes. Whether it was shopping for groceries at my favorite store, Kroger Premier, on Kercheval, or my husband’s favorite Kroger on Mack and Moross, eating breakfast at either The Original Pancake House or The Country Kitchen, auditioning for parts at the Grosse Pointe Theatre (yes, I am a trained actress! That’s a little known fact!), taking the kids for a stroll and ice cream, or meeting my favorite sistafriends at my ‘other’ home, Borders (where I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Detroit’s own Anita Baker and the legendary Vandellas!).

Riding through the Pointes on Jefferson Ave and viewing the great Detroit River as it turns into Lake St. Clair is an awesome sight! Being that close to the water and smelling the breeze from it is breathtaking! I took a lot of pictures of yachts and just ordinary boats out sailing on this partly sunny day. I am aware that Grosse Pointe is not Detroit, but it is tighly linked to the city. In fact, there are parts of Grosse Pointe that once was considered a part of Detroit. The Grosse Pointe War Memorial used to be The Detroit Institute of Arts home. And before that, it was the official Detroit Mayoral residence  back in the 1920’s and 30’s. Way before Mr. Manoogian bequeathed his mansion to the City of Detroit.

Our sight-seeing adventure was a great one. We met up with old neighborhood friends and acquaintances that hadn’t forgotten us. We reminisced about the good and not so good times that all of us shared together in Detroit. We even got a glimpse of the new River Walk. A word about that: with the city in such bad shape, why was millions spent on this instead of being pumped into neighorhoods such as the Livernois/Eight Mile and Dexter/Elmhurst areas? A lot of old-timers still live in homes they bought fifty and sixty years ago. These seniors have been forgotten. They will more than likely never take a step on the River Walk. But they are still bound by law to pay their taxes…and on time…every year. What exactly is their taxes really doing for them? Garbage gets picked up haphazardly. Crime is over-abundant. Schools are closing at an alarming rate. Entire neighborhoods are either being burned out or bull-dozered. Neighborhood first-rate grocery stores are non-existant. Public transportation is shady at best. If it bleeds, it leads news broadcasts. A city goverment at war. And according to Sam Riddle, Detroit is the most corrupt city in the nation.

Something to think about.

Lover, Fighter, Friend, Journalist, and Activist.

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One comment on “My Visit Home: A Former Detroiter’s Tale Pt. 4
  1. Dominic says:

    I love going on tours throughout downtown as well even though I live here. And I totally agree with you about the whole Greektown Casino thing.

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July 2008
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