Monday, February 22, 2010

don't knock the D

Detroit gets an awfully bad rap. The huge numbers of abandoned buildings and homes, some incredibly beautiful, are a very sad and a very visible symbol of the decay of the city.

But there is still a lot of life in this city. You can't help but love Detroit and Detroiters--the people who hang on in this rust belt city and love it no matter what. My best friend lives there, and so I am lucky to get a little taste of the D about once a month or so, a taste that helps alleviate the occasional longings I have for my previous home, another city I will always love--New York.

Detroit, I love you and I don't care what they say about you. I'll keep coming back.

Here is a very photo-heavy post about my weekend in Detroit. I hope these photos will give those of you who have never been a little taste of this city, which is still vibrant in many places and ways.

The Dakota Inn, a German restaurant in Detroit, open since 1933. I recommend the sauerbraten and spaetzle. Here are my friends Lori and Abram in their chicken hats.

We stuffed ourselves silly at the Dakota, so we did not partake of the soul food at the eccentric and friendly Café D'Mongo's Speakeasy. But we did have drinks. And were taken on an impromptu tour of Detroit's only synagogue, which is next door.

This eerie, half torn-down building was near our hotel. The entire facade had come down, so you could look right into the building as though it had been sliced in half. The photo is blurry, but there is a big excavator in front on a giant pile of rubble.

At the Detroit Institute of Art, Henry Ford is showing auto workers a dog-shaped rendition of an automobile engine in Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry mural. You could stare at it and listen to the docents talk about it all day long and you would still not know everything going on in this huge and stunning work. One fun new thing I learned is that Rivera placed two images of his favorite actress, Jean Harlow, in it!

The beautiful Wisteria Gates by Thomas Hastings, at the DIA. These were made for Henry Frick, who decided he didn't want them. New York's loss is Detroit's gain.

Caution: Knowledge is Power at the Detroit Public Library.

Abram looking très French at sunny Le Petit Zinc (thank you,
Lauren for the tip!). Love the big bowls of tea and goat cheese crêpe.

Speaking of Miss Dear Golden, I did get to meet the lovely Lauren herself on Saturday night at Cliff Bell's. Unfortunately, we got there much later than expected due to the epic wait at Slow's BBQ (that place exerts a crack-like influence over everyone in my group, including me. Damn you Slow's!). Thus, by the time we reached Cliff Bell's, I sadly did not get to spend a lot of time with Lauren. But that will be remedied soon I hope! She, of course, was gorgeous, in a fabulous hat and dress. I, of course, was a dolt and didn't take a photo.

I did take a ton of photos on Sunday at the Heidelberg Project.

The Arboretum at Belle Isle.

Wall molding at the Grand Trunk Pub, which is in the former Grand Trunk Railway ticket office (lots and lots of delicious Michigan beer poured here).

The Art Deco beauty of the Guardian Building.

Many more photos
here on my Flickr photostream.


  1. It does look like a very vibrant city! I've never been but I love to travel so maybe I'll have the fortune of being able to visit some day! I live in St Louis which also has some pretty scary parts but it really is a very beautiful, interesting city with a lot of history.

  2. Brittany, I was born in St. Louis! But we moved away when I was only 7, to suburban Colorado. I spent the years until I was 18 (when I left for college in New York and then spent 12 years there) dreaming of moving back to a real, gritty city.

  3. I love all this photos!!! Looks like a very busy and exciting visit, and so much fun. Love that very first pic with the awesome suitcases!

  4. I'm getting ready for a tiny vacay today......and will be packing my old leather cases....just like you!

    thanks for posting this about your trip to Detroit....we only hear know. Tacoma is similar (on a much much smaller scale),and used to be so decayed, and has some gorgeous things because of wealthy people spending money on art and libraries and parks.....I do like decay. I'm always sad to see too much gentrification.
    I love the pictures you took...and shared with us. I have a new mindset of things to think about Detroit....

  5.! this is a super post, i love it, i am passing it on! AND, you hit one of my most beloved spots in the D, Cafe D'Mongo, how bizarre IS that place!? also, you were so sweet to mention me, and so sweetly. and then sending me sweets, which i am still eating. speaking of them, i could use a chocolate cardamom cookie now...maybe i can get Chad to deliver me one here in bed...

  6. Hi - just discovered your very lovely blog and shop via clever nettle. I was particularly interested in this post as I have just read an article about abandoned buildings in Detroit - the most amazingly beautiful and moving images by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre:

    You might like it!

  7. Hi Mary! I'm so glad you found me via Anja's wonderful blog. :) I also thank you for the link to those amazing photos!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin