Day 1 – Road Trip, East Coast: Part 2 of 2: Detroit

Link to the photos: Here

Once I finished talking to the man near the river, I was ready for some more exploration. I continued to drive through the no-one-in-sight places of downtown. I got lucky when I managed to make it to the nicer part of the river side. It was more welcoming to me leaving the car, with my camera and extra lense on hand, and my flip video. There were people fishing, walking along the nicely paved walkway, and others, like myself, relaxing and enjoying the cool breeze and sunshine that couldn’t been more than 80 degrees.

I was able to take a couple of photos of the people who were fishing and also the people chilling in the shade. My trip was getting better and I wanted to soak in all that I went through and still marvel in the fact that I came to a city that was getting a bad rap for being poor and all. I stayed at the waterfront for 30 or so minutes.

I decided it was time to drive through downtown. I noticed that it was clean with many bars in the area, and of course casinos. Just by the look of it, I was looking forward to coming back downtown for the night life.

The next stop was Motown, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I tracked the address on my GPS and made my way over. When I got there I was surprised with the amount of cars parked on the street. I saw this sign over this small house that read, Hittsville-I was still confused. I was talking to myself and saying, “Where the fuck is Motown, where is it?”. I got out of the car, walked where everyone else was snapping pictures, and realized that this, was in fact, the Motown I was looking for. I thought the whole thing was bullshit, probably because I was thinking of a mega building that housed some of the greatest hits this place gave to the world. It took me a couple of days to realize that the shear tininess of this ‘house’, that was located in a residential neighborhood, was where it all happened. I wish I would have appreciated then, as I do now.

I didn’t go into the museum. I wanted to see what was happening around the neighborhood, so I drove behind and all over. It didn’t surprise me when I saw more abandon houses, dirty streets, and graffiti everywhere. It was as if that was the norm and that was just the way things were and going to be for some time.

I was running out of options, I didn’t know what else to see. I could either go to another depressing side of the city or to another depressing side. I chose to go to Highland Park (more shitty-ness). Driving on the main street, I noticed that the houses were nice and presentable to the rest of the neighborhood. Clean drive ways and people outside enjoying the day. However, once I drove into the neighborhood, I saw the same shit: houses abandoned, pot holes everywhere, and people, many of them, outside on their porches relaxing.

I made my way to the infamous 8th mile road. I didn’t see much from the main street, but noticed shit inside the neighborhood. This was becoming a broken record, and I was becoming more and more depressed. I was like, “Is this what I wanted to see? Is this what Detroit had to offer?”, I even noticed a couple of prostitutes at a corner store waiting to start work early. The shit got to me, I was beyond low and realized that the trip was at an all-time oppressive state.

I didn’t want to do much else. I still had to return the car and get another one for the long road trip the next morning. I didn’t even want to make the 40 mile trip back into Detroit for the night life that my friend, who is from Detroit, told me that it is like Houston but with casinos, he also stated that I wouldn’t be missing a thing.

I didn’t know what to think of Detroit at that present moment. All I was worry about was getting some sleep and getting the hell out of there. It is funny that I say that now, I did that very thing of getting the fuck out of there; but the people of Detroit couldn’t just do what I did. Yes, they could have just left and tried to find another life for themselves. But, how could that be possible with no money and no real hope for a future. I was this kid who decided to make a trip to Detroit, with the only reason of seeing what hell looked like. I don’t think I found hell, but something that looked, felt, and smelled close to it. I became ashamed of my reasoning and wanted to leave as quickly as possible.

I decided to end the drive through Detroit relatively early and travel to Ann Arbor. I saw the beautiful campus of Michigan University. It was trees, bridges, rivers going through this quiet and secluded college town. I could see why people would want to come there. After this short drive, I grabbed some Chipotle, and headed back to my dirty, run-down hotel for the night. This place was perhaps the crappiest place I’ve ever stayed in. It had dim lighting, a faint-old smell, the carpet looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in a couple of weeks, and who knows what was underneath the sheets (I didn’t even pull them back, I wasn’t going to expose my body to the creatures that were waiting for me).

I took a 3-4 hour nap, did my morning writing, and headed to New York City…

5 responses to “Day 1 – Road Trip, East Coast: Part 2 of 2: Detroit”

  1. I really enjoyed reading about your Detroit experience! Very nicely done! I am glad you were able to see some good along with the bad. Keep it up!

  2. Ellen,

    Detroit was a cool place. The abandon buildings became scenes from movies, but I did enjoy, of what I saw, there. I am interested to see what Flint and Pontiac look like. I will go back there to see how bad it is, I just don’t know when.

  3. Yes, Detroit has potholes and abandon buildings and is somewhat grimey. Yes the crime level is high and the city has seen better days. But the people in Detroit also have the determination and fortitude to keep going. They have moments of joy, pain, happiness and sadness like everyone else. They have moments when they feel like they’re in Heaven (Yes! in Detroit) and hell…one doesn’t constantly shadow the other.
    What everyone looks at when they pass through Detroit is the infrastructure, but they don’t see the attitudes of the people and the resiliant spirit that allows the people to deflect all the negativity that is constantly flinged at them from the media and others. To be able to see the posititves of the city you’ll have to stay a while. There is a lot there to appreciate, but to be able to do that, a previous opinion of the city should not have been formed either one way or another.

  4. Shelly,

    That is the reason why I went to Detroit, to form my own opinion, not depend on the media to do my thinking. You are right about spending more time there to talk to the people; I was able to speak to one man that changed my view of the city. As I walked along the pier near downtown, I saw the people smiling, laughing, and living a simple and happy life.

    I got a question for you. Where in Detroit would you find the people to talk to? That is one thing that I wished I got more of (rather than the abandon buildings).

  5. One place you may want to try is Greektown in downtown Detroit. That area has a lot of pedestrian traffic at night. Go to Wayne State University towards downtown Detroit (Warren Ave) that area also has a lot of pedestrian traffic, but in the afternoon. Also, it is one of the cultural centers in the city. The Science Center is there and the Art museum. Take a ride out to Belle Isle park or go to some of the suburbs like Dearborn, Southfield and Livonia. They are part of Metropolitan Detroit and will provide encompassing viewpoints. Go inside the Ren Cen and talk to some of the people who work there in the different stores. If you dig into the city a little deeper, you may be surprised.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *