Detroit, full day
The city is big and getting someone to drive us around was key. Our driver grew up in the Black Bottom section of Detroit and he knew the neighborhoods and what was happening in his city. A wealth of information that we took absolute advantage and delight in our conversation with him over the day.
Our first stop was Trinosophes for coffee and breakfast. I have been following Warda Patisserie on Instagram. She was going to open inside Trinosophes but unfortunately not until September so that was a bit of a bummer although our coffee was delicious and our buttermilk biscuit with strawberry jam hit the spot.
Across the street from this coffee shop that also serves as a jazz music venue and art gallery is across the street from Eastern Market. Eastern Market has a huge greenmarket on Saturday that gives me another reason to return. The market is over 150 years old supporting the butchers, florists and vegetable wholesalers that support the area.
Our next stop was DIA (Detroit Institute of Arts). The building reflects European architecture styles from different time periods making this the museum unique and certainly centrally to the area. We saw a few school trips there which always makes me happy to see. This courtyard, that was given a glass roof in 1981, that feels like an Italian medieval palace, is where the coffee shop stands.
One of the installations was called Making Home highlighting work from the museum. New curators in the Contemporary Art department used the idea of home for this installation after reading Homegoing (highly recommend) and Warmth of the Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (have not read this one but have read others about the black migration from the South to the Midwest). It was a really good exhibit. The works were organized around the themes childhood imagination, home and community, urbanization, displacement, security, domesticity, melancholy and the sublime. I particularly loved this piece by Abelardo Morrell, of his children lying in the shadow of their home.
The Diego Rivera Court is outstanding. These murals are an ode to the industrial process. They are breathtaking.
Another installation around Baseball. Not my thing but this piece by Robert Moskowitz is quite good.
After the museum, we stopped in the Detroit Artists Market. It is a fantastic gallery that has local artist shows and carries a slew of ceramics, jewelry and other mediums of local artists. We both bought some wonderful ceramics. This place was just great.
Afterward, we made our way to SW Detroit to check out a few grocery stores. The Honey Bee Market is a family owned business that has been providing fresh produce and food to this predominantly Mexican neighborhood for 50 years. The chips, guacamole, and salsa that is set out for everyone to enjoy when entering the grocery is well worth the trip.
We also stopped in the Farmers Hand located in Corktown, a gourmet grocery carrying local provisions from the vegetables to the meats to the products.
The Fisher Building was our next stop. We met with the CEO and President of the Platform, that I wrote about earlier this week. Lots of history in this building which never got fully completed as only one-third of it was done and in 1929, not surprising, the rest was never built. The main floor is filled with local shops and coffee shops that you can’t see anywhere but Detroit. The fourth floor is given to artists who use the floor for studios.
Dearborn was next. Dearborn, part of the Detroit metropolitan area, is a community of almost 50% of Arab descent. We went to sample the food and check out the culture. Al-Ameer feels like a local NYC diner but the food is far from that. We had a sample plate. The hummus is incredible.
Lentils and rice covered with crispy warm caramelized onions and also a plate of roasted baby lamb over rice. Way too much food but we had to try it all! Our server, an adorable young woman, told us that during Ramadan, after the fast, the lines out the door were almost two hours long.
We were stuffed but not too stuffed to stop by Shatila Bakery to try a few pastries and ice cream. They are known for both. My favorite of these three was the stuffed phyllo with cream, not too sweet but just right. We also had some mint chip ice cream that kind of worked with the sweets.
Our next stop was the Heidelberg Project. It is an outdoor art project in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood created in 1986 by Tyree Guyton, as a political protest after seeing his neighborhood slowly deteriorating after the 1967 riots. Some of this was destroyed by fire in 2013 believed to be started by an arsonist.
His mother, I believe, was holding court in the booth, giving us the lay of the land. She told us that they are starting to have art classes for kids there and another street a few blocks from there was starting to be developed by Guyton as well. I do hope that the city keeps the majority of this up. The land is owned by the city.
Blocks from this neighborhood, sits Indian Hills, an affluent neighborhood with homes built by many prominent architects. Just seeing the proximity of both neighborhoods we just explored gives you an idea of how complicated the redevelopment of the city is. These neighborhoods are literally around the block from each other.
The day is not complete. We drove through Belle Isle Park, which is a 982-acre island between US and Canada border. It is in need of major repairs at the Conservatory, the Aquarium, and the other attractions. The state of Michigan took over the park in 2014 with a 99-year lease. Lots of controversy over this one as the place is just added a race track and fees to drive into the park. This park had been free for the local community to enjoy and that has changed. Our driver gave us an earful on this although he understood why it has to happen to clean it up but on the other hand, where do the people who can’t afford the park go?
Our next stop was to have drinks with someone who works with Dan Gilbert, who is also a major developer in the city. I wrote about that earlier this week. We went up to their offices and saw their view of the center of downtown.
Dinner was a walk over to The Apparatus Room, the restaurant at the Foundation Hotel where we wanted to stay. Big modern room with a nice menu. My favorite was the eggs. Smoked salmon deviled eggs with fava beans and salmon roe.
The evening was done and the day was over. This shot is looking into the restaurant from outside. A great day in a very dynamic layered interesting city that has a new future ahead of it with a lot of anxiety about what that is going to look like next.