Friday, December 1, 2017

Motoring around downtown Motown

One of my favourite expressions is "never say never".  For example....never in a million years did I think I would be walking around downtown Detroit, Michigan without a care in the world.  While in the past I attended a concert (guess who?) in suburban Pontiac, Michigan I never thought I would actually be in downtown Detroit.  To this Canadian, the word Detroit symbolized the wonderful music of Motown and of course the almighty automobile but most of all CRIME.  Gun shots and sirens were what sprang to my mind when I thought of Detroit.  Nope, you wouldn't catch me in Detroit ever.   Not on the radar at all - nada, nada - in fact I quivered at the thought of even changing buses there. (and trust me, I have seen my share of inner city bus stations in the United States!) Then Paul McCartney announced a tour...which coincidentally was happening around the time I was due to dog sit for my friend Terry in not so far away Chicago.  Hmmm....and not only one concert but two.  And so many of my Paul friends would be there and I hadn't yet walked in Michigan's state capital...just two hours I went online and got a ticket.  And yes, eventually a ticket for the second show.

So on the 1st of October I found myself in Detroit.  Let me tell you their airport transport sucks - however from what I have been reading public transportation in Detroit in general sucks.  Well it is the motor city after all...if you can afford it you have wheels. I will spare you my opinion on that!  I managed to get a shuttle to my hotel for about $25.

My hotel was a splurge.  I had originally booked an airbnb across from the concert..for various reasons I changed venues.  I did enjoy my stay at The Inn on Ferry Street though.  Because I travel on a budget, changing it up and splurging once in a blue moon is fun.

The "inn" consisted of six Victorian houses - this was the building where I checked in and had the included hot breakfast.

This was the building I stayed in: called Pungs house (originally the home of William Pungs) - it was built in 1891. My room was on the second floor (called first floor in the UK) and were the two sets of windows on the left.

Here was the parlour on the main floor -sad to say I never had time to use it.

The door to my room is on the left.

And this was across the street...yes it was a posh neighbourhood.

My room wasn't ready when I checked in so I set out to explore the neighbourhood.   I found the Detroit Historical Museum two short blocks away and settled in there for the next couple of hours.  I love learning about a city's history and Detroit has an interesting one.

Three of Detroit's famous daughters.

As you can imagine the museum was pretty heavy on the two things Detroit is famous for: cars and music. Above was Detroit's first car which was driven down Woodward Avenue (the "main drag" in Detroit) on March 6th, 1896.

There was a lot of information on the Detroit riot in late July of 1967 which lasted for five days.  43 people were killed, 1189 injured and many businesses were destroyed.  I remember hearing about it at the time of course because I am old but learning more about it had me in tears.

Just across the street from the museum was the beautiful Detroit Institute of Arts.  I decided to visit it another day...sadly that day never came as when I went to visit it was closed. 

Here is the Q line LRT gliding down Woodward Avenue in front of the Historical Museum.  I was able to take it once which was fun.

Paul McCartney concerts occupied both nights I was in Detroit which I must admit is my favourite way to spend an evening.

The next day I took the complimentary hotel shuttle service over to Mary and Linda's hotel (Motor City Casino Hotel) and from there we got a taxi to the waterfront.  We had wanted to visit the Motown Museum but it is closed on Sundays and Mondays. The shuttle driver from the airport had raved about the waterfront.  It did not disappoint.

That is Windsor, Ontario across the water.

This is a a statue honoring the Underground Railroad which ended here in Detroit.  The Underground Railroad was a network of safe houses and secret routes to enable slaves to escape to "free" states or Canada. There is an Underground Railroad museum in Detroit which I would have loved to have visited but it is closed Sunday and Monday. (this is becoming a theme)

Rollin' on the River....

I learned something new - the founder of Detroit was Antoine Laumet de la Mothe Cadillac.  Hmmm....where have I heard that name before?

We had a pleasant lunch on the patio of a restaurant which looked out across the Detroit River.

Hi Canada!

Crab cakes for lunch.

This is Mariners church founded in 1842.  Best known as the church sung by Gordon Lightfoot in the "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"  On November 10, 1975 the freighter The Edmund Fitzgerald sunk taking 29 lives.  Mariners church helped former slaves reach Canada through a tunnel in their basement. 

In a rustic old hall in Detroit they prayed,

In the Maritime Sailors’ Cathedral.
The church bell chimed till it rang twenty-nine times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Then it was time to take Detroits people mover back downtown.

Comerica Park where the Detroit Tigers Baseball team play.

I was more impressed with the Fox theatre - I wonder why.  Seriously, I love old theatres and would have loved to have seen the inside of this one.

I did see a lot of this place though - a brand new arena just opened in September of 2017.

48 hours in Detroit was not long enough to see too much with concerts and getting together with friends.  I would have liked one more day so that I could have visited the Motown Museum and the Underground Museum as well as seeing more of downtown.  Ah excuse to go back and this time it won't be on a Sunday or Monday! 

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