Sunday, May 9, 2010

Detroit: Red Wings, Tigers, Casino!

The last time I was in Detroit was in my early teens, and the purpose of the trip was to buy Adler sox and madras button down shirts that were not yet available in Toronto. The city has changed.I took the tunnel bus which normally takes 15 minutes. Unfortunately, due to construction traffic and a car running out of gas which blocked the lane, it took 1 1/2 hours. (Fortunately, I had a book to read.) Arriving in Michigan I was immediately struck by the state's slogan..."Pure Michigan". The people who come up with these slogans really ought to be shot. The next thing that struck me was the GM Renaissance Centre which dominates the city's skyline.

I tried to arrange a city tour, but people laughed at me. But I learned there was a 'people mover' and decided to create my own tour. The 'people mover' turned out to be a cousin of the Vancouver's the same technology, and it was quite spooky travelling around Detroit's downtown to the background sounds of the Canada Line.

As I passed the Joe Louis Arena, I couldn't help but think that I hope they Detroit Red Wings do well....because the city does not have a lot going for it these days.
At least certainly not the downtown. There are some attractive older buildings, including a lovely art deco building, and there's a baseball park and City Opera, yes an Opera building.... something we don't have. But there are acres of parking lots and little street life on a Saturday afternoon. Detroit's Time Square is not New York's Times Square. Where is everybody?Well, I soon found out. One of the People Mover stops was Greektown, and thinking it would be nice to get a late lunch, I got off...directly into the Greektown Casino. It was packed. I mean absolutely packed! I couldn't believe it. And the people did not look like Vancouver people. I didn't take any pictures, because I once got into serious trouble in Las Vegas for taking pictures in a casino, but just try to imagine a lot of very, very large black and white people, many pushing walkers and a surprising number of wheelchairs...and you'll start to have an impression of what I found.

After a brief visit, I found it too sad to be there. So I got back on the People Mover for another loop around the city. I eventually got off at the new Rosa Parks transit terminal, an unusual tensile roof structure, to get the 4:30 bus back to Windsor. It was very cold and windy, and the bus finally arrived at 5:55. After a brief stop at Canadian Customs (don't ask me what it was like to go through American Customs with a bus full of 'foreigners') the bus went directly to....the Windsor Casino! Later that evening, as I looked back over the river to Detroit I wished the city all the best for the future. Let's start buying Chevrolets!


Neale Adams said...

I was told there was quite a lot of cycling in Detroit because the wide streets have space for it. Did you see much?

michael geller said...

Neale, as my photos show, I saw hardly anybody at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon...other than a few people wandering around looking in garbage containers...But I know there's a lot more to the city than the downtown on a weekend...for one thing, (according to some of the architects who went on the walking tour) there are also areas where a lot of burned out buildings are still standing...

David said...

From what I understand no one lives down there, so it would be pretty dead on a weekend. It's a cliche "business district" that dies when the work day ends.

As for the slogans I agree, but I hope you're equal opportunity with your criticisms. I mean seriously BC's slogan, "The Greatest Place On Earth" is just embarrassing.

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