I’ve lived in the metro Detroit area my entire life. I was born in a hospital on the Detroit River and grew up downriver before spending the majority of my minor years in the northwest suburbs. I spent three years living in and around Grand Rapids for university before moving back home.
It’s been a fight to learn contentment in this area, for a variety of reasons, but I’m thankful for God’s grace and the opportunity to wrestle over this with Him. I love where I live, and I can’t imagine any other setting for this season of my life.
Because of that, I want to show you a couple places in the Tri-County area that I love. (“Tri-County” refers to the triad of counties over which the Detroit metropolis spreads: Macomb, Wayne, and the real O.C.*) I thought about making a trip down to Detroit proper to show you places there, but I don’t often go to Detroit, so I thought it would be a little ridiculous to be all, “PLACES I LOVE!” when a more appropriate heading would be, “PLACES I THINK ARE PRETTY BUT HAVEN’T ACTUALLY BEEN TO SINCE I WAS A SMALL CHILD.”
Tiger Stadium, for one; may it rest in peace. Fox Theatre, for another, not for lack of trying.
Anyway, I’m linking up today with Allison and Allie. If you’re a fellow Detroiter, I’m super stoked you’re here. If you’re not, I’m still stoked you’re here and I hope you enjoy this glimpse into the Motor City.
Beautiful walkways lead you from enclosure to enclosure within the zoo grounds. Also, there’s a penguinarium. Need I say more?
Car garage-turned-restaurant, all of the waitstaff wear Detroit-themed T-shirts. Vinsetta Garage combines the hipster vibe of Royal Oak with the grunge of the automobile capital of the world. Not only that, but its menu manages to balance the comforts of home (hello, mac and cheese) with more intriguing offerings (duck burger with arugula and cherry compote, you are all mine).
Home of the Detroit Red Wings and headquarters of Hockeytown. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Boston-Edison is a historic district and gorgeous neighborhood in Detroit proper. I have friends who live here, and their gracious hospitality has given me the opportunity to see this jewel of the city.
Seriously, the highways have got to be Michigan’s best feature. They’re all lined with trees, which grow more and more beautiful the further north you go. As you get closer to downtown Detroit, the highways criss and cross over each other, creating an intricate network of roadway to get you anywhere you need to go.
While there are destination malls such as Twelve Oaks Mall (Novi, MI) and Somerset Collection (Troy, MI), you can’t miss Great Lakes Crossing. It’s a huge outlet mall and boasts the largest Forever 21 in the state. You haven’t shopped in Michigan until you’ve shopped here.
Unfortunately, the best picture I have of this is super blurry, which wouldn’t bother me so much if it weren’t just of a line of people waiting to see the Emancipation Proclamation, so you’re not actually looking at any of the museum or village features. The village does live demonstrations of trades in the 1800s, and the museum showcases artifacts from Michigan and national history, demonstrating the progress in cookware and transportation over the past few centuries. Prime among the museum’s acquisitions is the bus that changed a nation: the very one in which Rosa Parks sat defiantly in 1955.
I also can never resist an opportunity to link this video. Y’ALL. It’s my favorite commercial of all time. A gospel choir, Eminem, and one of the Big Three∞ is a big three of its own.
Lest I forget one of my favorite parts about southeastern Michigan, let me add a bonus:
Yes, FINE, the University of Michigan is in Washtenaw County and this is a stretch of an excuse to include my love for the Wolverines. But y’all, the histories of the state and the university are inextricably intertwined. U of M got its nickname from OHIO, of all places; when Michigan and Ohio nearly went to war over the Toledo Strip, the Ohioans said the Michiganders were as vicious as wolverines. It stuck, immortalized forever as the university’s mascot.
The university also informed the mascot of Michigan State University; U of M was highly regarded as the Athens of the state, and MSU, as U of M’s natural opposition, took up the mantle of Athens’s enemy, Sparta.
Which only goes to demonstrate that Michigan really is the Athens of the state; when we’re not fighting the Persians (OSU), we’re waging our own version of the Peloponnesian wars.
Let me say one last thing: I know Detroit has taken virtually nothing but bad press since maybe even before Kilpatrick played at being mayor. But I have lived here my entire life and this city is. not. dead. Sure, we’ve watched a worsening economy burn it nearly to the ground. But the embers never stopped burning, and the flame is growing even now.
It’s hard to watch a city fall apart. Detroit is the flagship in our state’s fleet of cities and towns, and even at its least populous, it boasted nearly four times as many people as the next populous city in Michigan, which is Grand Rapids.† Its decline has affected over five million people in the Tri-County area, not including how it’s affected the rest of the state, the nation, and even the Windsor, ON metropolitan area.
But when I was looking up those precise numbers for this post, I founded something remarkable: Detroit’s motto. Written in 1805 by Father Gabriel Richard after the school he founded burned to the ground, it goes, Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus.
*More conventionally known as Oakland County.
∞ The Big Three refers to the three automobile companies that were founded in the Detroit area and continue to headquarter themselves here: GM, Ford, and Chrysler. Everyone in this area either is employed by or related to an employee of the Big Three and the loyalty is fierce.
† According to the 2010 U.S. census.