In Detroit 442 Maybe Baby I Can Drive with You.10:54 PM
Hello She is Sara readers! This is Lauren from Sparrow & Urchin.... I'm sure you've seen me around, I am common on this blog making bad faces. So Sara and Kyle are off having fun and I'm stuck here in Detroit without them... tear. But Detroit isn't that bad of a place. As a transplant to Detroit the first few years I lived here I completely immersed myself in learning everything I could. I love being a tour guide for people talking about the history of the buildings and being an advocate for the history of Detroit. Even though many times I disagree and dislike the politics that is present Detroit, I love the past of Detroit. So I'd thought I'd bring you on the adventures I had Detroit over the past couple days. There are always new things to find and learn in this 300+ year old 143 sq mile city that was once the Paris of the Midwest (because our downtown road map was copied from Paris' and it used to be beautiful)
So let's begin.
This week I discovered that we have a Russian Orthodox Monastery, St. Sabbas, so naturally I called up of my great friends Katerina who happens to be Russian so we could go check it out. We had to make sure we'd be allowed in because there are strict rules on proper dress in the Orthodox church, so we dressed in pants and covered our heads and made our way over there. What is funny is the monastery is in a normal neighborhood, it just surprises you. Unfortunately the gate was closed and Katerina spoke to one of the monks and found out it was closed to the public that day... Bummer. But we took pictures outside and peered through the gates at the gardens. We definitely want to go back to the Russian dinner they host every Thursday and to see the library the have, and Katerina said it was funny talking to the Russian Monk... Fun Fun!
Afterward we continued our adventure at Belle Isle on the Detroit River. Belle Isle was designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted, the same architect of Central Park, and is larger than Central Park and the largest city island park in the US. From the park you get great views of downtown Detroit and Canada, and can sit back and watch freighters float by. The park currently is in some disrepair, but the Friends of Belle Isle have done some great things over the past years by reopening the nature center and helping build new playgrounds and attractions. Sadly there are still many abandoned buildings on the island, including the Detroit Boat Club (that I've been able to get into), the Belle Isle Zoo (I've also been in the remains), and the Belle Isle Aquarium (which was the oldest continually operated aquarium in North America). While we were there we were excited to see a multitude of temporary installation artwork that students from Ann Arbor had done throughout the park. Some were great and some weren't but it was very enjoyable to see art on the isle.
To round out our day we drove by Michigan Central Depot, one of the most well known abandoned buildings in the US. It was designed by Reed & Stem along with Warren & Wetmore who also designed Grand Central Station in NYC. It is one of the largest train stations of the period but wasn't ever fully completed. In 1975 it was added to the National Registrar of historic places but in 1988 it closed. Since then it has become mecca for urban explorers and a visual reminder of Detroit's demise, once great but now in shambles. I've been a supporting member of Save the Depot groups and have had the opportunity to help push for the renovation and helped keep it from being demolished in '09. And right now the owners have hired a major contractor to start replacing the roof and the thousands of windows in the 18 story building. It was amazing to see work being done on this monolith.
At the end of the month the best way to explore and see the city is with Detroit's Critical Mass. This critical mass is much different then other cities, it's much smaller and there isn't much traffic disruption since Detroit is pretty much empty at 5p. So getting on a bike with some friends (and Tripp the dog in my backpack!) is a great way to learn more and meet new people. The ride was great this month and went around 27-29 miles in almost 3 hours. Tripp enjoyed the ride and many of the riders enjoyed him! And ending the night with a local brew at a bar makes you excited to be in the city.
So I hope you enjoyed this mini tour of Detroit! You can find more of my Detroit exploits here, along with some of my daily clothes, art, and life