Detroit: My Impressions So Far

Before I came to Detroit, there were a lot of people who constantly cautioned me on what they thought Detroit had become. I will admit, even myself I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I came down here. I had heard all the stories of the crime rates in Detroit, the abandoned neighborhoods and buildings following the recession, or even the general state of disrepair Detroit is in. You don’t have to look too hard on the internet to find sources on the internet that would mislead lots of people as to what Detroit is really like. Also, living near Detroit, you don’t have to go too far to find abandoned buildings.

 

Abandoned Building Near Corktown
Abandoned Building Near Corktown

The truth is that Detroit got hit hard during the recession. There’s no shortage of issues that have to be sorted out as Detroit rebuilds for the future. However, in my perspective, I feel like Detroit is no different that any other big city. Any big city has areas with higher crime rates than the norm, and every big city has areas that you just don’t go to.

But like many big cities in the USA, there’s a ton of things that don’t get shown to balance out what some of these cities really have to offer. For example, there are tons of State Parks and Metro Parks surrounding Detroit. It’s a different type of wilderness that I’m used to, since I’m coming from the Rocky Mountains, but there’s lots of nature surrounding Detroit. There’s lots of paved bike paths for riding bikes and longboards, along with trails for cross country bike riding in the Metroparks and State Parks. Looks like I need to hurry up and get my bike fixed up so that I can start taking advantage of the good weather!

St. Clair Metropark
St. Clair Metropark
Lake St. Clair
Lake St. Clair

I’ve been told by locals that lots of events happen in the summer. There’s lots of music festivals that happen during the summer, a beer festival (though that’s not so much in the summer, it’s in October), and lots of classic car shows, such as the Woodward Dream Cruise (I’m excited for this!). A couple weekends ago, there was a RedBull skateboarding competition right in the middle of downtown Detroit! I was a real treat to see some of the best skateboarders in the world battle it out in competition around a course that was designed to take advantage of the street features of Hart Plaza.

The Elite in the Skateboarding World Right in Detroit
The Elite in the Skateboarding World Right in Detroit. Participating was Ryan Sheckler, Chris Cole, Ryan Decenzo, Curren Caples, Alec Majerus, Torey Pudwill, and Youness Amrani, just to name a few.
Showing up to watch RedBull's Hart Lines
RedBull’s Hart Lines

When my parents were visiting, we took a trip to Detroit Institute or Arts. I think this is a hidden Gem of Detroit. I don’t feel like it has the same kind of publicity that some of the major art galleries have around the US, such as the Metropolitan museum in New York, or the Art Institute in Chicago (please don’t harsh on me too badly, I’m not an Art person and I’m sure there’s more notable museums I could have mentioned).

Diego Riviera Mural
Diego Riviera Mural at the Detroit Institute of Arts
Van Gogh Self Portrait
Van Gogh Self Portrait

I’ve hardly scratched the surface of the many things that Detroit and the surrounding area has to offer, but from my perspective, there’s lots of Detroit that gets overlooked in the media frenzy that only focuses on the difficulties Detroit has suffered in the recession. Whether it’s the great lakes nearby, the close proximity to Canada, the up and coming food scene, or the massive scale of manufacturing, there’s a lot to explore.

While I’ve only been here for 5 months, I can say that Detroit has a lot to offer and I’m looking forward to the journey ahead! Lots more to come!

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