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Vacation in Detroit

December 27, 2009

Detroit is one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful places I have ever been.  Working there as a bike messenger for three years afforded me a view of Detroit that few folks ever see.  My work took me through the shadiest alleys and to the tops of the highest towers, and I quickly became infatuated with the city and it’s history.  I read books and visited historic landmarks, big and small, trying to make sense of how a city that was once so important could just be forgotten.

The holiday break from the bike shop this year allowed me to return for the first time in three years.  Because of its wide, empty streets, dead flat topography, and relatively straightforward street layout, Detroit is accidentally the most bike friendly city I’ve ever ridden in.  It’s a town that Heather and I know best on two wheels so we spent Saturday biking around while I tried to photograph some of the images that I’ve found it so difficult to describe to folks over the years. 

Here’s a couple photos of my favorite American city:

Detroit Skyline

The classic image of Detroit from Belle Isle on the Detroit River.

My old neighborhood

This looks like it could be in the middle of nowhere, but it’s one block from my old house on Rosa Parks.  This house and field are less than two miles from downtown Detroit.

Our neighbors

This was the house next door.  Note the “This building is being watched” sign, intended to discourage Halloween arson.

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Michigan Central Train Depot

 This 18 story building was designed by the same architect as Grand Central in NYC.  Amtrak stopped operating here in the 1980s and the remains have been picked clean.  On a sunny day you can see the sun rise and set through the broken out windows.

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The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle

Belle Isle is a city park located on an island three miles upriver from downtown Detroit.  The conservatory is the perfect winter refuge, warm and humid year-round.
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