A few months ago, my fiance and I spent a couple days exploring downtown Detroit. Of course the first question most friends asked us when we told them where we were going was “why would you go there?”
The Urban Phoenix began highlighting urban revitalization in small New York cities that have been decimated by job and population loss. As a result, their downtowns are just now beginning to emerge again, with each one taking a different form.
On a much larger scale, Detroit’s downtown has exploded into a hub for good food, amazing drinks, high-end urban living and entertainment. The city that had one of the country’s worst reputation for blight is now a thriving, colorful center where new ideas and beautiful old city bones blend together in a walkable, attractive setting. Injections of public space abound, and a small but interesting piece of “connectivity,” the QLINE streetcar catches the eye of the newcomer.
That being said, the iPhone photos I captured below must be seen in context. My goal here is to show just how vibrant, attractive, interesting and beautiful Detroit’s downtown is today. With tremendous private investment, specifically along Woodward, the stigma that Detroit is not place to visit has officially been vanquished.
The question is whether or not this growth will responsibly and sustainably trickle down into the areas and neighborhoods that need it most. On the outskirts of the development explosion still lies a city that is struggling with some of the worst poverty issues in our nation. To truly combat these issues, greater efforts must be made to lift communities without gentrification, making Detroit a safe and comfortable place to live once again.
The photos below capture a downtown that is growing and surging… but as with anything, it’s only a piece of the puzzle. Still, Detroit is once again a fun, beautiful, historic and interesting place to visit. And if you can’t get there anytime soon, here’s a sneak peek.