Photos Detroit Farmers Market

Detroit Motor City – USA Road Trip – Travel Writing

May 1st and May 2nd

(I have now about a week’s worth of content backed up, so apologize for having had no time to edit / improve the notes below).

I didn’t realize it was labor day till it was over. It being a Sunday makes my unawareness more comprehensible.

Notes from Detroit:

– At the 5 Guys in GreekTown, Beaubien st, eating a burger and fries. Spent the morning at the Eastern Farmer’s Market, past Ford Stadium.

– yesterday in Toronto I saw a trucker ram another truck who was in the way and too slow to rear into his loading dock.

– today saw a group of aging ladies all wearing bikini T-shirts. But my camera battery was dead…

– people here are big, both in terms of longitude and latitude

– people friendly, always a kind word. Even in this big city, a few greet me as they walk by on the street. Is it because I look foreign?

– spent a cold night in car, still feeling shivers as I write, await summer impatiently.

The city epitomizes the US of the XXth century

Symbol of the revolution of the XXth (before computer chips), but also a symbol of America, following cowboys’ horses: the automobile

– is it my preconception, or does the city actually feel like the degenerate remnant of a glorious industrial past? (turns out this is not a preconception: this state and view has been widely reported upon, notably in a photo-investigation by Time Magazine.,29307,1864272_1810115,00.html

As such, not only is D-Town synonym of the auto industry, it may also be a symbol of US’ historical place in the world as a whole (end of an empire’s era, beginning of an end, whatever).

–       empty streets, wide, designed for and by car industry, poorly maintained roads downtown (a radio ad for a campaigning politician confirms this). Arrived on Friday evening in the downtown area, which only reinforced the ghost-town feel of the area.

–       Even on a Saturday at noon, Greektown and its restaurants remains fairly empty (5 guys is the busiest place around)

(Add on May 8th: Saw an article in the New York Times which would like people to believe otherwise, that Detroit is dynamic, has great places to eat. Perhaps, but not on my watch.)

Misery is a lot more prevalent here than in NorthEast – reminds me of Chicago this winter, but worse. Many destitutes roam / loiter on the streets – mostly African Americans. In fact, most people I see are African Americans (do I now recall that D-town’s population is 50% + black?)

I have already noticed a similar demographic pattern in Toronto, where it seemed that nearly half of the population was Asian (Indian and Chinese) – very few Asians here, on the other hand.

The only exception is the farmer’s market, the first cowboy hats have made their appearance here. Interesting as it is a reversal of the international stereotype of a Caucasian ‘redneck’  mid-west, inner-America. (Then again, this is Detroit.)

The burger is living up to its reputation.

May 1

Visit the Motor City casino, meet a grocer who moved from Baghdad in 1977, got his whole family to join. Nearly interviewed him but missed the opportunity. Spent day in DIA. Looked for the old railroad station, didn’t find it, took off.

4 Responses

  1. Drove through Detroit just after Christmas 2011. It looked abandoned. So sad. Your B & W pictures capture the atmosphere beautifully.

    • ooa revo says:

      Hi, thanks for your comment. It was quite a shock to stop by Detroit towards the beginning of the road and be met with such grimness. I didn’t see anything like it during the rest of the travels.

  2. sandrarenee says:

    I just spent the night in Detroit, after 18 months outside of Michigan, in the company of a man and woman from rural Michigan who recently moved to this difficult city. They’re excited by what it offers: great restaurants, educational opportunities, concerts, art museums, and people of all different backgrounds and possibilities. From the 29th floor of their renovated, modern, attractive apartment building that’s next door to a beautiful building that has become hulking in its emptiness, I looked out over a city that’s a patchwork of dark streets and brightly-lit buildings.

    Detroit is a story that reads very differently depending on the page one looks at first. It will ALWAYS be what it is – the location of an industry that changed the face of this country, the home of the people who built that industry, and the birthplace of a movement that demanded dignity and a decent life for workers. The world has changed. Detroit is no doubt in desperate straits, and it could give in to that, let all its buildings fall as desperate people strip the infrastructure of copper wire and scrap metal. Or, it could do what many people, business owners, workers, artists, writers, city dwellers and visitors, are deliberately working toward: learn how to change itself and once again lead a country that must learn to reinvent itself. The next time you’re in Michigan, go back to Detroit. Go to the DIA and spend a few hours with the Diego Rivera murals. Then go back out on the streets and take photos of the people and decide if Detroit’s a noble, yet rotting, corpse, or the birthplace of a phoenix.

    Great blog, by the way, and great project. Thank you for the art. Good fortune with the next stages.

    • ooa revo says:

      Hi Sandra (?), thanks for your comment and sharing these insights (and accurate description).
      Detroit (as noted on a comment below) was in many ways one of the most staggering examples of social disparity and of the effects of the economic downturn that I saw during the trip (part 1). It was also, coincidentally, one of the first stops of the trip.
      While the few thoughts (notes, photos, video) gathered here do paint a grim picture of the city, I fully agree with you: “Or, it could do what many people, business owners, workers, artists, writers, city dwellers and visitors, are deliberately working toward: learn how to change itself and once again lead a country that must learn to reinvent itself.”
      This is – or can be – one of the purposes / uses of art (as of work in other fields) – I would however not be able to answer with any certainty whether the brief thoughts currently posted can help in this direction, although I may hope so, or not. I have never doubted the ‘nobility’ of Detroit, which is as you mention one of the reasons for such a stark contrast.

      I did a spend the day at the DIA! Fantastic!
      Lastly, I hope in the future to rework / edit these notes taken on the road so that they may eventually incorporate these thoughts and be elaborated upon, thanks so much for your feedback!

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Hi, I’m ooa revo. I like to create using different media including Film, Photos, Writing, Animation, Videos, Drawings, Painting, Poetry, newer media such as XR/AR/VR/360, and more! Many stories and work on OOAworld are inspired by world travels, as well as a Movie / Documentary asking people I met along the road: "What's your philosophy in life?" Follow the adventure on OOAworld and social media or by signing up to email updates!