01.22.2018

Detroit, splendor and decadence

The reinassance of the former motor city between myth and reality

  • Detroit, splendor and decadence
  • Detroit, splendor and decadence
  • Detroit, splendor and decadence
  • Detroit, splendor and decadence
  • Detroit, splendor and decadence
  • Detroit, splendor and decadence
  • Detroit, splendor and decadence
  • Detroit, splendor and decadence
  • Detroit, splendor and decadence
  • Detroit, splendor and decadence

Once upon a time there was Detroit, the American motor city, home of Chrysler and General Motors, and of the legendary Motown Records which brought success artists of the likes of Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Diana Ross.
 
Then it was all over: first there was the bankruptcy of the huge car companies, then, in 2013, the whole city went bankrupt. Yet it was not sudden, it was actually the conclusion of a crisis that lasted over 60 years, and whose emblem are the famous images of the abandoned factories, houses and buildings in decay, the result of the companies’ bankruptcy and of a dramatic decline in population.
 
Since then, there has been a lot of talk about an imminent comeback of the motor city, but it is only recently that the city seems to have found a new vocation. So, the time has come to visit Detroit, and to discover everything that it has in store for us.
 
THE "NEW BROOKLYN"
Don’t let the flourishing of clubs, cafes and restaurants in some of the city’s central areas in recent years deceive you: Detroit has not yet emerged from its decadence. The population continues to decline, and although there is indeed an influx of new citizens, especially young white people looking for opportunities to start their own business, the city as a whole remains full of contradictions and inequalities, especially among the gentrified neighborhoods and the suburbs.
 
But something is certainly happening, and it is true that by walking through Corktown, the oldest district of the city, one gets the impression of being in the coolest areas of Brooklyn, especially judging by the density of clubs and restaurants. The rebirth, here, began in 2010 with the opening of the now famous Slow Bar BQ, then around the Michigan Avenue cobblestones Astro Coffee, Two James, the city's first post-Prohibition distillery, and even restaurants New York style farm-to-table like Gold Cash Gold.
 
Even in Downtown, the change is evident: in the heart of the city the facelift is in full development and futuristic contemporary buildings sit side by side with the restored iconic art deco skyscrapers such as the Guardian and the Penobscot Building.
 
In Midtown, the new boutiques and cafes have brought to the expansion of the pedestrian areas - a true rarity in a car-friendly city where the public transportation system is practically non-existent and the streetcar has only been around for a few months. This area is also home to one of the city's most important cultural institutions, the Detroit Institute of Arts, considered one of the best museums in the country, and Jack White’s (from The White Stripes) independent record label Third Man Records, which is also a store, a recording studio, and concert hall.
 
Mexicantown, east of the center, is worth a visit for its genuine atmosphere, murals and authentic family-run taquerias like the beloved Taqueria El Rey.
 
A THRIVING ART SCENE
A few years ago, Patti Smith said that Detroit could be the future New York, or at least what New York used to be back in the days for her generation: a new field of experimentation “for the young and struggling”. In fact, thanks to the lower rent prices and a temporary loosening of bureaucracy due to bankruptcy, the former motor city has attracted and continues to attract many young entrepreneurs and artists.
 
Among the areas where you can literally breathe this ferment is The Belt, an alley in Downtown in the former garment district turned into an open-air gallery housing works by street artists such as Shepard Fairey (author of the famous Barak Obama Hope poster) and installations by local and international artists.
 
Plenty of street art works can also be admired along the Grand River Creative Corridor, (a section of Grand River Avenue between Rosa Parks Boulevard and Warren Avenue), and then of course there is the Eastern Market area, north-east of the center, around the market of the same name. This is where the Murals in the Market festival takes place, with street artists from all over the world filling the walls with their amazing works.
 

Author : The Slowear Journal

SlowearTags.

Detroit  | reinassance  | street art  | Patti Smith  | Eastern Market  | Corktown  |

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