We all know Detroit doesn’t have the greatest reputation. There’s no doubt the City could definitely use some financial and political help, but there’s a contingent of us who wish for the "glory days" of old Detroit - a city that’s revitalized and thriving.
When I was a kid, my parents would take us downtown for family outings. Sometimes we’d go to a Tiger’s or Red Wings game, or maybe we’d visit the Belle Isle aquarium or zoo. I would take elementary school field trips to the Detroit Science Center and DIA. As a Girl Scout, we visited Greek Town and strolled through the now defunct Trapper’s Alley. I may not remember every specific detail of my downtown trips as a child, but I do remember the fear that was instilled in me.
"Hold my hand and don’t talk to anyone."
"Lock the doors."
"Make sure you stay with your buddy."
"Avoid the homeless people sleeping on the People Mover."
"Keep your money hidden in your shoe.”"
From an early age, most suburban kids are taught Detroit is a scary place. A city you visited, did your thing and immediately left. You never stayed in the City longer than you had to, and you never drove the side streets after dark.
It wasn’t until I graduated from college and started frequenting the usual downtown haunts, that I started to have respect for our struggling City.
Growing up, I’d heard some stories of Detroit’s "past life". My mom told me how she and her friends would take the bus downtown to spend the day shopping at Hudson’s. My dad’s eyes lit up when he recounted stories of going to ball games as a child, and made a point to take my sister and I to as many games as possible. My grandfather talked about his father and how he moved to Michigan, from Mexico, to work on the line for booming auto industry. We frequently had family celebrations in Mexican Town, where my grandfather knew virtually every shop owner and restaurateur. But even with all of the fond memories, each time we ventured downtown, the look and feel of the City reminded us of its decline. Nobody ever mentioned the history of behind Detroit -- how Boston Edison or Indian Village came to be, how Motown got its start in Detroit or the abundance of ethnic enclaves within (and surrounding) the City.
It wasn’t until I started researching Detroit’s history for Motorcityrocks.com that I discovered the City’s rich past, and how it tied to the surrounding suburbs, and all of Southeast Michigan. Now if only we could bring some of that "magic" back to Detroit and make it like it was before. I think we’re on track, but we still have a long way to go.