Friday, October 15, 2004

Touring the Motor City.

Today many of the primi and some of the secundi went on a tour of Detroit led by two lifelong area residents, our own Sister Theresa and local historian Dave Parr. The tour was an enjoyable and eye-opening experience, covering diverse territory that gave us a much stronger sense of the city. We toured lively ethnic enclaves like Greektown and Mexicantown (but not, alas, traditionally Polish Hamtramck) and saw the stately (but in many cases now decayed) mansions of the Boston-Edison District and Palmer Park. We also visited several sites intimately connected to Detroit's automotive heritage. For example, we walked through the opulent lobby of the Fisher Building (of automotive "Body by Fisher" fame), lauded by some as "the most beautiful building in the world." I'm not sure I'd go that far, but the Fisher is a very attractive example of 1920's American commercial architecture. Across the street is the former General Motors Building (now used as office space by the State of Michigan), an equally breathtaking commercial edifice connected to the Fisher by an underground tunnel and, not incidentally, designed by the same architect. Turning from GM to Ford, we also saw the Highland Park Ford Plant where the original Model T was produced; while noted by a historical marker, the Ford buildings there are in decrepit condition and rumor has it some may be torn down in the near future. For lunch we went to the landmark American Coney Island downtown, coneys being to Detroit what smoked meat is to Montreal and cheesesteak is to Philadelphia. Hot dogs aren't really my thing, so I didn't exactly fall in love with the stuff I was served at the American. While I'm living here, however, I figure I should make an effort to appreciate the local culinary culture, and thus I'm sure I'll be back to the American or to one of its many competitors. All told, the tour was a fine day out and introduced me to plenty of landmarks that I can now show to family and friends when they come to visit. AMDG.


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