August 1, 2014 – Detroit Bus Tour and Detroit River Boat Tour

Enroute to downtown Detroit, we were passed by someone who is obviously a supreme egotist.

Dr. Sexy License Plate, Belle Isle Park, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01Today was our chance to discover Detroit … both by bus

2014-08-01 - Alaska Trekkers Michigan Reunion Group, Belle Isle Park, Detroit, MIand later in the day, from a boat tour on the Detroit River.

Based on the barrage of news reports about Detroit, which has lost 60% of its per-recession population and is still facing serious fiscal challenges, we were prepared for a pretty depressing city.

And, yes, there are extremely blighted properties and areas.

Abandoned Building - b Abandoned Building Indian Village - a Abandoned Building - d Abandoned Building - c Abandoned Building - eHOWEVER, that is not representative of the overall city we visited.

Our first stop was at Belle Isle Park, a 962 acre island park in the Detroit River, between the U.S. and Canada. It is part of the city of Detroit and accessible via the Macarthur Bridge; and currently under a 30-year management agreement with the state of Michigan.

Bridge to Belle Isle Park

Landscaping clock actually works

Landscaping clock actually works

Crews rowing from the Belle Isle Park Boat Club

Crews rowing from the Belle Isle Park Boat Club

Belle Isle Yacht Club Harbor

Belle Isle Yacht Club Harbor

The island park’s highlight is the John Scott Memorial Fountain

James Scott Memorial Fountain (a), Belle Isle Park,Detroit,MI - 2014-08-01 James Scott Memorial Fountain (d), Belle Isle Park,Detroit,MI - 2014-08-01 James Scott Memorial Fountain (c), Belle Isle Park,Detroit,MI - 2014-08-01

The fountain was named after its benefactor, John Scott. He was left a sizable fortune by his father who invested in Detroit real estate. According to contemporaries, Scott gambled, told off-color stories and was a womanizer. He was described by twentieth-century author W. Hawkins Ferry as vindictive and a misanthrope who attempted to intimidate his business competitors and when this was unsuccessful, he filed suit.  Perhaps for these reasons, Scott died in 1910 with no heirs or colleagues and he bequeathed his estate to the City of Detroit with the condition that the fountain include a life-sized statue of him. Some accounts state that the will required that the statue be at the fountain’s pinnacle.
Several community and religious leaders spoke against accepting the bequest saying that a person with Scott’s reputation should not be immortalized in the city.

Mayor Philip Breitmeyer and City Council President David Heineman urged accepting the gift saying that the city shouldn’t insult any of its citizens by refusing such a generous offer. While the debate raged, Scott’s fortune continued to grow and by the time construction commenced it topped $1 million. The final design placed Scott’s statue, without his signature top hot, in an inconspicuous spot behind the fountain.

James Scott Memorial Statue, Belle Isle Park,Detroit,MI - 2014-08-01
Our route then took us through Indian Village, which got its name as the result of a former owner of the land who raised horses and gave them Indian names, a tree-lined with some gorgeous homes.

Indian Village, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 Indian Village Home, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01

From there we drove through the Heidelberg Project is an outdoor art project in Detroit, Michigan. It was created in 1986 by artist Tyree Guyton and his grandfather Sam Mackey (“Grandpa Sam”) as an outdoor art environment in the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood on the city’s east side, just north of the city’s historically African-American Black Bottom area. The Heidelberg Project is in part a political protest, as Tyree Guyton’s childhood neighborhood began to deteriorate after the 1967 riots. Guyton described coming back to Heidelberg Street after serving in the Army; he was astonished to see that the surrounding neighborhood looked as if “a bomb went off”.

Heidelberg Area (a), Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 Heidelberg Area (b), Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 Heidelberg Area (c), Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 Heidelberg Area (d), Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01At first, the project consisted of his painting a series of houses on Detroit’s Heidelberg Street with bright dots of many colors and attaching salvaged items to the houses. It was a constantly evolving work that transformed a hard-core inner city neighborhood where people were afraid to walk, even in daytime, into one in which neighbors took pride and where visitors were many and welcomed.

The Mount Elliot Catholic Cemetery

Mount Elliot Catholic Cemetery Gate, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01
also comes with interesting anecdotes. A committee of leading citizens of the day, including the architect Robert Elliott, an Irish immigrant, founded the cemetery. Tragically, however, Elliott died in a construction accident only 12 days after the property was dedicated, and so it became known as Mt. Elliott Cemetery.

As there were ongoing disputed between local Catholics and Protestants, a fence was erected separating the Protestant and Catholic sections, with their respective entrances several miles apart.

A member of one family whose remains had been interred in the Catholic ended up being excommunicated by the Bishop of Detroit and, therefore could not be buried with his family, even his wife. The solution was for husband and wife to be buried side-by-side on opposing sides of the chain-link fence separating the two adjoining cemeteries.

Mount Elliot Catholic Cemetery Rear Fence, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01Given its unique place in Detroit’s history, Mt. Elliott serves as an important final resting place for many generations of both prominent Detroiters and everyday citizens.

We did locate the family’s main plot

Mount Elliot Catholic Cemetery Memorial with Hornet's Nest, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01
which was presently inhabited by new residents.

Hornets on Hornet's Nest, Mount Elloit Catholic Cemetery, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01
The woman who would eventually become his wife was also from Ireland. Her first voyage ended in sight of the harbor from which she debarked when it sank. A second attempt to reach America also ended when the ship on which she was sailing also sank just off the west coast of the British Isles. On her third voyage, her ship almost reached America before … you guessed it … going to the bottom. She was one of only six survivors. However, she did out live her husband, Robert, by 37 years and raised their seven children.

We then drove by a group of men waiting outside a soup kitchen

Men Waiting for a Coup Kitchen to Open, Mount Elloit Cemetery Area, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01
run by a Catholic order which grows a lot of its own food and runs programs to get young people involved in it gardening efforts.

In and around the Eastern Market,

Building Mural in Eastern Market (a), Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 Building Mural in Eastern Market (b), Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01a huge indoor/outdoor food market open just three days a week, there are dozens of creative building wall murals

Building Mural (b), Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 Building Mural (a), Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01Our route took us past the Detroit Tigers Comerica Park
Comerica Park (Entrance), Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 as well as the Joe Louis Center, where the Detroit Red Wings play (although a new arena is being built for them).
Joe Louis Arena from Diamond Queen, Detroit River, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01Then, there was the guy with the “bad hair” day.

Bad Hair Day, Guardian Building, Detroit, MI -2104-08-01We had an opportunity to visit two, very different art deco buildings.

Fisher Building

Fisher Building, Detroit, MI - 2104-08-01 Fisher Building (Tower), Detroit, MI - 2104-08-01 Fisher Building (Entrance), Detroit, MI - 2104-08-01

Photo of original building before 1928 rebuilding

Photo of original building before 1928 rebuilding

Fisher Building (Interior Corridor - a), Detroit, MI - 2104-08-01 Fisher Building (Interior Ceiling - d), Detroit, MI - 2104-08-01 Fisher Building (Interior Ceiling - b), Detroit, MI - 2104-08-01 Fisher Building (Interior Ceiling - a), Detroit, MI - 2104-08-01 Fisher Building (Interior - a), Detroit, MI - 2104-08-01 Fisher Building (First Floor Emblem), Detroit, MI - 2104-08-01

Elevator doors

Elevator doors

Decorative Marble Panel

Decorative Marble Panel

Tile mosaics Fisher Building (Mosaic - b), Detroit, MI - 2104-08-01 Fisher Building (Mosaic - a), Detroit, MI - 2104-08-01

Guardian Building

Guardian Building (Entrance), Detroit, MI -2104-08-01 Guardian Building (Interior - d), Detroit, MI -2104-08-01

Note that this section of the ceiling is not tiles but made of horse hair on canvas

Note that this section of the ceiling is not tiles but made of horse hair on canvas

Guardian Building (Interior - a), Detroit, MI -2104-08-01 Guardian Building (Interior - b), Detroit, MI -2104-08-01 Guardian Building (Interior - c), Detroit, MI -2104-08-01

One of only two Tiffany clocks

One of only two Tiffany clocks

Other sights included:

Cadillac Building – originally General Motor’s worldwide headquarters
Cadillac Building (Entrance), Detroit, MI - 2104-08-01 Cadillac Building, Detroit, MI - 2104-08-01
Detroit Institute of Art, where the valuable art being sought by secured creditors in the city’s bankruptcy is housed

Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01
The Motown Museum and Hitville Recording Studios are located

Motown Museum, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 MOTOWN INFO Motown Museum - Girl Groups, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01
Joe Louis’ Arm

Joe Louis' Fist, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01
Spirit of Detroit

The main figure represents the spirit of man. His left hand holds awhile his right symbol of God and holds a man, woman and child representing the spirit of God through the family unit

The main figure represents the spirit of man. His left hand holds awhile his right symbol of God and holds a man, woman and child representing the spirit of God through the family unit

Spirit of Detroit (Man, Woman and Child), Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01
One of dozens of “orange men” atop building “watching over the city and its people”

Orange Men Atop Building, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01
Old Wayne County Municipal Building

Old Wayne County Building (a), Detroit, MI - 2104-08-01 Old Wayne County Building (Reflection), Detroit, MI - 2104-08-01
Decorative Street Lamps

Street Light (typical), Detorit, MI - 2014-08-01Michigan Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

Civil War Memorial, Campus Martius Park, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01Rogers’ design consists of a series of octagonal sections that rise up from the base of the monument. The lowest sections are topped by eagles with raised wings that guide the eye upward to the next section which is surmounted by four male figures depicting the Navy, Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery branches of the United States Army. Four female allegorical figures, resting on pedestals, are above the male statues and represent Victory, History, Emancipation, and Union were not added to the monument until 1881. Local lore claims Rogers used Sojourner Truth, the famous African-American abolitionist,
Civil War Memorial, Campus Martius Park- Former Slave, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01as his inspiration for the Emancipation statue, but little evidence exists to document this belief; although the figure is the first to depict an African-American woman on a public monument in the United States.

There are also four plaques containing bas-reliefs of the Union leaders President Lincoln, General Grant, General Sherman, and Admiral Farragut. Capping the monument, the heroic “Amazon figure” Michigania, or Victory, brandishes a sword in her right hand and in her other she raises a shield, prepared for attack.

Nearby in Cadillac Square food vendors are out in force

DSC_0187and people of all description are enjoying a carefree afternoon such as one might see in any other American city.

DSC_0189 DSC_0188 DSC_0186A White Castle (generally acknowledged to be the first of the fast food restaurants chains) restaurant
White Castle Restaurant, Detroit, MI - 214-08-01
Our final stop was in Greektown where we grabbed lunch at Five Guys
GREEK TOWNand where we were treated to several street entertainers.

Street Musician with Crowd, Greektown, Detroit, MI -2014-08-01 Street Performer, Greektown, Detroit, MI -2014-08-01

Finally, dominating Detroit’s skyline is the GM Renaissance Center which sits on the Detroit River. Curiously, the center was conceived and developed by Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company. GM Renaissance Center from Rivard Park on the Waterfront, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 GM Renaissance Center Towers (from Diamond Queen), Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 GM Renaissance Center Towers (from Waterfront - b), Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 Interestingly, although having seen the GM logo on the building when stories about GM or the automotive industry, in general, have appeared on television, we never realized that the logo and even the color of the band below it changes (and can be programmed for company and/or community messages and events) every few minutes.

GM Renaissance Center (GM Logo), Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 GM Renaissance Center (Chevrolet Logo), Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 GM Renaissance Center (Cadillac Logo), Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01Walking along the Riverwalk from the Renaissance Center to Rivard Park where we were to board our boat, we enjoyed any number of children frolicking in the wading fountains.

Young Boy in Fountain Along Riverwalk, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 Young Boy in Fountain Along Riverwalk - b, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01We boarded our boat

Diamond Queen, Rivard Park Pier, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-012014-08-01 - Debbie and Dick on Bow of Diamond Queen, Delaware River, Detroit, MI - 2104-08-01For the two hour cruise along the Detroit River northeast toward Lake St. Clair (between Lakes Erie and Huron) along the US side.

High-end Condos north of Detroit

CondosLighthouse

Detroit River Lighthouse - a, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01Whitier Hotel

– Legend has it that when the Beatles performed in Detroit, they kept their hotel a secret. However, one radio station got wind they were staying the Whitier and “convinced” someone in housekeeping to let them have the sheets from the night the Beatles stayed there. The station then cut the bed sheets into 1” squares and sold them … raising an estimated $72,000

Legend has it that when the Beatles performed in Detroit, they kept their hotel a secret. However, one radio station got wind they were staying the Whitier and “convinced” someone in housekeeping to let them have the sheets from the night the Beatles stayed there. The station then cut the bed sheets into 1” squares and sold them … raising an estimated $72,000

We passed under the MacArthur Bridge

MacArthur Bridge, Delaware River, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01
and headed toward the north end of Belle Isle, spotting lighthouse and a sloop in the mist at the mouth of Lake St. Clair.

Detroit River Lighthouse - b, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01
Before turning to starboard where the Livingstone Lighthouse on the northern end of Belle Isle.

 The fluted tower of white Georgia marble sits on an octagonal base and stands 58 feet tall. A bronze lantern room topping the tower brings the lighthouse's total height to about 80 feet and houses an 11,500 candlepower light visible up to 15 miles away on Lake St. Clair.


The fluted tower of white Georgia marble sits on an octagonal base and stands 58 feet tall. A bronze lantern room topping the tower brings the lighthouse’s total height to about 80 feet and houses an 11,500 candlepower light visible up to 15 miles away on Lake St. Clair.

Edging toward the Canadian shore, we sailed past some incredible waterfront mansions.

Estate (b), Windsor, Ontario from Diamond Queen, Detroit River, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 Estate (a), Windsor, Ontario from Diamond Queen, Detroit River, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01

We watched as gulls and cormorants take wing at the approach of our tour boat,

Gull from Diamond Queen, Detroit River, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 Cormorant from Diamond Queen, Detroit River, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01

passed the Hiram Walker (Canadian Club) Distillery

Hiram Walker Corporate Offices, Windsor, Ontario from Diamond Queen, Detroit River, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 Hiram Walker Distillery, Windsor, Ontario from Diamond Queen, Detroit River, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01 Hiram Walker Grain Storage, Windsor, Ontario from Diamond Queen, Detroit River, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01A memorial to Canadians who died in the Vietnam War
Canadian Vietnam Memorial from Diamond Queen, Detroit River, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01and a lake freighter offloading ore below the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

Lake Freigher Offloading Ore  from Diamond Queen, Detroit River, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01After reversing course we headed up-river back toward Detroit.

Detroit City skyline under the Ambassador Bridge

Detroit Skyline Under the Ambassador Bridge from Diamond Queen, Detroit River, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01
Detroit Princess Riverboat

Detroit Princess from Diamond Queen, Detroit River, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01
Gateway to Freedom International Memorial celebrating Detroit’s part in the Underground Railroad network which reached from the Deep South to Canada

Gateway to Freedom Monument from Diamond Queen, Detroit River, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01
People of varying nationalities walking along and waving from Riverwalk

 Muslim Men, Riverwalk, Detroit, MI - 2014-08-01

Every once in a while, someone catches you in an unusual pose. Well, it happened to me on the rush hour ride back to our campground from Detroit!

2014-08-01 - Dick Asleep on Bob's Sholder in Van Enroute Back to Haas RV Campground, MI

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