I’ve felt comfortable and welcome in Detroit from the start, albeit I had never lived here before. I had only been to the better off fringes, the burbs as people call them. North of 8 Mile Road, which demarcates the city limit.
But the cityscapes of Detroit that I have explored over the past weeks were eerily familiar to me. I knew them. I liked them. For milliseconds I felt exhilarated by just walking through Detroit. In my mind I was at home. The streets and houses were of a rawness that radiates its own beauty.
The cityscapes reminded me of East Germany after the Berlin Wall fell, and with it the old economy, including thousands of jobs. Factories turned into skeletons, plight moved in. Cities became chess boards of occupied and abandoned blocks.
Over the past 25 years, since Germany’s reunion, some blocks, some industry and some jobs have come back. Lately, the recuperation has accelerated. At least in the bigger cities. Leipzig has turned into “Hypezig.” Every time I visit my old neighborhood another small store with organic food, abstract art or stylish knick-knacks has moved in. It’s a d-light. Which brings me back to the “D,” as some people here refer to their city lovingly.
In Detroit plenty of spaces are ready for new occupants, quirky projects, artists, pioneers, and entrepreneurs. An atmosphere of departure permeates the city, and is in fact just the most recent application of the city’s motto: “Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus – We hope for better things; it shall rise from the ashes.” But rather than waiting for change, as our tour guide said, Detroit is a big city that is small enough for you to make a big impact. Simply by being here, you can be part of the change.
This post is the beginning of a series of photos I took while discovering Detroit. The first batch depicts the old Michigan Central Train Station and the excavation sites of the Wayne State University Archaeology Department around it in Roosevelt Park.