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ZachariahDaMan

My first Detroit visit

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I plan on going to Detroit for the first time really soon and I was wondering if you guys could tell me places that I should go to, like parks, certain sections of roads. Seeing as I have never been there I don't know too much about the city. I've been wanting to go there for a while now but haven't really had the chance, I got my license a few months ago, it's great having a lot more freedom and not needing rides to go everywhere. I'd appreciate any help!

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I plan on going to Detroit for the first time really soon and I was wondering if you guys could tell me places that I should go to, like parks, certain sections of roads. Seeing as I have never been there I don't know too much about the city. I've been wanting to go there for a while now but haven't really had the chance, I got my license a few months ago, it's great having a lot more freedom and not needing rides to go everywhere. I'd appreciate any help!

I was working on writing up a web page for people like you (or rather, people like me ;) but I haven't gotten it up yet. So off the top of my head:

Drive down Woodward from 9 Mile in Ferndale to Downtown and you'll see quite a bit.

Then drive out of downtown on Michigan Ave, make a u-turn when you get to the Michigan Central Station, and turn right on Vernor Hwy (right in front of the MCS). Drive down Vernor through Mexicantown (pick up some baked goods from one of the bakeries!) and stay on Vernor by turning left after going under some train tracks. You can drive Vernor for another mile or so through Southwest Detroit. The main "corner" will be at Vernor and Springwells. You can drive down Springwells too if you want but it's more sparse. Still, this area is a pretty lively ethnic neighborhood.

Then I'd head back and take a left (north) on Livernois, though it'll actually be Dragoon, a one way street, that you'll turn on. This takes you back to Michigan Ave where you can choose to go left to explore more of this once grand avenue or turn right to head back downtown. Don't miss Slow's BBQ on the way back! It's in Corktown, right across from the MCS.

Downtown, you can drive around every street on the east side of Woodward and you'll see signs of life, especially when the neon lights come on. You can walk around after you've gotten a feel for the streets driving around them.

If it's a Saturday before 4, go to the Eastern Market although you won't want to drive into the core of the market because you'll be stuck behind a buncha cars trying to park. Park and walk around. After 4, you can drive through all the little streets that go through this food warehouse district. There's also the dead riverfront warehouse district east of downtown, south of Jefferson.

Midtown is fun to drive around. Cass and Second and on the west side of Woodward, mostly north of MLK. Willis is a side street with some cool shops (like Avalon Bakery).

If you get a chance to visit Hamtramck, Caniff, Joseph Campau, and Conant are your main drags.

Further north, you'll find burgeoning Chaldean Town east of Woodward on 7 Mile where you'll find Iraqi bakeries but it's not a pretty road.

There are a ton of other roads in Detroit that are somewhat interesting, where you can tell they used to be great streets.

Oh yeah, don't forget to check out Campus Martius and take a round on the People Mover. And walk around Greektown/Bricktown and Harmonie Park.

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I plan on going to Detroit for the first time really soon and I was wondering if you guys could tell me places that I should go to, like parks, certain sections of roads. Seeing as I have never been there I don't know too much about the city. I've been wanting to go there for a while now but haven't really had the chance, I got my license a few months ago, it's great having a lot more freedom and not needing rides to go everywhere. I'd appreciate any help!

WOW! Your first time. That is very unfortunate for you that it took 16 years. I live in a family that is full of typical surbubanites, but my first time was when I was born. LOL! The time I remember going down for the first time was probably for a Junior Red Wings Hockey Game. I was probably around 2 years old or so. Sorry to brag. ;)

Your first stop should be to walk around Campus Martius Park. Stop at Lafayette Coney Island for some good food. Check out some of the new and some of the old architecture. Then take the people mover on up to Grand Circus and check out the Stadia and the historical buildings. Take the pm down to the Michigan Station and walk the rest of the way down Washington Boulevard to Hart Plaza. Walk to the plaza in front of the Wintergarden at the RenCen. Get back onto the pp or walk to Bricktown/Greektown and check things out there. Then walk back to Campus Martius to your car.

If your parents are really afraid of Detroit, tell them you are going down to the Auto Show or the Superbowl festivities. If you want to do some of that check them out. But every visitor to Detroit needs to stop at the always open American or Lafayette Coney Island. THE BEST! A quick question, when are you going to make your way downtown? For some alternatives, you might want to check out Midtown, New Center, Corktown, or the East Riverfront. That is always fun. TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES!

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I'm not too sure yet when I will be going. Honestly I won't even be telling my parents I'm going to Detroit because I know they wouldn't be okay with it, I'm just saying I'm going to my girlfriends. I might try for the weekend after this if I get the time.

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I highly recommend walking downtown. The street grid can be pretty confusing to some at first. Plus the Super Bowl road closures started this week, and driving downtown will only get tougher as the Super Bowl gets closer. I'd park in the Compuware parking structure (at least if you go before they close off Farmer Street on the 27th). You can go buy an ice cream cone at Ben & Jerry's or a cup of coffee at The Blend in the Compuware Building so that you can get your parking ticket validated.

Check out the Guardian Building at Congress & Griswold. If you're there in the morning (before 11:00am) ask Christopher, the doorman, to show you around. From there you can walk around the financial district and check out the other buildings, like the Buhl, Penobscot, & Dime.

At Michigan & Griswold is Lafayette Coney Island. Every Detroiter must eat there at some point. It is a good people watching spot, and is also one of the few 24 hour establishments downtown. A bit further up Griswold is Capitol Park, my favorite downtown enclave (also home to the Stott Building & Farwell Building). If coney dogs don't sound good, try the Detroit Pizza Factory on Griswold. From Capitol Park, travel west on State to Washington Boulevard (one block over). This will give you the opportunity to see buildings like the Book-Cadillac Hotel, Book Tower, United Artists Theater, etc. The Archdiocese of Detroit at State & Washington is a beautiful building inside. If it is open, go inside and check it out...the people there are more than happy to show you around. Take Washington to Grand Circus Park. Check out the Kales & the Park Avenue area. Then walk down Woodward to Campus Martius. From there you can walk Monroe to Greektown & Bricktown.

Midtown is more driveable. Be sure to check out Brush Park (between Woodward, I-75, & Mack). There are some really nice old apartment buildings further north toward Wayne State. I recommend a trip to see the interior of the Detroit Public Library too. Just don't get distracted in the Burton Historical Collection like I always do!

North of Midtown is New Center. Stop in and see the Fisher Building. There New Center Commons neighborhood is just a couple of blocks north of the Fisher. Longfellow, Chicago, Boston, & Edison Streets between Woodward & Linwood make up the Boston-Edison historic district. It's worth a drive through. The University District (between McNichols, 7 Mile, Livernois, & Palmer Park) as well as Sherwood Forest & Palmer Woods (Between 7 Mile, Pembroke, Livernois, & Woodward) are all nice areas to drive through.

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Zachariah, I think you need to sit down with your parents and fight your battle. Make them a deal, "I will take you to Detroit and prove your whole viewpoint wrong." I did it. I mean yea I feel like they think I am weird, but now I have a lot of good conversations with them about Detroit. I think I have actually helped them believe in Detroit. Right now I am working on my english teacher, who lived in Detroit for most of his life. Now he lives in Sterling "Whites" along with all the other families involved in White Flight. He doesn't like Detroit so much because he was stabbed over a bike and he saw his friend shot and killed because the friend was standing next to a drug dealer. He literly sold his writing for money so he could get out of the Public School System and be safer in a private Catholic School. He got beat for being left handed. But Just Do It. Let out your feelings. Ok I will stop, now I am sounding like a stupid high school counselor.

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I wouldnt recommend decieving your parents so you can see Detroit. Take a friend along if that helps and explain in great detail what you will be doing down there and that you will be completely safe. That worked for me a few years back on my first solo adventures.

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I would have to agree with Zissou on that one. I learned that the hard way. Tell your parents where you are going, and bring a friend along. It's always more fun if you are with a friend anyway.

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I would have to agree with Zissou on that one. I learned that the hard way. Tell your parents where you are going, and bring a friend along. It's always more fun if you are with a friend anyway.

What if something were to really happen to you? Your parents wouldn't know where to look after finding out you are not at your girls house. Alright we should stop now. I have no room to talk because I am younger. LOL!

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And therein lies the problem. You see, once your parents find out that you aren't where you say you are, their level of trust in you errodes. Things only get worse from there. Just trust me on that one...I've been there and done that.

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This many posts and no mention of Belle Isle. Check out the skyline from the park, see the sights, drive the loop, gawk at canada. Then after you are done go a little further east on Jefferson and explore my neighborhood, West Village (and, yeah, I hear Indian Village is kinda nice too). From there you can drive Jefferson to Grosse Pointe or take Grand Boulevard to New Center (and get to drive by the massive Packard Plant as well).

Show the east side some love.

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Very true. If you really want to go to Detroit, you need to start off easy with your parents.

For example, my parents were more worried about distance than crime. In the beginning, They knew I'd stick to downtown and nowhere else. The first time I ever drove to Detroit without my parents was after my sophomore year of highschool. I think I was 17 then. My parents would only let me go if I was with one other friend. We went to Ford Field and ate in Greektown. Granted, we did the real touristy things, but it was a way to start off easy. I soon built my parents trust and I could go to more places in the city and spend more time there. By my senior year, they didn't mind too much if I went alone. And by college, I didn't even need to ask, lol. Although my parents always want me to call them if I ever go exploring abandoned buildings. They are well aware of my hobby, and it helps to tell them where I am if I'm doing something really dangerous.

I don't know if this method will go easy with your parents as it did with mine. Keep in mind the crime wasn't a huge issue here because I lived in a city that had a lot of it as well. Distance was the factor though, and that's a hard thing for parents to deal with. Realize your parents are right to be concerned. They aren't wrong for not letting you go, you did just get your license after all. About 90% of the people I know would have never even been able to go to A2 a few months after they got it because it's a traffic nightmare.

All I can say is, if you are going to go to Detroit reguardless of our comments, at least go with someone else. But if things go wrong, realize you might not be able to go Anywhere after that.

LOL @ Chow. Exploring the East side the first day he's been in Detroit might be a little much, although I would recommend Belle Isle. But going to Indian Village and other places like that will require him to know the city a little bit better or he'll be driving in circles on the East side. (or on them if he's over by Tyree :silly: ).

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LOL, we've given him enough ideas to last for about 10 trips to Detroit. I know I didn't even cover all of downtown the first time I went down by myself.

A loop around the Boulevard is always fun. Start on the west side, and take it all the way to Belle Isle or vice versa. You'll see the Packard Plant, Fisher Building, Cadillac Place, Lee Plaza, Belle Isle, etc.

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There is a sort of rule-of-thumb regarding Parent's visiting the city:

Take them to Greek Town. Get saganaki (OPA!). Astoria Bakery.

Afterwards, if they can handle more:

Campus Martius/Compuware Lobby. Borders. Point out loft conversions across the street.

If you are trying to introduce them to Midtown:

TJ's. West Canfield Historic District. DIA/'Cultural Center'

This is a situation ALOT of people have had to go through, and these seem to be the defacto things to do/see.

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I never really started "exploring" Detroit until I was 18. In fact, probably the only reason I got so interested in the city was because my mom decided she didn't want to pay for parking one time when she had to go to the Friend of the Court. Basically my sister and I drove around the city for about an hour waiting for her to call us back. Granted, we had been to Detroit countless times before that (to see the fireworks, red wings, parade, etc.), but this was the first time I ever drove through the city on my own.

We drove around downtown and along Jefferson all the way to the Belle Isle Bridge. We also took Cass up through Midtown and Woodward back. Since then, I've traveled on just about every major street and through at least half the neighborhoods.

The only thing I can say is that don't plan ahead, you'll just get yourself disoriented. The best way to explore the city is by just going where the road takes you. I used to just go out and explore and then go back and trace my route using Mapquest. That way I became more familiar with the street layout. Granted, you should familiarize yourself with the city beforehand using Google Maps or something.

When you're in the city, it's always best to know where you are in relation to downtown, but don't worry about getting lost. You're never far from a freeway or spoke road, so just keep driving until you find one. Also, I wouldn't go too far off the main roads until you've become more familiar with the city.

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I don't think I could add much more than what's already been said, except to restate involving your parents.

There are actually many reasons why parent should want to bring their kid to Detroit. As you know many of the cultural centers are located in the city as well as the sports venues. Those are all good family oriented activities. Perhaps pick out a couple of special things happening at those and ask if they'd go with you.

In a couple of weeks (your time frame) is the Superbowl week. There are actually events targeted for families before the game day. Is your dad into sports? Or maybe someone else that your parents would trust - parents of your close friends, uncles, aunts, etc.?

On your first trip, the downtown is plenty for you to explore - particularly if you'll be there during the Superbowl week.

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I can see why you guys don't want me lying to my parents about where I am going, I'll definately try having a talk with them about how where I would be going isn't nearly as bad as they think but I can guarantee you right now I won't get through to them at all. I know my dad won't even let me talk about it, he will say no right away and say he doesn't want to hear any more about it. As much as I don't want to lie to them I really want to go to Detroit and I don't feel like waiting until I move out to do it.

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Tell your parents you are going to hang out at The Lexington Apartments in Southfield. When they oppose that bring up the fact you are going to Detroit, and The Lexington should overshadow Detroit.

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Tell your parents you are going to hang out at The Lexington Apartments in Southfield. When they oppose that bring up the fact you are going to Detroit, and The Lexington should overshadow Detroit.

I don't understand the logic behind that...

Anyhow, if what you say turns out to be true, it sounds as if there's much more to why your parents are against you going to Detroit than just the matter of safety issues. I mean, I've met many people who don't like/fear/hate Detroit for variety of reasons, but none of them would stop them from coming to town to see a band they like or participating in once in many decades opportunity like the Super Bowl.

Whatever the case, do consult your parents. They might surprise you - particularly if there's a reason for your visit other than wondering around town.

I'm also surprised that your school didn't make at least one field trip into Detroit to visit the DIA or the Science Museum, etc. I thought such field trips were pretty standard in this region.

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Don't worry about getting to Detroit right away. Like I said, give it time to build up their trust.

When I went to college, and to avoid paying insurance costs I sold my car which was sitting in the garage back at home. The next summer, my parents would make several trips to Los Angeles to help move my sister when she landed a better job out there. I was left at home with only my parents car and had a little fun going places. I didn't go to Detroit, but places much further.

Oops! I drove to Chicago for the hell of it.

Oops! I drove to Baltimore to see friends.

My parents were suprisingly cool with it when they called back home (or my cell phone) to see how I was doing.

"So how's everything back at home?"

Me: "Uh, well, I'm in Baltimore."

"What!..... oh well, that's nice, are you having fun?"

I don't know if you'll ever get to that point, but just remember, I NEVER got to drive to Detroit until almost a year after I got my license. I didn't go places behind my parents back so I got their trust, and then I got to do something radical when they were gone, haha. At least then I could pull the "I'm a college student, so I'm free to go anywhere" line.

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Oh, is it story time? LOL.

Shortly after I got my license, I had to go to Southfield for something school-related. My parents were expecting me to go down, and then go right back home. Instead I decided to take a little side trip to Detroit. I thought to myself, "they'd NEVER let me go to Detroit by myself, so I should go now while I have the chance." I had a great afternoon downtown. I really had no idea where I was going (I pretty much navigated based on landmarks), and took a few hundred photos of what was very interesting and totally new scenery for me. I had only been to Detroit a handful of times, since my parents feel that big cities are evil, dangerous places that should be avoided at all costs.

Fast forward a few hours. I arrive home about 4 hours after I was expected home. My mom immediately questioned where I had been. I lied and told them that things had taken longer than I had expected, and that I then stopped at the mall on the way home (Yeah right! Like I'd go to a mall...what was I thinking?). Needless to say, a quick look at all the photographic evidence on my computer was all that it took for them to realize that I wasn't where I told them where I was going to be. Since I had violated their trust, they were very upset with me. They did not trust me nearly as much as they did before...I was constantly asked where I would be, and my parents always thought I was lying when I was really telling the truth. My father was especially angry - not because I went to Detroit - but because I had lied. He started accusing me of things I would never ever do. This was the begining of a downward spiral in the relationship between my father and I that went on for years, and unfortunately, still has not been completely repaired.

And all because I took a little side trip without my parents' permission! I later figured out that if I had just asked first there would have been no problems at all - just as long as I called them every couple of hours to tell them that I was ok. I was just glad they didn't take away my license, since I did do something very stupid....

As for my parents' feelings on Detroit....Well, my mom sees that things are improving, but anything outside of downtown is considered to be an "unsafe area." My father still thinks that Detroit is the fifth level of hell...just one massive ghetto where people just pull out guns and shoot each other for the hell of it. You can bet that any and all articles that portray Detroit in a negative light end up in my inbox. Maybe if I could actually get him to go south of 8 Mile he'd see that his perception of the city is pretty far off.

Everytime I go home my father warns me about staying out of abandoned buildings too, though he knows that his advice falls on deaf ears. My mom doesn't have a problem with it (surprisingly), as long as she knows that I'm with a couple friends. She wishes that I wouldn't, but knows that I will regardless of what she tells me.

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No, he just remembers the city when it was much worse than it is today. Things have improved a lot in the past decade.

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And therein lies the problem. You see, once your parents find out that you aren't where you say you are, their level of trust in you errodes. Things only get worse from there. Just trust me on that one...I've been there and done that.

LOL, I think MOST of us have been there and done that before :whistling:

This thread is a real eye opener to me. I never knew so many people had to over come so much just to hang out in The D. I'm glad that you all finally made it here though. I guess because I was raised here, things might have been a little different for me. Me and my parents would always go to the festivals in the summer time, autoshow in the winter, and when I turned 16 I brought myself downtown (All the way from the NW side of the city).

BTW, coming downtown for the first time and missing the riverwalk would be an unforgivable sin.

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Great stories! lol

I remember the phone conversation with my parents when I lived in East Lansing informing them of my decision to move to Detroit.

Mom & Dad: "Oh, what suburb are you looking for apartments in?"

Me: "Well, I'd rather live near campus should I decide to enroll at WSU."

M & D: "That's nice, but have you found any places in Troy or...what's that place, Royal Oak?"

Me: "Well, no, I mean Detroit."

M & D: "Yah, so do we."

(By now, I'm laughing.)

Me: "In the city, it's nicer."

M & D: "Well...umm...hmmm...uhh...shoo...errr...you know what you're talking about, so if that's what you want to do."

Me: "Don't worry so much about it. I've been there many times now and it's just like anywhere else, but with its own unique strengths and weaknesses."

Anyway, they were in denial until the day we were moving all my junk from Lansing to Detroit. We went out to buy some furniture for my place at the Park Shelton, so they decided to spend the night since they live near the Upper Peninsula. They drove my grandpa's pickup truck down so that we could transport all of the large items. We parked it out on the street (Kirby) in view from my window. My dad was so paranoid through out the night that he kept getting up to make sure it was still there.

The next day, we went to church at Old Ste. Mary's in Greektown and I took them on a walking tour through downtown. This was before Campus Martius, during Woodward streetscaping, etc...and they were really impressed with being informed of all the neat stuff happening.

The climax of their visit was when we were walking down the torn-up Washington Blvd and my mom says, "I can't believe I'm walking in downtown Detroit right now"... As if it was similar to blasting off from Cape Canaveral and walking around on the moon...something she never fathomed ever doing in her lifetime.

The great thing is they now come down every summer and we go watch a Tiger's game. They are getting good at recruiting my extended family (all up north) to coming down for the event too. There's still some of that negative rhetoric that you find in most of the general public, but my family is really catching on to what the real Detroit (and metro) is like, especially my dad...he asks all the great questions and tries to play "Urban Planner" with me. It's pretty funny.

My biggest hurdle recently is that my sister just moved to Chicago for grad school at Northwestern, so she lives in the loop about 4 blocks west of the John Hancock Center. Needless to say, mom and dad have kind of taken to Chicago because of its "wow" factor. We're an extremely rural-oriented family (except for me), so visiting any place larger than say Midland, MI is a big step for them.

So, Zach, you should get your parents to with you (as a family) down to the auto show this weekend. Afterwards, you can walk over to the Hard Rock Cafe (through Campus Martius Park of course). If they're not interested in the auto show, see if they would like to just go out to eat at the Hard Rock. The nice thing about that restaurant is that it has that national image of attraction for the general public. You can also be open to a nice place in Greektown. :)

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