Detroit was the best destination of that trip, something that surprises EVERYBODY!
Everyone I met told me not to go there: "dangerous", "devastated", "nothing to do there"... I guess if you have no good reasons to go to Detroit, of course, dont go, it's NOT a touristy place!
But I had some good ones:
- architecture: Detroit has the greatest buildings I have ever seen: Art Déco style, industrial buildings... I wanted to make a small study on "Industrial American heritage" (of course I haven't written anything so far...). Lots of building designed by Albert Kahn, my favourite architect.
- the Ford River Rouge factory: the largest factory in the WORLD, today partly destroyed. But there is still some awesome machines...
- and I wanted to feel the atmosphere of this city, understand a bit what happened. In the early 20th Century, Detroit was one of the richest city in the country. Today it's an abandonned town, from which people "escape" (population: 800 000 people now, 1 850 000 in 1950!). Ruined. Highest rate of homicide. Unemployment rate: near 50%. Dude!
And Detroit fascinates me because of the history of Music: hometown of Motown Records (they moved to LA in 1971, at their headquarter's location, there's now a parking...), bithplace of the techno music (Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Jeff Mills, Kevin Saunderson... all from Detroit), The Stooges, The White Stripes, The Supremes, The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye (and a lot more)...all these amazing artists started here! I definitevly have to come back for the very famous DEMF, Detroit Electronic Music Festival (http://www.demf.com/)
Once more, I had awesome couchsurfers, Gary and Cathy, who owe a cute house in Detroit historic District. Gary is film Maker (on you tube: Gary Schwartz animation movies, http://www.singleframefilms.com/), and Cathy used to be landscape designer in LA, today she is a member of many associations, and still do some art masterpieces in her garden : ). They were so nice. Excentric and neat.
They took me to meetings, introduced me to friends of their, drove me around... If you need to couchsurf in Detroit don't hesitate:
Ok. Pictures.(sorry I won't write a lot about each of them because it would take me forever.)
Downtown Detroit. I landed in the morning after a very uncomfortable night in the plane. But I was already superexcited.
Inside the Penobscot. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penobscot_Building)
Michigan Central Station. Abandonned in 1984. Can you believe! One of the most impressing building in town.
Heidelberg Street. Art Project (http://www.heidelberg.org/index2.html)
OMG! The Fisher Body Building, former plant of the car-making compagny. I can't describe what I felt when I saw it. It was so beautiful it nearly made me cry. Today closed, you can't penetrate inside, but my couchsurfers (who were around 50 years old) used to make parties on the top roof a few years ago...
At Piquette & Saint-Antoine street.
Ford River Rouge factory was the thing I didn't want to miss. This day was kind of funny: I knew you could visit the Ford Museum & Plant. I took the 15$ tour (!) but of course it did not go in the old factory, you only stayed the newest building. There was a museum, with movies about the history of Ford, a couple of cars, you could also see the Ford assembly line. BUT. I was NOT what I came for. At the exit of the museum I asked about "the dark old factory you see over there", and the keeper told me "oh no, don't go there, there are no buses to go there, oh no, it's dangerous, there's nothing to see bla bla bla". I was like "ok ok" but already walking in that direction. So I walked along the highway for 30 minutes, all the trucks honking at me. And i could get close to it! Another keeper told me to go away but I found a hole in the fence so I penetrated inside. I was so impressed by these machines, wires, pipes... Most of the original complex (which was as big as a town) has been destroyed, today some equipments still in use but they don't belong to Ford anymore.
After taking a tons of pictures, I tried ti figure out how to come back downtown (Cathy dropped me by car in the morning, but now I was on my own). I kept on walking along the road, surrounded by smoking factories. I found a bus stop but the bus never showed up, so after 30 minutes of waiting, a car stopped, a black guy asked "hey buddy , d'you need a ride (he didn't notice I was a girl)?". I jumped in the car, on the way we talked about why I came here, about Kid Rock (Detroit-born guy), Michael Jackson, God... He wanted to invite me for dinner but I was leaving the day after. He dropped me downtown, "God bless you honey". Actually he could have killed me, but when I'm travelling I'm really self-confident and I trust everybody... Untill today, nothing happened...
Back to dowtown, I took the People Mover, kind of aerial metro. Half of these building are empty. The city has no money either to renovate or to destroy them. It's almost that they let the time damage them, untill they fall by themselves. Most of them were theaters, luxury shops and hotels.
Awesome! They kept only the facade! And they are going to rebuild something behind !!!
The Fox Theater.
Inside the Fisher Building (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisher_Building)
I still have TONS of stuff to say about my time in Detroit: the General Motors headquarters, the Showtime clothes shop, "Good girls go to Paris' crêpes", the Detroit Institute of Arts, the riots in the 60's who destroyed the city... I'll just put some very interesting links if you want to read some more...
Thanks for reading!