Liza Martz (lizamartz) wrote,
Liza Martz

Detroit City Here We Come!

A  website I follow, Atlas Obscura a Compendium of the World's Wonders, Curiosities, & Esoterica,  is running a feature on my hometown, Detroit, Michigan. They are focusing on the good stuff which makes for a nice change.

Since I am a copy cat, I'm going to do the same. To clarify a point, the city is not being featured because it is the place of my birth but because it's interesting and mysterious and has a reputation of being kind of scary. 

Let's start off with scary to get it out of the way. Upon arriving in the city, visitors are greeted by this...KAPOW!

The fist is there to honor Joe Louis, a champion boxer who hailed from Detroit long ago. It's a nice gesture, so to speak, if you know what it means. If you don't, you might think it has something to do with this sort of thing.

Yes, my friend, there is plenty of graffiti to be found in Detroit. Some of the "artists" are rather good but ...

Let us move on to some of the gentler monuments and moments still to be found in the Motor City.

Prior to exiting the freeway you'll see a building with peeling green paint and a neon sign proclaiming, "500,000 Books."   John R. King Used & Rare Books resides in an elderly brick building that was once a glove factory. It sits next to a Greyhound Bus Station and across the freeway from a gambling casino. It doesn't look like much from the oustide...

But inside - paradise!

There are books, of course, four stories worth for the general public and another couple hundred thousand rare ones available for viewing by appointment only.

Are you interested in Amish quilts? Pirates, treasure hunting, or whaling? Looking for sheet music, LPs, back issues of magazines? If you ever get to this place be sure to allow yourself a couple of hours of browsing time because you're going to need it. Oh, and bring money, you will not go away empty handed, I promise.

When you leave John King, you hop on the freeway and head into the city. Look past the fist and you'll see an earlier sculpture, The Spirit of Detroit. A giant green guy gazes beneficently upon a golden family in his right hand, while balancing what appears to be the sun in his left.  It was created to signify human relationships and God.  Now that's more like it!

At times this kindly green giant has sported a Red Wings hockey jersey in support of the local team during playoffs. And once upon a Thanksgiving pranksters "borrowed" an enormous plastic hamburger from a local chain restaurant display, placed it over the family, and put a sign in front of it that read, "Let no on go hungry on this day." 

Across the street from the fist is Hart Plaza. During the summer the plaza is hopping with concerts, food vendors, fireworks, parades. The circle in the center is a fountain designed for running through and playing. The steps on the far side of the plaza look out over the Detroit River to Canada. It's a great place to have lunch or just to sit and watch the ginormous Great Lakes freighters gliding into port.

Cruise along the main drag through the city and with a few turns you'll find yourself at the Eastern Market. This place rocks!

On Saturday farmers from the U.S. and Canada set up their stalls inside the pavilions and along the streets selling produce so fresh you might have picked it yourself. 

Fresh cold cuts, aged cheeses, imported mustards, pickles and spices, terra cotta pots, rattan chairs, and much more are available year round at the stores surrounding the produce pavilions. In the summertime local restaurants move outdoors and the marketplace is filled with the aroma of barbecued ribs, burgers, chicken. Bands, mimes, and street performers come out to entertain the families that flock to this marketplace every Saturday from April through November.

The Eastern Market is also the hub of the meat packing industry in Detroit. If you are feeling brave, you can enter the retail sections of the meat purveyors through a large refrigerator door, and shop for bargains and hard-to-find items like whole pigs

Or chitts and maws.

If you prefer a more traditional place to buy your meat, you can stroll over to the Gratiot Meat Market. There you can choose from several different meat merchants, get fresh chicken, cold cuts, and fish. 

No trip to the Eastern Market is complete without stopping at one of the many eateries for a treat that will keep you coming back for more. A genuine Detroit corned beef sandwich! Now you may be shaking your head thinking you can get corned beef without going to Detroit, and you probably can. But you can't get good corned beef anywhere but Detroit and if you don't believe me, ask the next Detroiter you meet. 

While this tour may seem rather short, it is due to my lack of pictures and not because there aren't any other exceedingly cool places to be found in Detroit. If you are patient, I will get out there soon with camera in hand to take more poor-quality pictures and post them on this blog. Thank you.

Tags: detroit cool places
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