The downtown Motown rebound

Saturday evening I attended a fantastic concert by the Canadian alternative rock band Metric at the historic Fillmore Detroit Theater on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit. On the way there I missed my intended exit and instead took the Lafayette Avenue exit from Interstate 375.


While delaying us just a bit, the alternate route gave me a chance to see some parts of downtown Detroit that I had not seen in a few years including Greektown and Campus Martius. While there remains an unacceptable number of empty storefronts, my immediate reaction was, “what’s going on?” No, it wasn’t “just my imagination running away with me,” and no, I didn’t “hear it through the grapevine,” I was seeing with my own two eyes. Many (MANY) people happily walking the streets of center city Detroit at 7:15 p.m.


No Tigers baseball game that day and no Lion’s football until Sunday afternoon, so those could not account for the number of pedestrians, cyclists, and cars. There were so many people in fact, that I just smiled and thought “mercy, mercy me.”  The images of an active downtown Detroit set me on “cloud nine” for the rest of the evening. And I think anyone else who knows and/or has “endless love” for Detroit will definitely “second that emotion.”

Even following the show at 11:15 p.m., we passed a local pub where there was a long line of customers out the door and at least ten bicycles parked on a bike rack. More evidence to me that the city of Detroit “really has a hold on” people and they are staying there “all night long.”

Is everything perfect? Of course not – “you can’t hurry love.” A number of parts of the city are still suffering from a case of the “inner city blues.” But, as more and more people “shop around” they are finding that “living for the city” of Detroit is exactly what they want.


Despite what you may have heard in the past, Detroit remains a great city.  Its downtown area contains the nation’s preeminent collection of classic skyscrapers that are mixed among newer high-rises, sporting and entertainment venues, and several casinos. The city’s historic and unique street pattern lends itself to making downtown a fairly compact, walkable, and very special place.

The good news is people and businesses have “signed, sealed, and delivered” themselves back to the heart of this great metropolis. I cannot count the number of positive media stories there have been in recent years. This continuing trend in downtown, in nearby midtown, and in an increasing number of other neighborhoods across Detroit has “made me (and many others) so very happy” and should have people locally, statewide, and nationally literally “dancing in the streets.”    Kudos to Motown – you and your downtown are definitely on the rebound.

This entry was posted in Active transportation, adaptive reuse, architecture, bicycling, Canada, Cars, cities, civics, civility, Cuisine, culture, density, diversity, economic development, economic gardening, entertainment, fun, geography, historic preservation, history, land use, music, new urbanism, North America, placemaking, planning, revitalization, skylines, spatial design, third places, tourism, transportation, Travel, walking and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The downtown Motown rebound

  1. basil berchekas jr says:

    This is an excellent factual article on Detroit’s downtown rebirth!


  2. Rob says:

    Why are there no people in the pictures?


  3. Carey says:

    It was also bumping along in Midtown by WSU with Dally… the place was packed.
    Glad you see what is coming along in this city… it’s a slow climb but we’re trying!


  4. usecraigslist says:

    Very exciting to hear! Glad there is a segment of folks who are able to make a go of it business-wise and create places to come to.

    [And while I’m happy things are turning around, I find it necessary to recognize the fundamental baggage that Detroit continues to carry: namely its choice to remain with the failed mayor-council (“strong mayor”) form of local government that is doing Detroiters no favors. Their charter commission had a chance to change this earlier this year, but did not. Let it be a cautionary tale to similar cities (ahem!).]


  5. Rick Smith says:

    Rick I have to say that this article “keep me hangin’ on” and “he was really sayin’ somethin’” which warmed “this old heart of mine.” “I can’t help myself” I love Motown!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.