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Help Detroit Get Out of the Red–Be a Tourist!

by Sandra Scott

The city of Detroit may have filed for bankruptcy but that doesn’t mean everything is shut down. Trust me, tourist spots will be delighted to see you—and, there is a lot to see. Plus, you can feel good knowing you are helping the economy and the working people of Detroit. Think about it. Tourism helps restaurants, cabbies, hotels, souvenir vendors, and you will have a great time exploring the city. Here are my favourite things to do in Detroit.

Cadillac Hotel

Credit: Westin Book Cadillac Detroit

I stayed at the lovely resorted 1924 landmark knowing full well that during its heyday I couldn’t have afforded it. When the hotel opened it was the tallest building in Detroit and the tallest hotel in the world. The hotel is an Italian Renaissance masterpiece that is just one example of the city’s architectural diversity.

The Detroit Institute of Art
Credit: Sandra Scott

Credit: Sandra Scott

The DIA has one of the country’s greatest art collections, including frescoes by Mexican artist Diego Rivera. Detroit Industry in the Rivera Court is a tribute to the Detroit labour force of the 1930s. There are daily guided tours along with one-day art-making workshops.

Charles Wright Museum of African American History
Credit: Sandra Scott

Credit: Sandra Scott

This is one of my favourite museums. The “And Still We Rise” exhibit takes people on a journey beginning in prehistoric Africa, through civilizations that evolved on the continent, the Middle Passage, the horrors of bondage, and for a few, freedom via the Underground Railroad.

Hitsville U.S.A.
Credit: Sandra Scott

Credit: Sandra Scott

At the Motown Museum, learn about the history of Motown. As my guide explained, Motown is “about music and hope, not colour.” The Motown Sound is soul music with a pop influence that leaped across racial barriers. Visit Studio A, where the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes and many others made their recordings. Don’t be surprised if you are asked to sing a rendition of My Girl.

The Quirky
Credit: Sandra Scott

Credit: Sandra Scott

The Heidelberg Project, in the McDougall-Hunt neighbourhood, is one of the most distinct art projects I have ever seen. The outdoor art/neighbourhood enhancement project has been controversial since its beginnings, and recently one of the buildings suffered a suspicious fire, but it has received international acclaim. What looks like a pile of junk is an art-scape project that gives new energy to a deteriorating neighbourhood by creating meaningful art from the discards of urban life.

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