I spent a couple days emerged in Detroit’s Motown music history and experienced a Detroit that is “catching the bounce”. I was a bit hesitant to vist at first. It has been a good five years since I’ve been in Detroit and my last visit wasn’t very impressive. However, I’ve been hearing tidbits here and there over the past year that Detroit was on the rise and should be on my radar for a visit.
After spending a couple days in Motown I have to say I’m really impressed with Detroit’s comeback; if ever there was a city that should be dubbed a Phoenix, it should probably be Detroit. From bankruptcy, high unemployment and crime sprees to a vibrant, cleaned upped city that people are proud to call home. I’m thrilled to share Detroit’s bounce back with you.
I kicked off my visit with lunch at The Majestic Theater. The Majestic Theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to 3 concert venues, 2 bars, the oldest operating bowling alley operating in the U.S., Sgt. Pepperoni’s Pizzeria & Deli and the Majestic Cafe. After a tour of the Majestic I enjoyed a delicious meal at the cafe. Typically I only order seafood when I’m visiting a coastal destination, but I decided to live dangerously and ordered the Lobster Mac & Cheese. It was so very good! I also taste tested the brussel sprouts, sweet potato fries, and crab cakes. Nothing disappointed my taste buds. I have to make my way back to the Majestic for some concerts and bowling. It looked like too much fun.
The Motown Museum was up next. It opened in 1985 to preserve the history of Motown music and “tells the story of how a man’s vision turned into one of the largest, most successful record companies of all time and how the music captured the hearts of young people, not only in America, but across the globe.” (http://www.motownmuseum.org/about-the-museum/). All museum visits are by guided tour and lasts about 45 minutes. Our guide was young, enthusiastic, and very knowledge about the museum. She told great stories about Barry Gordy, who started Motown Music, and the artists that recorded in Studio A. Groups like the Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Supremes, and Temptations all recorded in Studio A. The Motown history in Studio A is pretty stunning AND during the tour I stood and sang in the studio. It was pretty fantastic!
I topped off the Motown Museum experience by going to see Motown, The Musical at the Fisher Theater (gorgeous theater and worth a visit even if there isn’t a show). The production showcased almost all of the Motown hits and it’s easy to find yourself singing along. My Girl, which I sang in Studio A earlier in the day, was sung on stage that night. I love when things come full circle. Other favorites included Dancing in the Street, I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Pie), I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Money (That’s What I Want), Stop In The Name Of Love and so many more. Of course, watching Motown, The Musical in Motown gives the musical an extra little kick.
The next morning it was a tour with Kim of Show Me Detroit Tours to see how Detroit is making its significant comeback. Clean streets, new businesses, community activities, festivals and more are now a vibrant part of downtown. The current hockey arena is going to be torn down and a new arena is being built near Comerica Park and Ford Field which will allow the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions and the Detroit Red Wings to all be located in close proximity to each other for one giant sport complex. A street car is being installed along Woodward Ave (one of Detroit’s main streets) and will be a 3.3 mile circuitous route passing my some of Detroit’s hot spots.
No visit to the city would be complete without stepping inside the Guardian Building. This Art Deco building is a hidden treasure in the city and is jaw dropping beautiful on the inside. Multiple parks dot the waterfront and provide a great place to have a picnic or to relax.
After spending the morning exploring Detroit I stopped in at Bert’s in Eastern Market (a 6-block farmers market in operation since 1891) for lunch. Bert’s is tied to Motown music as well. Bert’s co-owner, Miller London, was the very first African American record salesman for Motown Records. Bert’s offers goo southern food and bbq.
Overall it was a fantastic trip through the city. If you are looking for a weekend getaway I really recommend a visit to Detroit. Learn more by visiting www.visitdetroit.com.
Welcome back Detroit, you make this Michigander proud.