|My Friends Lexi and Michael From LA Discovering Detroit For The First Time Last Week. Photo Credit: Me|
Is Detroit really the creative paradise you’ve heard it is? Can you truly live in a mansion for less rent than a shoebox-sized Brooklyn studio? One ex-New Yorker makes her case for Motor City.
The new Brooklyn? The new Berlin? Hell no. "Detroit is the new Detroit," says Motor City resident Michael Dedenbach - the big dreamer behind Detroit Clothing Circle, a vintage shop in the city's Midtown/Cass Corridor district. As a longtime Detroit denizen and former New Yorker, the area now reminds me a bit of the once-upon-a-time up-and-coming Williamsburg, complete with the triple threat of brunch spots, breweries and boutiques.
Not long ago, I took a walk around Midtown. In just a few years, it has had a major facelift with the addition of shiny new shops like Shinola, Willys, Nora and Hugh. I mean, there is a dog park on Canfield and Cass! All this in a neighborhood that didn't have street lamps a few years ago.
I then headed downtown to the transformed Belt Alley and the pimped-out parking structure known as the Z-Lot. Each of its decks feature large-scale murals and is one of many demonstrations of the revival of Detroit's public art scene. Near this cutting-edge garage is the equally cutting-edge gallery Library Street Collective - a modern and contemporary art space shaking up the scene with exhibitions like Cleon Peterson's POISON and recent work by the street artist Shepard Fairey.
I can't help but feel an undeniable excitement for Detroit. For a city that has gone through so much - financially, politically and socially - it's nice to feel like a community again. Obviously, we have a long way to go, but we are moving forward and you can feel it. (And see it - just look at the construction site for the city's new public transit option, the M-1 Rail, a modern streetcar line that will connect Detroit's Riverfront to its North End neighborhoods via Woodward Avenue.)
When I moved from the suburbs to the Midtown neighborhood of Detroit in the summer of 2005 for college, I knew nothing about the city. But like many creatives here, I fell in love with Detroit quicker than the purposeless People Mover can make its 2.9-mile trek around downtown. (The Detroit People Mover is a raised rail system with 13 stops and often not many more passengers.) There is just something inspiring about the city - the grit, the tenacity of its tenants, the gilded-age glamour of its architecture, and of course, its history.
After I spent a few years in NYC post-graduation working as a copywriter, I moved back to the metro Detroit area in the summer of 2012. As a writer and stylist based in Detroit, I've been lucky to see the city's most recent resurgence firsthand. Sourcing stories here has allowed me to rediscover the town and to work closely with other members of the tight-knit creative community.
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