A sculpture garden put up by Robert Sestok, an artist who has lived in the neighborhood since 1967. CreditLaura McDermott for The New York Times

The traveler’s brain is programmed to recognize arrival in a major city using certain previously identified patterns: dense settlement, heavy traffic, pedestrian bustle.

Detroit does not compute, at least at first. Long-known associations (auto industry, Motown, cherished sports franchises) give way to first impressions: vast stretches of empty lots, surreal semi-ruins, traffic so shockingly light that streets of the Motor City might as well be one big bike lane.

But upon exploration, signs of the recent Detroit revival emerge — artists snapping up foreclosed homes, a thriving culinary scene, major housing developments, the oft-praised RiverWalk with views across to Windsor, Ontario (to the south, just to throw the brain an added twist). And more than anything, energetic mini-neighborhoods vibrant with commercial, creative and civic activity. It’s not just the houses that are inexpensive but, with some exceptions, the city as a whole. I was impressed, and sometimes shocked ($3 local IPAs!) by the low cost of a visit — if you avoid the fancier new spots serving $4.50 coffees, that is.

That revival, and its budget-friendly status, have made Detroit an attraction for more than just domestic tourists.

“Everyone in Berlin wants to visit Detroit,” said Leen, an Englishwoman who lives in Berlin whom I met on the RiverWalk, during one of several free tours given by Detroit Experience Factory. (They are a good introduction to the city.) She noted that Detroit was the birthplace of techno, and Berlin was where it grew up. There’s another parallel, of course: A few decades ago parts of Berlin, too, emptied out, and the vacuum was filled with a brand of young people not entirely unlike those coming into Detroit today.

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