Polaroids Around the Old Tobacco Factories

This part of the city is changing fast.  What was once the busy industrial center that kept this city alive, had died and gone vacant.  No one dared wander these empty streets. Especially at night.

Nothing was around but an obscure coffee shop, that doubled as a music venue.  My friends and I would all pile into one car, park in a scary abandoned lot and run for our lives down the street to the safety of the coffee shop.

But now things have changed.  The old tobacco factories have been restored and turned into apartments, offices, research labs, restaurants and even a prestigious medical school has moved in.

I even managed to get a job working in this area.

A former sketchy area is now the cool new spot to be downtown.

That obscure coffee shop is now a popular place that also serves food, and is no longer a music venue.

I like to wander around and admire the changes.  I thought this would be the perfect place to use up a precious roll of expiring Land Camera film.

  An homage to the old days.

These photos were taken with one of my vintage Polaroid Land Cameras.

See my Polaroid Land Camera guide Here!

 

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They Tore Down a School to Build an Interstate

A giant pile of rubble was a surprising sight to see one day while driving downtown. A little school was in the process of being torn down, for what I later read, was to make room for the rebuilding of an interstate and the roads surrounding it.
Business 40 interstate which runs through downtown has been a disaster since it was built in the 50s, with narrow lanes and tiny on ramps. This year it is finally getting shut down to be rebuilt into something actually functional.
This sad little school just happened to be in the way of the new interstate improvements.

These next few years will be interesting for downtown’s landscape.

Nights in Neon

A frigid late November night in Detroit Michigan. We rode the People Mover around and around, taking in the city sights as the sun set.
Hungry for food, we stepped off the train car at the Greektown exit and headed toward the faint glow of pink and blue.
Bright neon lights in the cold winter night, led us down the winding concrete stairs to the loud festive streets of Greektown.
The lights illuminated the walkway, some flickered and gave off a low hum of electricity. It felt a little like being in an alternate universe.

Another corner of Detroit, overflowing with character.

We sat in a Greek restaurant, devouring delicious food and reminiscing on the fun we had that day, wandering our homeland.

What We Saw From a Detroit Train Car


Venturing to downtown Detroit for the first time. None of us were sure what to expect, or what exactly we were going to do.
Around and around we drove, everywhere was full, rush hour was just starting. Finally, a parking space appeared, on some side street many blocks from the center of downtown. 

Surrounded by the shadows of tall buildings all around us, I checked the map to see what was nearby. There was a stop for something called the People Mover, a sort of above ground subway; It sounded intriguing so we headed towards it. 

We found the entrance in the bottom of some old building, nobody was around and it looked a bit run down. We debated for a moment if we should just keep walking, but decided to go for it. 

Our change was traded for tokens. 75 cents to ride the train as long as you wanted.

We passed through the gate of the grimy little station and climbed the stairs to wait for the train. We stood in the cold until the little train car came, and we were soon to be amazed by the sights of downtown Detroit.


I didn’t realize how big Detroit was, I was quite impressed by the sea of skyscrapers in the city I was born in. I found myself loving Detroit more and more.


















We rode the People Mover to the Renaissance center and wandered around a bit on the water front. It was freezing cold so we decided the best way to see the most of the city without freezing to death was to hop back on the little train and ride it around and around.

The Detroit People Mover Travels in a loop around downtown with 13 stations. It operates above ground which is a great way to get a tour of the city as you explore different areas of downtown.

The People Mover was built in the 80s with very high expectations, but due to Detroit’s Decline, it never got as much use as was originally hoped.  Fortunately things seem to be looking up for Detroit in recent years so I am looking forward to seeing how this city grows!

Detroit At Last


I was born in Detroit Michigan.  Even though we moved away when I was young, it has always felt like my home. 


It has always felt strange to be from a city that I rarely get to visit. I’ve lived in my current town for so long, but it just doesn’t have the same feeling. It doesn’t feel like my “real home”.

Maybe it’s because every single one of my ancestors is from this city. I’m even a direct descendant of some of the families that founded Detroit. I’ve just always felt like I belonged in Detroit.

I was overjoyed to finally return this Thanksgiving, to visit family members, and to explore the place I came from. 


The few times I have been back never included a venture downtown, but I had always wanted to go.  I love cities, but I didn’t even know what the city I was born in really looked like and it drove me crazy. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but as we made our way to the center of the city I was born in, I loved it instantly. 


It wasn’t the run down, decrepit, broken, abandoned city that I had always heard it was. 

The ornate skyscrapers towered over busy streets. The sun was setting and people were just getting off of work and rushing home. The city seemed full of life and overflowing with energy. 


There were all kind of restaurants, and shops that filled the bottom floors of the buildings, there was a tram car that ran down a busy street, an above ground subway train, there was even city stream rising up out of the streets! 


At some moments, I felt like I was back in New York City!














Downtown Detroit exceeded anything I had expected. It is a city with so much character, so much history with everything it has been through over the years and so much to see.

There are definitely still poverty stricken parts of this city, but that doesn’t mean it is a place to be avoided. It’s a place that needs attention, and that will hopefully one day have the same opportunities as it once did. 

I’m afraid I’m going to be thinking about this city, ever more than I was before..

Long Branch Trail


The trail I watched being built all last summer from my office window is nearly complete. 

My blog post Forgotten Corners shows what it looked like when construction first began. What used to be an overgrown meadow over a once busy industrial area, is now a nicely landscaped greenway.




The old Railroad track that ran though this area providing coal to the factories has been preserved. 





On the other side of the path lies the current train track where freight trains travel back and fourth all day.



There was hardly another soul in sight on this new path, since it is not quite finished, and maybe not too many have heard about it yet. But I’m sure it won’t be long until it is packed with people. But I prefer how it is now, in it’s empty state. 






I’m happy to see this plot of land being put to good use, and that some of the old elements of what it once was got to stick around.


And they kept the cobblestone!

Houston Downtown

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A few more photos from our drive around Downtown Houston.

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I found the sight of palm trees among all the skyscrapers quite amusing. All the big cities I have visited so far have been in the north. I found myself having a strange desire to go to California..

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Houston seemed different than other cities I have been to. It was clean and shiny, and on this particular day, quite quiet. It was definitely a contrast to the grimy bustling feel that New York or Pittsburgh had.