I love Detroit. I consistently get asked why. My answer usually tries to convey the beauty and resilience of a city that has undergone devastating change, but really, I should just tell people to go. It’s something that truly has to be experienced to be understood. And I guarantee you will either love it like I do, or hate it like so many others.
I just recently spent 2 nights there. I stay at the Hostel Detroit when I go. It’s the cutest hostel that is a non-profit trying to educate people on the awesomeness of the city. It makes me happy and gives me a sense of adventure.
Being welcomed by name and having kitschy sheets to sleep on makes me smile and waking up in a typical Detroit neighbourhood makes you feel less like a tourist and more like a part of the true city.
Don’t get me wrong, Detroit and it’s economic situation are not to be taken lightly. There are constant reminders of the hardship the city and it’s residents have experienced. Abandoned homes and historic buildings stand like wounded soldiers on every block, but they are hauntingly beautiful and are a quiet reminder of the fragile landscape that we have created in the industrialized world.
I woke up early the first morning I was there to take some photos before the dew had lifted and while the sun was still low in the sky to try and show people a different side of Detroit. That the sun rises there as it does everywhere else. That people get up and go to work and kids head off to school. It’s functioning under intense pressure. The people who have stayed love their city. They are proud of it’s history and are sure that it will one day recover. They are committed to making that happen. You have to see beyond the graffiti and boarded up windows. It’s not an easy task I know. But it’s there. They want the rest of the world to see it too.
I feel like maybe I am biased though. Detroit reminds me of myself and my struggles. Overlooked and under appreciated. Judged by many and loved by few. But those who know her feel her intensity and never forget her. I look forward to my next visit. She never disappoints.