Friday, April 21, 2017

Birthday Wishes and Detroit Tour, Part II

Before I begin sharing the final sights of our Detroit tour I want to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II who is celebrating her 91st birthday today.  She will spend today low-key and privately at Windsor Castle.  Royal gun salutes will mark the day later today.  The "official" celebratory birthday will take place on June 17th.  The AP photo below was taken on April 16th, Easter Sunday.   Raising my teacup in tribute to an incredible, amazing lady.  May she celebrate many more birthdays!  And it's National Tea Day in the UK - how perfect for the British to celebrate their Queen!

[Internet Photo]

Now back to Detroit...  Pour yourself a cup of tea as I conclude our tour of Detroit.  We passed by Lafayette Coney Island and its next-door neighbor and archrival, American Coney Island, established in 1917.  They are the originators of the Coney Island Dog, and are two of the oldest businesses in downtown Detroit.  American Coney was founded by Constantine "Gust" Keros, 13 years after he immigrated from Greece in 1903.  His brother, William, opened Lafayette Coney Island next door.  We didn't stop for a coney dog yesterday, but Jerry and I have had them before, and they are very good [coming from someone who doesn't normally eat hot dogs!].

Below is "The Belt" - a newly redeveloped cultural public alley connecting Grand River and Gratiot. Its name refers to its location in downtown's former garment district.  Artist's murals have been painted on the exterior walls of buildings and it's a trendy place to visit .

Below are abandoned homes in Detroit's Brush Park - an area that was once made up of 350 homes of Detroit's elite society.  In my post of 4/17 I showed the 1876 Ransom Gillis house that Nicole Curtis, HGTV Rehab Addict restored in 2015.  Many of the homes have been torn down, but the ones remaining are being purchased and restored. The house and property in the first photo below sold for $315,000 and the photo beneath it sold for $259,000 - seriously!  A project is underway in the Brush Park area called "City Modern" where low and mid-rise homes will be built around the old restored homes.  It's wonderful to see Detroit coming back to life again.

Next we went to Shinola, an upscale store selling watches, bicycles, and leather goods, located in a former warehouse.  Shinola was launched in 2011 by Fossil Watch founder, Tom Kartsotis. The company is named after a now-defunct, popular American shoe polish. The store, which opened in June 2013,  is located on Canfield St. in Mid-town Detroit.

From Shinola, we took a mini break at Avalon International Breads, on Willis St. in Detroit's Cass Corridor.  It was founded in 1997 by two women.

Oh the delicious goodies inside this place, and NO I didn't stick to my plant-based diet.  I got one of their sea salt chocolate chip cookies at Pat's recommendation.

I photographed some other goodies I thought you'd enjoy seeing and drooling over. As you'll notice, I only photographed food items particularly associated with tea, but there were many other baked goods and breads.  Now that I think about it, everything goes good with tea!

They had a selection of Adagio teas, but since I was on a tour of the city I didn't want to risk having to ask Pat to make a restroom stop, so I refrained from a cup of tea [even though she would have willingly accommodated].

When Pat discovered I was a tea enthusiast, she took us by Socra Tea, a Tea House and Gallery, located in the lower level of the building behind me.  It's name is a nod to the ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates.  It opened in 2012, and is Detroit's only dedicated tea shop at the present time, selling over 50 organic gourmet loose teas.  It is located on Garfield Street near Wayne State University School of Medicine.

I popped inside for a quick photo-shoot while the others in our group waited outside in the van. Thanks, Pat, for letting me see the shop I had heard about, but never visited.

From there we moved on to Eastern Market.  I didn't take any pictures there except for one wall mural.  I've been to Eastern Market many times and have blogged about it a few times. I purchase brown sugar cubes for tea there [even though I don't usually sweeten tea myself]. 

Next up was CAN Art Handiwork on Wilkins Street near Eastern Market.  Pat took us to unique places that as a suburbanite, I never knew existed.

Metalwork embellishment along the fence line of the CAN Art Handiworks facility or "compound."

Behind the fence and gate pictured below, are the metalworks of Carl Nielbock that span his 30 years in Detroit.  His father was a African-American, Detroit-native and WWII soldier, and his mother a German citizen.  Mr.  Nielbock was born in Celle, Germany.  His father was transferred out of Europe and away from his mother when he was a child.  Wondering about his father's side of the family, he came to Detroit when he was 23 and never returned to Germany.  

He's restored ornamental metal architectural details in private homes in Indian Village and Boston Edison, and well-known public places such as the Fox Theater where he restored the canopy and intricate details of the facade and interior chandeliers.  His current project is reproducing the clock tower that sat on top of the ornate Old City Hall [demolished in 1961]. He hopes to install it near the original site across from Campus Martius.

And speaking of the Fox Theater, said to be one of Detroit's Crown Jewels...  I've blogged about performances I've attended there before, but this was a quick photo I took yesterday. The theater, located on Woodward Avenue, was built in the late 1920's, and was fully restored in 1988 when Mike and Marian Ilitch purchased it at a cost of $12 million.

Next we drove to the Heidelberg Project, a place I've heard and read about, but never seen. We drove down Arndt Street that was once home to a thriving German community.  Trees lining the street have garments hanging from them to reflect and honor the people who once wore them.

The Heidelberg Project began in 1986 by African-American Tyree Guyton and his grandfather as a labor of love and act of defiant resistance to the crumbling east side neighborhood.  Saddened that the street he grew up on had become riddled with drugs and deep poverty, and the loss of three brothers to the streets, his grandfather encouraged him to pick up a paint brush instead of a weapon and look for a solution. Gradually he began turning vacant lots and the refuse collected into a massive art project. It is said to be Detroit's best-known outdoor art project, as well as one of its most controversial. Heidelberg Street is the centerpiece of the project. The abandoned and uninhabitable houses were painted funky colors with polka dots and other designs, and were turned into large art sculptures.  Several of his houses have been destroyed by arsonists, however, while other parts of the project have been demolished by orders of mayoral administrations. 

Paintings of clocks are a predominant sight because Mr. Guyton believes time is the most precious thing, and it passes so quickly.  [Amen to that!]  He was out working on his project when we drove by.  He declined having his picture taken when asked by the lady who was on the tour with us.  I have enlarged the photos below for better viewing.

Can you see the nine different clocks in the photo below?

Pat said he only intends to keep the project ongoing for a couple more years, then he will dismantle it so he has time to pursue other projects.

From the Heidelberg Project we went to Indian Village - one of Detroit's most exquisite and affluent historic neighborhoods.  It contains 350 stately homes on three streets [Burns, Iroquois, and Seminole - named for racehorses, not Indians, because the land was once a racetrack], built from the 1890's to the 1920's by some of the city's most esteemed architects. It became a historic district in the 1960's. 

~ Below is the largest house in Indian Village. ~

Below was the home of Mary Chase Perry Stratton, founder of Pewabic Pottery.

We drove past the first home of Edsel and Eleanor Ford, known as their "Honeymoon Cottage", but I didn't get a photo of it.  I couldn't resist taking the picture below of the "Little Free Library" inside a gutted grandfather clock, sitting near the sidewalk.  At first glance I thought it was being used as a mailbox.  People can take books to read from inside the clock, as well as deposit books.  Isn't that a great idea for neighborhood communities!

Pat pointed out other homes of well-known Detroit people, but I only took the photos above. I would love to go back there again when we have more time - perhaps during the village's home and garden tour this June.

Our last sight to see was Detroit's Belle Isle, a 982 acre island in the Detroit River, with seven miles of shoreline.  It's the city's second largest park [which is now run by the state], and the nation's largest public island park.  It was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed New York City's Central Park. 

I didn't take any pictures inside the park but it contains a conservatory, aquarium, casino [a building that resembles an Italian villa, not a gambling facility], a marble fountain, pavilion, beach area, and much more.  The had already begun setting up bleachers for the Grand Prix auto race coming up on June 2-4.

We saw several other sights in passing such as Greektown, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Public Library, Detroit Athletic Club, Orchestra Hall where the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performs, Detroit Opera House, Comerica Park where the Detroit Tigers play baseball, Du Mouchelle's Art Gallery, the Inn on Ferry Street, the new arenas where the Detroit Red Wings [hockey team], and Detroit Pistons [basketball team] will play when the construction is completed, and other sights I'm sure I'm forgetting.

Pat packed a lot in our tour, but we barely skimmed the surface of everything there is to see in a two-hour tour. I highly recommend Show Me Detroit tours. Pat is very friendly, accommodating, and knowledgeable, having lived and worked in Detroit her whole life.  The $59 per person [senior rate] was worth every penny!

Below is the last photo taken when we returned to Rivard Plaza.  It was a very fun and educating morning.  I hope you enjoyed touring the City of Detroit with me.  I know this was a lengthy post but I didn't want to carry it over into next week.


  1. It looks like a fascinating tour - and the neighborhood art installations are intriguing.

  2. I enjoyed the tour, Phyllis! It brought back a few memories when I was little and remember when we went to Detroit to visit a aunt of mine. Thanks for sharing! Also any new news about the Southern Tea tour?


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