No video can portray the passion one finds on the streets of Detroit these days, where everyone from the doorman to the D.J. will tell you they believe in this city’s future. — Jennifer Conlin, “36 Hours in Detroit,” New York Times, May 5, 2011.
The New York Times highlighted Detroit in its Travel section on Thursday. The reporter, Jennifer Conlin, must have had a terrific guide (or strong local ties) if she made it to Cafe D’Mongo; Hirt’s & Russell Street in Eastern Market; the Piquette plant; or Cliff Bell’s. She gushes about the “breathtakingly renovated Detroit Opera House,” and how “entering Cliff Bell’s is like walking onto the set of a Fred Astaire film.”
I was beaming by the end of the profile. It’s amazing how many of the attractions featured — D’Mongo, Good Girls, MOCAD, the restored Book Cadillac — did not even exist a few years ago (not to mention Hostel Detroit which debuted only a month ago and already is one of the three lodgings listed!)
The Times travel section has always seemed to treat Detroit generously — perhaps New Yorkers, accustomed as they are to enjoying the wealthiest and most amenity-rich metropolis in the western hemisphere, don’t feel the need to kick the city when it’s down the way the rest of the country and the mainstream media do.
Also interesting is how Conlin confined her itinerary to the relatively compact area near downtown (plus Pewabic Pottery, which is a bit further to the east up Jefferson). While she didn’t say so explicitly, she seems to have tailored her 36 hours so that visitors don’t need a car. It was an interesting choice, and a reminder for locals of the increasingly rich array of options you can enjoy in the greater downtown area without necessarily having to hop in your car. It’s also something suburban leaders, especially those in Oakland County, should take note of — I have yet to see an article in the Times‘ travel section mentioning, say, Birmingham or Royal Oak. Despite all the attractions of these suburbs, the national focus stays glued to Detroit proper.