Whether it’s the ever-looming Michigan Central Station or the Hotel Yorba sign made famous by The White Stripes, the location of some of the most iconic images of Detroit, Michigan can be found on the city’s vast Westside. With wide-laned roads like Grand River and Michigan Avenue acting like veins, hundreds of different cultural backgrounds blend together and result in a vibrant landscape of local color. Look no further than Julia Reyes Taubman’s book Detroit: 138 Squares Miles, as a defining document of the rich history of the Westside.
With its impressive outer walls that looked more like a skateboarding ramp than something designed by an architect, the Amelia Earhart Middle School once rested in the heart of Mexicantown. Nestled across the street from beautiful Clark Park, the building opened in 1964 and was unfortunately demolished in 2010. However, before its deconstruction, Julia Reyes Taubman captured the immense, sloping concrete walls of this awe-inspiring building in photograph form forever.
While Detroit remains a major, metropolitan city, it doesn’t take long to find a little bit of the country inside the inner-city. Witness Exhibit A, the Buffalo Soldiers Heritage Center located at River Rouge Park. Celebrating the rich history of an all African-American military regiment, the center offers not only a historical look at this important piece of American history, but also horse riding lessons as part of this culturally enriching experience.
The 2100 Block of Michigan Avenue is one of the most written about and visited areas in the recent history of Detroit. Featuring the lauded Slows Bar-B-Q and the city’s preeminent home seller in O’Connner Real Estate, the block is a perfect example of how the city is rebounding in the face of adversity. Yet, it still retains character with smaller businesses like the down and dirty dive bar, LJ’s Lounge, and the fantastic, brand new coffee house, Astro Coffee.
While the term “modern day relic” may be a bit of an oxymoron, it would only be proper to assess such a title to the Ford-Wyoming Drive-In. Found on the outskirts of Detroit and Dearborn, the Ford-Wyoming theater opened in 1950 and is one of the only traditional drive-ins left in the Metro-Detroit area. The site features five active movie screens, a playground that screams “tetanus shot” and an incredible lighted sign that beckons passersby into the lots entrance. With the nearly impossible-to-beat two movies for the price of one, the drive-in is one of the most underrated attractions in town.