Friday, February 03, 2006
I swear, it's not usually like this...
We drove downtown last night. It was pretty amazing; Detroit has, for a few days at least, transformed into something amazing.
As we took Woodward into the city, at first we couldn't figure out what was so different, eventually we realized that, leading into the city, two major changes had taken place. The trash was cleaned up, and the streetlights were working. That alone made a huge difference.
Once we were actually downtown, we saw some other amazing things. Dark alleys that everyone knows better than to walk through were now protected by the rule of "safety in numbers". There were people everywhere.
The city was all lit up with spotlights and projections and video screens. I didn't even know some of these streets had electricity.
New bars and businesses had popped up everywhere. I know they'll pack up right after Sunday, but it was cool to see them. One particular bar I've posted on before appeared to be thriving in the middle of all this excitement as well.
And the cabs! There were cabs everywhere! We're talking nice new yellow Checker cabs, not the occasional rattling rusty deathtraps that occasionally appear in Detroit. Detroit has very few cabs, and they are hard to find. I'm sure they borrowed these cabs from somewhere else for the week, but they were a welcome sight.
One particular theater on Woodward that has been vacant for as long as I remember had concerts on the marquee. I wonder if LL Cool J knows what a dump the place he's playing in used to be, and will be again by next week?
People were arriving in limos to wait in line for parties that cost $500-$2,000 at the door. Not my scene, and it was pretty funny to know that these people were going to be whooping it up in a building that usually houses the homeless.
All in all, it's pretty amazing. And while I hate being cynical, it hurts to know that, after Sunday when everyone leaves town again, it will probably go back to being an urban wasteland. Still, it was something to see Detroit become a thriving city again, even for just a little while.
One more massive test remains. We're supposed to get two inches of snow on Saturday night. In the past, this has had the ability to cripple Detroit; they have a limited fleet of snow plows (a former mayor sold them off and didn't tell anyone until the next time they were needed), and have a very poor record of cleaning up the streets after a snowstorm. I have a feeling that, if the snow hits, the suburbs may choose to suffer for a day and send their plows into the city, but this remains to be seen. Mayor Kwame hasn't done too much to endear himself with the cities surrounding Detroit.