January 2011: I am preparing for my first real visit to Detroit, the city of my birth. I am a Californian, where I have been since age one when my parents packed me into a car to seek fame and fortune in LA. It is strange to be defined by something unknown but when asked if I am a "native" Californian, I answer, "No, I was born in Detroit." It seems time to investigate what that means. So I have come "home" on my birthday to photograph Detroit.
This blog is part of an accompanying journal about the project.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
First Real Day
Rainy not snowing, today was about Midtown primarily. Meeting with several here working through their business ventures - a real estate brokerage, an indie bookstore and several stores to supply newer AND older residents, with the supplies, housing and hopefully neighborhoods they need.
Especially at this time of year, the streets are not crowded. In fact, while there are many comparisons one can make between the city of my birth, Detroit, and the city of my home, Los Angeles, cars and urban sprawl among them, what distinguishes Detroit for me is the lack of traffic, automotive and foot.
A beautiful city, filled with noted architecture in business and homes and with noted history both pre-industrial and post, but without the appearance of many people. That said, my conversations today show what one doesn't see from the street, from "outside," is more and more being strengthened from within.
With each conversation, I am pointed in another direction, revealing to me that the landmarks of this city as I explore it are not just my own, but that each person has their own definition of what is exciting and worth seeing in Detroit, a possible direction as I work to find my own focus.
A few quick pics from today, including below the historic Annis Furs/LB King building in downtown Detroit where my father worked as Advertising Director for the Annis Fur Company in the 1940s, the reason he was in Detroit. The fur trade, so I've learned is one of the major reasons for Detroit itself.
The upper photo is a northern view of Detroit downtown, a landscape across the fields of vacant land. Among the various proposals for Detroit and in fact now growing (obviously not in the winter... ): urban farming. The land is there and, in the spring and summer, one can see how this can change a city.