Detroit is a fascinating place. Driving around, you see many abandoned homes and industrial buildings. Former parking lots are grown over with grass and small trees. A large part of the population has moved away. And yet, we really liked it here. It seems like the dismal state of the city provides many opportunities to rebuild it in a new way.
One example: We stayed with a young teacher and his wife who bought an old, foreclosed house to fix it up. The neighbours next door are doing the same. Our host told us that the best abandoned homes are already sold and that prices are starting to pick up again.
Another example: the Heidelberg Project. We went to see this community art project, not really sure what to expect. Once we turned onto Heidelberg Street (Germans used to live in that neighbourhood), we were amazed: Artists have painted the houses and the street, they have put up art installations and paintings everywhere. The whole place is colourful, inviting and fun to walk through.
Little anecdote: We met a reporter from a Canadian TV station who was doing a story on the Heidelberg Project for the station’s news program. She interviewed us because she wanted to talk to some “tourists”. So we’ll be on Canadian TV soon!
The Heidelberg Project has been around for 26 years. Since then, it has done a lot for the neighbourhood, its community and probably for all of Detroit, as the project’s executive director told us. It is one of the main cultural tourist attractions in the city, she said.
You can find our pictures on flickr.
And here’s an interview with the project’s executive director: