Thursday, April 21, 2011

Detroit Sightseeing along Woodward: GM, Tigers, DIA, Fox

I already posted about the Fisher Building.  This first picture, of the old General Motors Building (on the left), was taken from the Fisher Building.  On the horizon to the right of center you can see the new General Motors Building at the Renaissance Center.  It looks like:  ▟▖.  You'll see it close up at the bottom - but it will look completely different.

Then we drove a short distance to Woodward Avenue.
"I guess if I had to take somebody who had never seen Detroit, I'd start at the river and drive straight up Woodward. I can't think of a more expedient way to show the city," said Jerry Herron, historian and director of the honors program at Wayne State University.
Woodward offers work, play, most of our cultural institutions. It's the dividing line that distinguishes "east siders" from their west side counterparts and offers motorists a comforting geographical context. "Where are we? Oh, right, there's Woodward."    [From The Detroit News]
Our guide said, at one point, that he wanted to show us the parts of Detroit that would counter our stereotypes.  This section of Woodward was, he said, a gap that was rapidly filling back in.  And from the freeway we could see boarded up houses.  But on this tour, had I not heard anything about Detroit's housing woes, I would not have known anything was amiss. 

Our first stop on Woodward (5200) was at the DIA (Detroit Art Institute).  I posted on the DIA's Rivera courtyard murals in a previous post.  But there was much more.  I feel dumb because I didn't get the information on this Native American bead work.  I think it was from Kansas.  I got distracted because there were three cultures listed - Okvik culture, Punuk Culture, and Thule culture - in Alaska that I'd never heard of.  It turns out the most recent of them is listed as ending in 1200. 

Modigliana's long necked people have always intrigued me.

                              A Mastisse Poppy.

This is part of Fumio Yoshimura's wooden motorcycle.

Another piece whose description I didn't get.  It was in the Middle East section.

DIA underground parking

Then to the home of the Detroit Tigers (2100 Woodward)

Comerica Park 
Home of the Detroit Tigers
In October 1997, ground was broken on a brand new $300 million project to be known as Comerica Park. 

This amazing, and very modern, facility features a carousel, a Ferris Wheel and a mammoth water feature in center field. Liquid Fireworks, as the water feature is known, is a giant spectacular that synchronizes music to spraying water fountains. Over 60 percent of the projects funding came from private financing while the remaining funds were donated from public sources. Mitch Ilitch, owner of the Detroit Tigers, had a big hand in the design of Comerica Park. And why not? After all, this is the home turf of Major League Baseball's Detroit Tigers.

Fox Theater is at 2211 Woodward, just across the street from Comerica Field.
The Theater, an awe-inspiring combination of Far Eastern, Indian and Egyptian styles, was the second largest Theater in the world. But it surpassed all others in grandeur.

The lobby of this mammoth 10-story structure, which was six stories high and half a block long, was surrounded by blood-red marble columns. Each column held its own jeweled figure representing various Asiatic Gods.
The decorative scheme used subdued tones of gold to contrast a riot of color. Hangings in the lobby were in golden damask and stage draperies combined regal-red velour and damask which were set off by a festooned drapery with a wide silken fringe.
Guests were greeted by notes from a small Moller organ situated over the entrance. . .

Detroit's Fox theater changed hands several times before Mike and Marion Ilitch of Little Caesar's Pizza closed a deal in 1987 for the purchase of the theater and connecting office building. A multi-million dollar restoration project, which included a new 10-story marquee, culminated in a grand reopening Nov. 19, 1988, when the curtain once again rose at the theater known as the "Temple of Amusement." [Detroit News]

We passed some  buildings - fortunately there was a sun roof on the car.

And finally, at the end of Woodward  on the river, we were shown new General Motors home away from home.

Rising 73 stories above the Detroit River, the GM Renaissance Center dominates the glittering downtown Detroit skyline.  The Ren Cen is five and a half million square feet in size, has seven towers, dozens of stores and services, four movie theaters, a financial center, two foreign consulates, a fitness center, a 1,300 room Marriott hotel, four of the city’s hottest restaurants and an 1,100 seat food court.

The Ren Cen is about business too. It’s General Motors’ global headquarters with 5,000 GM employees, as well as over 4,000 additional people who work in the Ren Cen for tenant companies, retailers, restaurants and professional service organizations. 
[From the RenCen website]

I learned a lot in the tour.  Thanks, MC.

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