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I express myself best visually. When I’m walking around Ann Arbor or traveling to somewhere new, I’m constantly on the lookout for beautiful things to photograph. I’m horrible at keeping a journal, but my iPhoto and instagram account are filled with hundreds of photographs from the past few years. And my experience in Detroit was no different: I documented my Spring 2014 semester through film, a camera and my iPhone, each picture telling a story.
The view out the window at Cass Corridor Community Commons was bright but cold when I woke up on Saturday during Immersion Weekend, in a room with strangers who would later become friends. We spent a morning running around Eastern Market, where we bought spices and ingredients to bake a complicated dessert. And in the afternoon, we drove through Corktown to volunteer at Urban Neighborhood Initiatives, a fantastic non-profit in Southwest Detroit.
The skies were really, really blue during my first few days in Detroit, when we bussed all over the city, passing through a parade in Mexicantown and stopping to climb on rocks by the Detroit River. Detroit is a place of stark juxtaposition, and although it is now familiar, it’s still jarring: empty fields that once housed baseball stadiums sit in the shadow of Art Deco skyscrapers, and more recently, teachers stage sickouts to protest poor school conditions while it seems like a new restaurant opens up every week downtown.
The First Unitarian Church of Detroit burned down during the first week of classes. As I passed it on a bike ride to Eastern Market, I stopped in my tracks.
There are few things I love more than a sunlit coffee shop. This was my first morning at Astro, which has since become a favorite: I stopped in with some friends before we went to a massive garage sale in Corktown on a beautiful and bright Saturday morning. Astro’s chalkboard art is constantly changing, so each visit brings a new surprise.
We stopped by the Packard Plant on a bus tour midway through the semester. It’s funny how in a city once known for industry, the automobile plants are now abandoned and infiltrated by lime green trees.
Belle Isle in the evening, with ducks and a sunset, is still one of my favorite places to be.
On my way back from a mid-week trip to Clark Park, I drove into a beautiful, black and white summer thunderstorm.
Eastern Market, you look good on my disposable camera. It really is the greatest place to spend a Saturday morning in the summertime.
American and Lafayette Coney Islands are the true Detroit rivalry. Lafayette, on the right, is a necessity - and it’s always a smidge better than American, in my book.
Eastern Market Antiques is a funky little shop with everything from old dressers to flapper-era furs and a rack of Converse shoes from various decades. Actually, it’s enormous, spanning several floors absolutely crammed with gems. You could spend hours here and still have more to sift through.
The food pictures never really end when it comes to Detroit. Alley Taco is a gem hidden in the back of Marcus Market, on 2nd Avenue in the Cass Corridor, with some truly incredible quesadillas that I discovered on the first day of my internship with WDET.
On my third day in Detroit, I bought a pink bike for $20 from Salvation Army. On my fourth day, I biked downtown alone, relishing my newfound freedom to explore a new city, alone. There are parts of the city I love more than downtown but few that have as much stunning architecture.