This is an excerpt of a column I wrote on July 14 for Dome Magazine.
Take a long walk, or a street car ride, along the vaunted section of Woodward Avenue known as Detroit’s downtown/Midtown renaissance area and you will be dismayed – perhaps even stunned – by what truly lies within this section of resurrection.
During a recent visit when I served as tour guide for an out-of-town couple, I found myself in a central core of the rebounding city that amounted to a twilight zone, an expensive playground for suburban whites. The Woodward corridor has become a strange mix of chic shopping normally found in Birmingham or the Bloomfields and pubs/restaurants that duplicate the beer-specialty hangouts in Royal Oak and Ferndale.
The gushing tributes by newspaper commentators about the Detroit core’s comeback leave aside one overwhelming fact – this is not Motown, this is hipster headquarters. Long beards, man-buns, thick-framed glasses and purple hair serve as common sights in this part of town.
All along our path northward from a starting point at Campus Martius, with its over-sized sandbox, an elaborate shopping mall-style water fountain, and Oakland County-inspired outdoor cafes, we found a far-from-diverse crowd that certainly offered a distinct disconnect from the decaying neighborhoods and shops within a reasonable walking distance from Woodward.
Everything seemed designed for young white people – in a city that is 90 percent minority occupied – or for the region’s upper middle class, of all ethnicities, who were visiting a town that distinguishes itself as the nation’s poorest major city.
Prices along this yellow brick road match the most outrageous mark-ups seen in upscale boutiques in suburbia or at Troy’s chic Somerset Mall.
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