Staff Picks – Daily Detroit What To Know And Where To Go In Metro Detroit Wed, 17 Oct 2018 14:13:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Our Top 10 Reader Favorite Posts Of 2016 Fri, 30 Dec 2016 17:26:15 +0000 What is the end of the year without top ten lists? We love writing lists. And it seems you love reading them.

Spoiler alert: Three of our top ten posts of the year were lists, and speak to the fun nature of how Daily Detroit was founded — in the back of a bar, with the first version being built over a few $1 beer nights at Nancy Whiskey.

Our entire team (most are taking a break until next week) wants to extend a giant thank you for 2016. Of course, thank you to all who attended our Daily Detroit drinks event as well and our hundreds of reader members who have made possible the improvements we’ve been able to make and will make in 2017.

This has been, and will continue to be, a journey we never expected but are very thankful for.

Now without further ado, on to our list of top ten most visited posts for 2016.

10. A Block Away, But A World Apart: Detroit And Grosse Pointe Schools Have Largest Poverty Divide In Nation

One of the big themes for this year was education, or the lack of quality education in Detroit.

Our number ten post highlights the disparity between the boarder of Grosse Pointe and Detroit in regards to the property values and school budgets.

9. 19 Awesome Detroit Dive Bars You’re Going To Want To Visit

I don’t know if you knew this or not, but we like to drink at Daily Detroit. We’re, on balance, are huge fans of dive bars. Our number nine post goes to show that you guys like dive bars too.

So what is your favorite dive bar? I have a fondness for My Dad’s. It’s close to my old east side stomping grounds and it feels like home.

8. After 60 Years, Detroit Has A Streetcar Again (PICS, VIDEO)

Transit was another topic that we covered a lot this year between Regional Transit and the Q-Line/M1 Rail. We love writing about public transit and it seems that you like reading about it.

Our number eight post shows off the arrival of one of the new streetcars that will be going up and down Woodward.

7. Ford Announces Job Training Program For People With Autism

Our number seven post features a story about Ford working with Autism Alliance of Michigan to develop a training program for those on the spectrum.

6. Abandoned Dog Tied Up With Bungee Cords Rescued By Children In Detroit

What seems like a really sad story about an abandoned dog, turned out to have a happy ending in our top six post. The four boys who found her abandoned dog named her Sparkle, and she was taken in by Detroit Pit Crew Dog Rescue.

There’s a happy ending to this story, as we found out following up on what happened to the dog for this list. She was transferred to Pet Tales Rescue in Grand Rapids and she was adopted through their organization into a good home.

5. What Everyone’s Missing About Detroit’s Teacher Situation: I’ve Already Earned That Money

We’ve reached the midway point. Here we are at our number five post.

We published a guest post by a Detroit public school teacher, after it was announced that there was not going to be funding to pay DPS teachers through the summer. It was an especially tense time for teachers.

BTW — If you have something you’d like to share on our site, send us a note for consideration.

4. More Than 100 Michigan Schools To Be Closed Based On Test Scores They Were Told Wouldn’t Count

This post goes in depth about of the 100 Michigan schools that could have been facing closure at the end of this school year. Things have shifted a little bit since this post, but still many schools are facing tall challenges.

3. 7 Places Around Detroit With Mob Stories

Who doesn’t like a good mob story? Our number three post was all about some of the places around Detroit that had mob activity.

While some of the places are no longer around, you could always visit The Book Cadillac, Belle Isle, and the Leland Hotel.

2. Being A Regular At A Neighborhood Bar Makes You Happier, Says Study

Our number two post is about a study that says that finding your very own Cheers will help you be happier. I know I’m pretty happy when I am able to get out to my favorite neighborhood bar.

1. 25 Fun Things To Do In Detroit This Summer That Are $5 Or Less

We’ve made it to our number one post of 2016! We loved making this list of 25 fun things to do in Detroit during the summer.

There are still plenty things on that list that you can do right now even though it is winter. I do kind of miss the summer though. Run to the Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle if you ever need to warm your bones for an hour and pretend you’re in Florida without the airfare.

Thanks again and Happy New Year!

Spain Elementary, Once A Symbol Of Detroit’s Troubles, Gets A Chance To Show Off Wed, 28 Sep 2016 02:25:05 +0000

Three weeks into the school year at Spain Elementary-Middle School, the teachers are starting to get used to their new classes. Students are starting to get back into the swing of things.

And now it’s time for something unexpected: A PR blitz.

The school in Detroit’s midtown neighborhood last year became a symbol of everything that was wrong with Detroit Public Schools.

Photos of its dangerously buckling gym floors ricocheted around the world when teachers throughout the district started calling in sick to protest deteriorating conditions, freezing classrooms and filthy bathrooms.

Major news outlets like CNN came to document Spain’s shuttered gym, its unsafe playground, and its musty smells. And when Mayor Mike Duggan took a tour, he spotted a dead mouse on the floor.

But that wasn’t the worst of it.

Just as the school started getting some good news, just as it got a shoutout from comedian Ellen DeGeneres, who partnered with Lowe’s to lavish the school with $500,000 to repair the leaky roof and damaged floors in the gym, the school’s beloved and dynamic principal, Ronald Alexander, was hit with bribery charges.

He was among 12 Detroit Public Schools principals charged with taking bribes from a corrupt school supply vendor. He was ordered this month to spend a year in prison after pleading guilty to pocketing $23,000 in bribes.

It was devastating for everyone, said fifth-grader Antonio Overstreet, 11.

“I thought the school was going to close because we didn’t have a principal.”

Inside the gym of Spain elementary. Photo: Erin Einhorn
Inside the gym of Spain elementary. Photo: Erin Einhorn

But now, it’s a new year.

It’s also a new district. The Detroit Public Schools Community District was created by state lawmakers over the summer to give Detroit schools a chance to recover without the burden of paying off years of crippling debt.

And in some ways, Spain is a new school, transformed by a $1.2 million renovation, partly funded by The “Ellen DeGeneres Show” and Lowe’s.

“It was a bad year last year and not just for Spain. It was a bad year for the district,” said the school’s new principal, Frederick Cannon. “But this is a new year.”

That’s why, on Monday, Cannon opened his school doors to the news media and spent the morning giving TV interviews, showing off his school’s sparkling new gym, its renovated playground, and its brightly lit hallways that smell like fresh paint.

And that’s why the school plans to open its doors again on Wednesday to the business community to show people who work at nearby Wayne State University and the Detroit Medical Center how much the school has changed.

Media visit Spain Elementary. Photo: Erin Einhorn
Media visit Spain Elementary. Photo: Erin Einhorn

Spain still faces tremendous challenges — starting with just getting enough students to be able to pay the bills.

Enrollment is down this year, in part because of last year’s turmoil but also because of dramatic change in the neighborhood, Cannon said.

Midtown has transformed in recent years as new shops and restaurants have sprouted up. The new Whole Foods market is just a few blocks from the school and hundreds of new condos are being built, not only in midtown but in nearby neighborhoods like Brush Park and Eastern Market.

Rising prices means longtime Spain families have scattered to more affordable parts of the city while new residents moving in are mostly young adults without children.

But while that’s concerning and is hurting enrollment this year, Cannon says it’s also an opportunity for a school that was once known across Detroit as a top performing arts school.

Principal Frederick Cannon wants Spain to become the “jewel of midtown." Photo: Erin Einhorn
Principal Frederick Cannon wants Spain to become the “jewel of midtown.” Photo: Erin Einhorn

“Everyone who played an instrument or danced, they went to Spain,” Cannon said. “I have rooms full of orchestra equipment and band equipment. This was serious business and these rooms were just sitting there. My vision is bring that back and once again become the performing arts school for Detroit.”

Spain’s building is not fully occupied. It has an entire floor that’s not being used. Cannon sees that as potential to add programs and rebuild the school, both for the families who attend today and for the new residents moving in who may not have kids yet but may someday be looking for a local public school.

“We want to reestablish ourselves as the jewel of midtown and give them the educational option when it’s time,” Cannon said.

Spain is one of three district schools that is now offering Montessori classes to kids in preschool and kindergarten — a program that is one of the district’s key initiatives to attract middle-class families.

In addition to rebuilding the performing arts programs, Cannon says he created new computer labs and is adding resources to help bring up test scores, which have been low in recent years.

In most grades, fewer than 5 percent of the school’s students tested proficient in math on the state’s M-STEP exam last year.

By inviting parents who work at the bustling neighborhood to tour the school on Wednesday, Cannon says he hopes some will appreciate the convenience of a school near where they work.

But, until he can bring test scores up, convincing middle-class families to take a gamble on the school could take some work.

Though Spain may have gotten a makeover, the federal civil rights lawsuit filed earlier this month alleged horrendous conditions that continue in other schools throughout the city.

The news of the lawsuit — broadcast widely — was yet another public relations stain for a district that was already being shunned by families with other options.

But Cannon says he’s convinced that things are turning around — and he’s hoping that by showing off his sparkling new school, he can help change some opinions about the district.

“This is a place where kids can come and be comfortable and be happy,” he said. “It’s a clean, safe environment.”

Montessori teacher Kellie Stevens says she sees a big difference in the school this year.

“Our school looks like a school now,” Stevens said. “It smells like a school now and we’re just very excited about the school year.”

Students, too, say they’re excited.

Overstreet was dribbling a basketball in the gym Monday morning, right by the spot where the gym’s bulging floor used to trip him and his classmates and send their ball flying off in the wrong direction.

Now, he said he loves playing basketball in gym class. The school now even has a certified gym teacher, which it didn’t have last year.

“We have a new principal. We have a new fresh gym and now everything is brand new,” Overstreet said. “Last year, we started out pretty lopsided. This year, we’re starting out nice and straight.”

Chalkbeat Detroit

Editor’s Note: Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools. Content republished here with permission.

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19 Awesome Detroit Dive Bars You’re Going To Want To Visit Mon, 26 Sep 2016 01:10:51 +0000 Bitters and swizzle sticks are infiltrating our drinking scene as craft cocktails are all the rage as of late. And that’s all well and good, but for our money there’s still nothing that can beat a great dive bar.

A dive bar that gets you a Stroh’s, a shot of whiskey and good conversation that costs you $20 for the round with a few friends instead of $20 for one drink – and the stories that come from these places are priceless.

Many of these dive bars have stood the test of time and have more stories than a library has books. Some of them have been labeled “bad decision bars” by others, but we think that just makes them all the more appealing. So put on your drinking coats and let’s head out the door. Each and every one of these establishments has been visited by our merry band – often multiple times – so you know what you’re getting into.

1. 2-Way Inn

Because of course the 2 (or Two) Way Inn. The place holds the title as the oldest drinking establishment in the city, and it’s where farmers used to stop and spend the night after hitching up their horses on the way to Eastern Market way back in the day before selling their produce. It’s named as such as there are two ways in and out of every room in the building. Say hi to Dan or Katie P.

17897 Mt. Elliott Street in Detroit

2. Tom’s Tavern

Tom's Tavern Dive Bar in Detroit

Sure, the floor is slanted. And the exterior is made of some sort of particle board. But if you get Ron going on crazy stories of Detroit’s past, or you bring a group of folks with you, it’s gold. It also has a great old-school jukebox and is a great place for a weekend night stop-through. This place has a long history and don’t miss the Babe Ruth party every year.

10093 West Seven Mile Road in Detroit

3. Nancy Whiskey

Nancy Whiskey's Dive Bar in DetroitThis North Corktown dive bar is part of the pantheon of Detroit drinking establishments. It’s seen a resurgence as nearby Corktown has roared back and still has a loyal following from when the Tigers played at the corner of Trumbull and Michigan. Their friendly service and phoenix-like story of rising from the ashes after a fire a few years ago give it amazing character. We’ve had our writer meetings here often at this establishment that harkens back to 1902.

2644 Harrison Street in Detroit

4. Cas Bar

Cas Bar Dive Bar

When you’re on the west side of the city, you’re going to want to check out the Cas Bar. So named as it was originally on Cass in midtown (this was the 1950s, according to the bartender), it lost an “s” and is now at Casper and Michigan Avenue. Lots of great stories in this neighborhood watering hole.

7800 Michigan Avenue in Detroit

5. Abick’s

Abicks Bar Detroit

Gem of a place in Southwest with more stories than a library. If you happen to luck out when they’re cooking, you’re in for an awesome treat.

3500 Gilbert Street in Detroit

6. Old Miami

Old Miami Backyard Detroit

As midtown rises around it, it’s almost like the magical backyard is a protected haven from the forces of foie gras infused whiskey or whatever the hell is the new thing happening right now. It has a long history as a Veteran’s bar before the hip happenings started popping up around it. It’s on the edge, though. Frankly, it could un-dive at any time so enjoy it now.

3930 Cass Avenue in Detroit

7. Freer Bar

Dive bar - Freer Bar Detroit

In the same neighborhood as the Cas is the Freer. On a recent birthday trip, one of our contributors suggested it and we were not disappointed. It is perfectly divey, affordable, friendly and a diverse crowd of all walks of life.

7355 Michigan Avenue, Detroit

8. My Dad’s Bar

My Dads Bar Detroit Grosse Pointe Dive Bar

On the city limits it’s mere feet from the suburban border, the true last stop in Detroit before you hit Grosse Pointe. The place has a level of retro kitsch including a leg lamp that’s comfortable, and has the unmistakable “Smile your Dad’s from.. Detroit” mural on the side.

14911 Kercheval Avenue in Detroit

9. Marshall’s Bar

Marshall's Bar Detroit Dive Bar

Near My Dad’s on Jefferson on the far east side, in a building that harkens back to the Detroit of yesteryear is Marshall’s. The place is a fun dive bar diversion complete with a pool table and old cigarette signs, but the secret is the back yard is right next to the east side canals.

14716 E Jefferson Avenue in Detroit

10. Jumbo’s

On the edges of midtown development, this place continues to hold out the flag for affordable drinks and awesomely weird times. Look for the pirate that sometimes dresses as a rockette.

3736 3rd Avenue in Detroit

11. LJ’s Lounge

On the same block of Corktown there’s Slow’s. Then there’s Sugar House. And to the other side is Gold Cash Gold. In the middle of this fracas of finery is LJ’s. Cash only, fish tanks behind the bar and every crazy Budweiser sign from bygone eras plastered everywhere.

2114 Michigan Avenue in Detroit

12. Giovanna’s Lounge

Detroit Dive Bar Giovannas

With an interesting hard-corner shaped interior bar and one of the most eclectic patios in the city, this friendly joint is the perfect watering hole after Xochi’s, Los Galanes or any of the restaurants in that area. There’s often a very good taco truck parked next door.

3537 Vernor Highway in Detroit

13. Whiskey In The Jar

Dive bar Whiskey in the jar

This Hamtramck establishment (we’re including Hamtown in this list because it’s an enclave of the city) is epic and has also been listed as “Best Bad Decision” bar. Personally, a lot of good decisions (as far as fun goes) have been made here – and the beers served are great. There’s a neat little patio out back, don’t miss it before it gets too cold.

2741 Yemans Street, Hamtramck

14. Painted Lady Lounge

For our Hamtramck dive bar swing, we’re including this one with occasional live music, old-school video games and epic Pabst Blue Ribbon lamps.

2930 Jacob Street in Hamtramck

15. Suzy’s Bar

Talk about stepping back in time. This place is dive bar meets 1950s kitsch and is a memorable stop. Look for the peace sign and remember to use the buzzer.

2942 Evaline Street, Hamtramck

16. Baker Streetcar Bar

Hamtramck Dive Bar Baker Streetcar

It’s long. It’s narrow. It’s named after what used to be the Baker Streetcar that ran down what’s now known as Joseph Campau (fun fact, that stretch of Hamtramck was at one time one of the busiest shopping destinations in Michigan). The walls are lined with historic photos. Great mid-destination stop when drinking around Hamtramck.

9817 Joseph Campau Avenue in Hamtramck

17. Stone House Bar

Detroit Saloon Stonehouse Bar

After a short hiatus, this outpost (and we name it such as it was created as one back in the day) of dive bar drinking and tomfoolery is back and open. It’s one of the older bars in the city, and is just a block away from where the old Theatre Bizarre was by the State Fairgrounds. The recent renovation thankfully didn’t get rid of the old, but it did clean it up a bit. You just don’t find porches and buildings like these operating in Detroit too often anymore.

19803 Ralston Street, Detroit

18. Charlie’s Bar

Detroit Dive Bar Charlies

This dive bar deep cut is on the west side of town and is a quintessential neighborhood bar – cash only, eight decades of history, epic sign, and a hidden little outdoor space.

1503 Springwells Street in Detroit

19. Temple Bar

Temple Bar Detroit

Last but nowhere near least on our list, pay tribute the drinking gods at the almightiest of dive bar temples, aptly named the Temple Bar. George is the high priest of this temple, and he may make a quick joke and all will be right in the world behind the glass block and art-deco facade of this holdout that’s steps away from the new Red Wings arena. We’re happy to see they’re not selling out with the arrival of the new arena, so if you want a taste of Detroit (and whiskey), this is the place to go.

2906 Cass Avenue in Detroit

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25 Fun Things To Do In Detroit This Summer That Are $5 Or Less Fri, 10 Jun 2016 20:43:04 +0000 Look, we’ve all been there. You want to get out of the house, but you think there’s not enough money to leave to the house. But you still want to have fun, right? Or find a good deal and enjoy Detroit? Fear not, we have 25 cheap, inexpensive and/or free things to do in Detroit and the surrounding area to make sure that even though you’re close to broke you can still have a good time.

1. Bike The Expanded Dequindre Cut

It’s a really fun ride now and has been extended all the way to Eastern Market. Pick it up either at Milliken State Park or at the Wilkins Street Plaza just east of Russell Street in Detroit.

2. Early Bird Breakfast Special At Rose’s

This place was featured in a bunch of food magazines and the prices are usually a bit on the higher side. But Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. they have $5 specials. Facebook – 10551 E. Jefferson, Detroit

Nancy Whiskey patio, via Nancy Whiskey Facebook page
Nancy Whiskey patio, via Nancy Whiskey Facebook page

3. Dollar Beer Wednesdays at Nancy Whiskey

This North Corktown place has a new patio and everything, but on Wednesdays, it’s $1 PBR beers. There’s jenga, too. Website – 2644 Harrison Street, Detroit

4. Grab Coneys

$2.35 each at Lafayette. Around the same price at the other place (American). Also highly recommend the other pair of dueling coneys, Duly’s or Columbo’s, if you’re feeling more adventurous.

Lafayette: 118 West Lafayette Boulevard, Detroit

American: 114 West Lafayette Boulevard, Detroit

Duly’s: 5458 West Vernor, Detroit

Colombo’s: 5414 West Vernor, Detroit

5. The Detroit Institute of Arts

If you live in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb County, you can get general admission into great museum for free. Website – 5200 Woodward Avenue, Detroit

6. Picnic And Watch The Skyline From Belle Isle

It’s really cool and peaceful – a good thinking spot to take a look at the city. If you bike, bus or walk on the island, it’s free – otherwise, you will need a state pass for your car. That’s more than $5, but you’ll use it over and over again, not to mention the access to the free stuff on the island – and you might have already paid for it when you renewed your plates.

7. Dossin Great Lakes Museum

If you’re already on the island, there are three cool things to check out that are free (though, if you have a buck, throw it in the box). You can see the bridge of the frieghter William Clay Ford, a room from a steamship the U.S.S. Detroit, and more. Website – 100 Strand Drive, Detroit

8. The Aquarium

At one point America’s oldest continuously running aquarium, it was shut down for awhile but it’s finding new life thanks to a great group of volunteers. Only open on Saturdays and Sundays. Website – 900 Inselruhe, Detroit

Belle Isle Conservatory9. Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory

This is a historic and beautiful cornucopia of plants from around the world. It’s like a tropical trip without the airfare. Well, kinda. Website – 7000 Inselruhe, Detroit

10. Hit The Awesome Backyard Of The Old Miami (when there isn’t a show)

Go a time there isn’t a cover, grab yourself an inexpensive beer or well drink and sit and enjoy one of the tucked away gems of Detroit. The patio is best in the warm afternoons anyway. 3930 Cass Avenue, Detroit

11. Drive and see the awesome houses of a neighborhood or two

Try Sherwood Forest, Grandmont Rosedale, or Indian Village for some awesome, architecturally neat houses. Various locations

12. Check Out A Pure Detroit Architectural Tour

They’re free on the weekends and you get your choice of a Guardian Building, Corrado Parducci, or a Fisher Building tour. Facebook events – Various locations

13. All The Things At New Center Park

Their programming is completely free and has everything from theatrical acts to movie nights. – Website – 2998 West Grand Boulevard

14. Go For A Walk Or A Bike Ride In A Historic Cemetery

Our suggestions off the bat for the novice would be Woodmere or Elmwood, both having all kinds of people from Detroit’s past.

Woodmere: 9400 West Fort, Detroit

Elmwood: Website – 1200 Elmwood, Detroit

Photo via Detroit Historical Museum
Photo via Detroit Historical Museum

15. Check Out The Old Streets Of Detroit At The Detroit Historical Museum

Speaking of history, step in a time machine and hit the Detroit Historical Museum. In the basement, they have an entire setup of the old streets of Detroit. It’s kind of amazing. There’s the rest of the museum to check out, too. Website – 5401 Woodward, Detroit

16. Rockin’ On The Riverfront Concerts

There are six between July and August right by the GM Rencen and this year include Grand Funk Railroad, Starship, and Blue Oyster Cult. Hey, they’re free.

17. Exhibitions At The Scarab Club

If you want to be cultured but the DIA is too mainstream for you (or you’re looking for something different), this is one of Detroit’s oldest creative institutions, and you can check out their gallery for free Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 5:00 p.m. Their next exhibition is Whitney Snow, starting June 29. Some of their other events area also free. Website – 217 Farnsworth, Detroit

18. River Days

The three day festival from June 24-29 has everything from performances to an air show. It’s just $3 before 3 p.m. and $5 after 3 p.m. to support the non-profit Detroit RiverFront Conservancy. Some of the things inside it may cost, though. Website – The Riverwalk

19. Detroit Soup

If you want to get dinner AND help a great cause, then Detroit Soup is your answer. There is a main “Soup” and soups around the city. The basic idea is the event is free but the $5 goes to the elected winner after a series of pitches for neighborhood or creative projects. The food is potluck, so no menu – but hey, it’s $5 and a great way to meet people at interesting places all over the city! Website – Various locations

20. Select Detroit Experience Factory Tours

So these tours aren’t of a factory; they’re of the sights and scenes of Detroit. On weekends, their Best of Downtown tour is free at 2 p.m. and on Mondays there is an art and architecture tour at 6 p.m. Website – 123 Monroe Street, Detroit

21. The Heidelberg Project

It’s on a public street on the east side – and it’s a crazily creative, open air art exhibition to see. It’s one of Detroit’s most popular tourist attractions, we’re told. Summertime is the best time to see this because it’s nice out. Website – 3600 Heidelberg in Detroit


22. Detroit Sports Zone

Although there are some camps that cost money, you can get a quick game in or some competition in 9 a.m. – daily on the open courts. Website – Next to Campus Martius Park

23. Events At The MOCAD

The Museum Of Contemporary Art and Detroit has a ton of events happening – and when they open up the big garage doors of the space, it’s a breezy fun experience. Website – 4454 Woodward, Detroit

24. The Palmer Park Splash Park

Targeted to open June 24, the Palmer Park Splash Park is a fun way to cool off in the summer. Open 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Website – Located on Merrill Plaisance, between McNichols (6 Mile) and 7 Mile Roads.

25. Sit On The Beach At Campus Martius

Look, one of the things Detroit doesn’t have a lot of is beaches. It’d be great if our waterfront was opened up more from those ugly steel barriers, but it is what it is. Enjoy the sun and lay out on the Campus Martius Beach in the middle of the city. Often, there are free concerts going on as well. Website – Woodward at Michigan avenues, Detroit

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Look Inside An Old Church Finding New Life As A Nonprofit Headquarters Fri, 10 Jun 2016 14:58:57 +0000 Much of the attention on development in Detroit has been downtown. But if you watch – there are things starting to happen in various places across the city. One of those is a renovation happening to an empty church across the street from Rose’s Fine Foods on Jefferson. This week we noticed the work being done on the roof and a new sign in front of the building, so we decided to stop in and get the story.


I talked to Chris Angel the President of Great Lakes Clean Water/US Clean Water Organization (GLCW) and he invited us to come by and take a tour of the former church and to tell us more about what the GLCW does.

The GLCW is an organization that focuses on collecting and destroying unused medications that pharmacies collect from the community. The goal is to keep people from flushing them down the toilet. There are only twenty-seven reverse distributers in the United States, and they are the only one that is a non-profit. Participating pharmacies have yellow jugs that are used to dispose of the unwanted medication, and once the jugs are filled they are collected by GLCW and incinerated.

The GLCW purchased the former church in order to move the headquarters from Alpena to Detroit.

The church was originally built as one of the first English speaking Lutheran Churches in Detroit in 1927. Over the years it changed denominations, and was eventually closed a few years ago.

church 1938 2

There is a lot of work to be done. The plan is to put in an office, storage for the yellow jugs, and a venue for fundraisers and educational classes.

Choir loft

The office will be in the choir loft and will overlook the whole venue. The goal is to finish the offices in two months.

View of venue space, and choir loft

The “H2O venue” is expected to be ready in six months, and available for rent to various community groups.

View from choir loft

Sometime during the 1970’s the church that owned the building did a lot of work. They installed a baptismal tub behind where the pulpit was. You can kind of see it in the above picture, there is a tiny bit of mint green peaking out. Instead of removing the tub they plan on covering it.

Window with exposed brick

The inside is also covered in wood tiles which will be removed over time. They plan on mixing the original materials with more modern materials like stainless steel and birch hardwood. They also plan on exposing the original brick work and beams in some places.

Exposed beams

In the basement they will store the empty yellow jugs. The jugs are used by pharmacies to collect unwanted and unused medications. There will be no drugs kept in the building, those go to a secure vault in Oscoda, Michigan.


The church is not overly ornate, however there are still a few really cool original touches left over from when it was built in 1927.

Doors to foyer

All of the doors are still in beautiful working order.

Door knobs

Most of the doors still have the original brass door knobs.


The majority of the windows are still in really good condition, with the exception of two that were damaged due to the leaking roof. They are currently looking for someone who works with leaded glass to have them repaired.

New Headquarters of Great Lakes Clean Water

GLCW made a documentary about the Yellow Jugs Old Drugs Program, it aired on PBS stations throughout the state in 2013 and 2014. It is about thirty minutes, but it really goes in depth of how medications can wreck havoc on our water and what the organization does to fix the problem.

The building is at 10624 East Jefferson, between Meadowbrook and Harding streets.

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Detroit Ranked as Best City in America for Hockey Fans Wed, 08 Jun 2016 23:36:07 +0000 Anxiously awaiting the start of the 2016-2017 NHL season? If you’re in Detroit, you’re not alone. WalletHub released a report that ranked 72 of the largest U.S. cities to determine which ones were the best for hockey fans.

The report used 17 metrics, including ticket prices, stadium capacity, and the performance level of each city’s teams. Based on the findings, Detroit came in first as the overall best city for hockey fans.

Breaking down that ranking even further, the report shows that Detroit ranks first in the nation for NHL fans but didn’t do as well in the college hockey rankings. The city came in 56 there.

The top five overall cities for hockey are

  1. Detroit
  2. Boston
  3. Pittsburgh
  4. New York
  5. Chicago

The top five cities for NHL fans are

  1. Detroit
  2. Pittsburgh
  3. New York
  4. Boston
  5. Chicago

The top five cities for college hockey fans are

  1. Boston
  2. Ann Arbor
  3. Grand Forks, ND
  4. Houghton, MI
  5. Big Rapids, MI

The report then went on to rank cities based on best-performing teams, ticket price, stadium capacity, and fan engagement.

Not surprisingly, Detroit appeared high in the rankings again when it came to NHL fan engagement. The city ranked fourth for highest fan engagement. Obviously, Detroiters love their team and aren’t afraid to show it or pay for it. Detroit came in 18 (out of 21) for lowest minimum season ticket price for an NHL game.

Ann Arbor came in first for highest college hockey fan engagement, and fans are willing to pay quite a bit to go to a game. Ann Arbor tied for 38th place (out of 43) for lowest minimum season ticket price for a college hockey game.

To reach these results, WalletHub compared 72 of the most populated U.S. cities across two divisions, including NHL (Division I Men’s) and college hockey (Div. I Men’s). The cities chosen have at least one college or professional hockey team.

The report then looked at 17 metrics like number of hockey teams, number of Stanely Cup Wins, franchise value, fan attendance, and popularity index.

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The Detroit Wall: A Tale of How Federal Policy Helped Divide A City Mon, 06 Jun 2016 23:27:14 +0000 Starting at the northern boundary of Antwerp Park on Pembroke Avenue is a 6-foot high wall, known by many names. The Detroit Eight Mile Wall, Detroit’s Wailing Wall, The Birwood Wall, or the Wyoming Wall. The wall extends about half a mile north and stops just south of 8 Mile Road.

The wall served one purpose: To separate an already existent black neighborhood from a new all-white neighborhood.

But why? Money. And racially-charged federal housing policies.

You see, in the 1930s, that area of Detroit was rather remote. The city hadn’t yet extended sewer lines there, but black families were eager to get away from the Hasting Street neighborhoods. They saw this area as their chance to escape. So they moved to this little bit of land near Birwood and build their own small houses.

No one really took notice of the little community until the early 1940s. A white developer wanted to build a neighborhood for white people just west of the little black neighborhood. To do so, he would need the FHA, Federal Housing Administration (a new federal entity created by the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration designed to help homeowners secure mortgages) to agree to it.

Unfortunately for him, the FHA refused to back mortgages in the new neighborhood because it was so close to the black neighborhood. The FHA held the view that the presence of minorities in a neighborhood would increase homeowners’ risk of default. The neighborhoods that the FHA deemed risky, they colored red on a map.

This action gave rise to the term “red-lining” and made it extremely difficult (and in some cases impossible) for black people to become homeowners.

The FHA’s refusal didn’t deter the developer. He had a solution. He would build a wall to separate the two neighborhoods. That would send a loud and clear signal that blacks and whites didn’t live in the same neighborhood.

After he built the wall, the FHA agreed to back mortgages in the all-white neighborhood, leading to an influx of white people in that specific area.

The Detroit Wall is one of the city’s relics, a reminder of a past in which blatant racism wasn’t met with cries of outrage.

But why does the existence of the wall even matter now? It’s 2016. The Civil Rights Movement has come and gone. It’s water under the bridge, right?

Not quite.

If this was just about a wall, we could simply knock it down and move on with our lives. The Detroit Wall isn’t the problem. It’s a physical manifestation of the problem. The true issue lies with faulty federal policy.

And policy has the potential to impact our neighborhoods for generations. What is the long-term effect of policy that inherently favors and empowers one group over another? What is the long-term effect of creating a physical barrier between neighborhoods and people?

Hint: It’s not good.

Vox’s Alvin Chang recently looked at the effects of living in a poor neighborhood. In the article, Chang opens with the story of the Detroit Wall and uses it as a prime example of the FHA’s policies and how they helped create two different Americas, one of upward mobility and one of stagnation. The data is fascinating.

Of the black children born between 1955 and 1970, 33 percent lived in areas of medium poverty and 29 percent lived in areas of high poverty. This is perhaps understandable, given the FHA’s housing policy and the ongoing Civil Rights Movement.

However, of black children born between 1985 and 2000, 35 percent lived in medium poverty areas and 31 percent lived in high poverty areas. Very little has changed, even after the Civil Rights Movement. Among black people, there is very little intergenerational mobility. If you’re born into a poor family, you’ll likely remain poor.

Children who grow up in poor neighborhoods are less likely to do well in school. They’re more likely to be overweight, and they’re more likely to have a lower I.Q. than their peers who grow up in wealthy neighborhoods.

Children who grow up in poor neighborhoods are also more likely to be black, but that often gets glossed over. It’s uncomfortable talking about race, because that means we must look into our country’s past and admit that there were federally endorsed policies that squelched specific minorities’ (if not all minorities’) abilities to move up in life.

But if we don’t acknowledge the true roots of the problem, we can’t fix the problem. And this is a problem that needs to be fixed. How? There are suggested solutions aplenty, some better than others. Whatever we choose, it needs to help in the long-term. Short-term thinking will only compound the present issues in the future.

Today sections of the Detroit Wall have been transformed into murals depicting justice and equality. Does this erase the painful past? No. Does it put to right what so many years of policy have harmed? Of course not.

But it does teach us that we can take what was once used for ill and use it for good.

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8 Things You Need To Know About Detroit’s New Mass Transit Plan Tue, 31 May 2016 19:12:28 +0000 Earlier today, the Southeast Michigan RTA, or Regional Transit Authority, unveiled a $4.6 billion new plan for a regional public transportation system. The plan is a response to over two dozen failed transit plans and aims to connect the four-country Southeast Michigan area. We’ve got your need-to-know info on the plan.

The plan’s changes won’t happen all at once

Regional Map

Lest we get ahead of ourselves in our bright, starry-eyed visions of a more connected region, it’s important to remember that the plan’s changes won’t all happen overnight, or even this year. The first of the RTA’s proposed service implementations will happen in 2017. They include express service on Woodward Ave and Gratiot Ave (Pre-BRT), paratransit and mobility management, and DTW Airport express service.

It has to be approved by voters first

While the idea of a new, comprehensive transit plan for the Southeast Michigan area is exciting, it has to be formally approved by the RTA board. Once the plan is approved, likely at the board’s meeting on July 21, it will go to voters in the four-country RTA region in November.

In November, voters will decide on whether or not to pass a 1.2 mill, 20-year property tax millage to pay for the changes in the plan. If the millage is passed, it would start in 2017.

It will cost homeowners about $8 a month

A 1.2 regional transit millage is a $1.2 property tax for every $1,000 of assessed value of a home. The millage that voters will decide on will add an expense to property taxes each year. A homeowner who has a home assessed at $78,856, the regional average, will pay about $95 per year, or less than $8 per month. Homes that are assessed at $100,000 would add an extra $120 per year to property taxes.

This new millage would be on in addition to the millages for property owners in areas served by SMART and the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority.

It’s not just about the city of Detroit

Regional Transit Plan

While transportation in the Metro Detroit area will play a large part in the new plan, the ultimate goal is to connect the four-county region of Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties. Right now, different transit service providers for different areas require multiple transfers to cross the region. With the new plan, transit across the counties could be seamless, which, according to one of our writers, is exactly what Detroit’s mass transit needs.

The plan would expand bus service in the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti areas, but it would also help connect major commuter routes, including the creation of a commuter rail between Ann Arbor and the Amtrak station in Detroit’s New Center.

Despite the larger impact the plan is expected to have, many local service improvements are slated to happen in the first five years of the plan. Other services like bus rapid transit and commuter rail would happen from 2022-2026.

You’ll have more transit options

Current Transit

With the new RTA plan comes a slew of great new transit options, both in terms of routes and vehicles. There are plans for cross-county connectors that will offer frequent, seamless service on major regional routes. In addition to increased bus transportation, the RTA plan includes provisions for streetcars (in the form of the QLINE) and a daily regional rail service that will connect Ann Arbor and Detroit.

Finally, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) will combine the features of rail (like dedicated lanes and well-designed stations) with that of a bus along the region’s main economic corridors.

Compare these new options to the current, limited local options (seen in the map). Want to really get into the future of Detroit mass transit? Check out this video.

You won’t have to pay for airport parking

Tired of paying sky-high fees for airport parking? If the RTA’s plan is approved, you might not have to. One of the new services in the plan is an airport express service that will provide convenient, affordable, and comfortable service to the airport from destinations throughout the region. Services to the airport will be offered from Ann Arbor, Downtown Detroit, Macomb County, Oakland County, I-275, and Ypsilanti.

The plan is expected to be great for the regional economy

Regional Transit Plan

This really shouldn’t be much of a surprise, but it’s important to highlight. The new RTA plan will bring increased connectivity and economic development to the Southeast Michigan area. The RTA estimates that over the next 20 years, the plan will have a $6 billion economic development impact, directly support 67,000 new jobs, and increase personal income by $4.4 billion.

It will boost spending on transit, but not by that much compared to other regions

Regional Transit Spending

Right now, the four-country region invests less in public transportation per capita than any other major metropolitan region. In 2014, Southeast Michigan invested about $69 per capita, compared with $471 for Seattle, $357 for Boston, and $283 for Chicago. If the master plan for the region is passed and funded, it will boost transit spending to about $144 per capita.

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6 Fantastic Facts About Detroit’s Scrapped 1915 Subway Proposal Sun, 29 May 2016 22:54:11 +0000 Did you know that Detroit had a serious proposal to construct a subway? According to a 1915 report at the New York Public Library and on the Internet Archive titled, “On Detroit Street Railway Traffic and Proposed Subway,” we were pretty darn close to joining other major cities with this amenity.

At the time, cars were just beginning to be a thing. The city had not only streetcars, but there was an interurban rail system to reach faraway places like Northville, Mt. Clemens and Pontiac.

It was a very different Detroit. This plan is audacious and fanciful. We dug through the three hundred plus pages by Barclay, Parsons & Klapp and pulled out some interesting tidbits.

1. The Woodward line would run from downtown to Ford’s Highland Park Plant

Woodward Avenue Subway Plan
1915 Scrapped Woodward Avenue Subway Plan
It’s fascinating to see the diagram of the Woodward line downtown, connecting to all of the streetcars. Imagine if Campus Martius instead was a bustling transit hub for the entire region — because at one time it was, and this would have made it on the level of say The Loop in Chicago. And the address of a recently built (1910), giant Ford factory in Highland Park? 91 Manchester. Ford’s famous $5 a day wage was unveiled the year before in 1914.

2. You would have been able to take the train to Belle Isle 

Detail of the plan on Belle Island for rail service.
Detail of the plan on Belle Island for rail service.
Yes, that would have been a thing. The plan talks about a subway but also details a terminus station that would be set back, almost invisible as to not disturb the beautiful view. You’d hop off your Shoreline Interurban (that ran all the way to Mt. Clemens) and onto a connector train that’d take you onto the island. Back then, most of the island was walking paths (including that big road in the middle that has that horseman statue — that was a brick walkway).

3. They expected 28,000,000 passenger subway trips per year

Thick lines were with the subway, thin lines without.
Thick lines were the transit times with the subway, thin lines without.

3. Factory workers were the focus of these plans


Page after page mentions factory and industrial workers — this subway wasn’t designed for the east coast “Wall Street” types, but as a functional and important tool for the working people of Detroit. At the time, Detroit had a variety of industries based on turning ores and resources from the rest of Michigan into objects. Detroit was known as the Stove Capital of the world. The plans go down to the detail of what companies most people worked for, and where they lived.

4. They’re well thought out


This wasn’t some slapdash meme. This 300 page plus document accounted for everything from sewer lines and dealing with buried creeks to significant trees. There are elevations from downtown all the way to Manchester street. It would have been something Detroit could have been very proud of.

5. Downtown Detroit was way more dense than it is now


So much so that the energy of our city would be totally unrecognizable. Imagine if roughly 20,000 people lived in the combined area where Comerica Park, Ford Field and their parking lots and that slice of I-75 are now like they did in 1915. For comparison there are only 5,269 people living in the entire Central Business District now – an area many times larger.

6. The Woodward line would have cost about $385,400,000 a hundred years later


On page 25 of the report it outlines the costs, and for the Woodward Line that was estimated to be $16,300,000. Using an inflation conversion tool to estimate what those dollars would be worth 100 years later, in 2015, you get approximately $385,400,000. Of course, in modern times, there may be additional costs – labor rules were different, environmental rules, etc. But by raw comparison, estimates peg the new Little Caesars Arena complex at somewhere around $627 million. The new Q-Line Woodward streetcar running almost exactly half the distance, according the M1-Rail website, is coming in at around $140 million.

size-ofmetro-detroitIt’s important to remember that these plans served a very different city. There was no such thing as freeways, less than 10 percent of Americans owned cars, and they were planning for Detroit to hit a million souls by 1920.

The future of Detroit isn’t written in stone. Back then, city planners could have never imagined the changes coming after World War II. There’s no rule that Detroit has to decline, stay the same, or rise in population. The future is up to us.

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New Photos And An Update On The Progress Of That Giant RoboCop Statue Fri, 27 May 2016 02:01:12 +0000 Awhile back, with much fanfare and commotion on the internet, a crowdfunded Kickstarter campaign raised thousands of dollars to construct a giant RoboCop statue.

Last summer, we talked to both the artist putting the piece together and the organizers in an in-depth piece that we’re not going to repeat here – you can go and read it to see how RoboCop in Detroit got here. We spent more than 2,300 words on it.

We receive between 5 and 10 requests every week asking about this statue at Daily Detroit, more than any other topic we’ve covered.

At that time, they said it’d be the fall of 2015 we’d see the statue. That time has obviously passed as it’s spring of 2016, and although we don’t have a new expected completion date, we do have a couple of updates with photos that we’re sharing with the permission of Brandon Walley from their Imagination Station Kickstarter page.

The story below is told by Taylor Roe and the photographs from Venus Bronze Works, according to organizers. The text was posted a couple of days ago; the photos are from the last two updates. They’re on the head and the big feet.

“We’re just letting Giorgio and his team buckle down and do the work,” said Walley to Daily Detroit.

Photo via Venus Bronze Works
Photo via Venus Bronze Works

A RoboBacker in Old Detroit

Like the rest of you, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the latest Robo news, and through a serious of fortunate events, I found myself face to face with Robocop’s large bronze visage on my very first trip to Detroit.

10 Feet Tall and Bulletproof

The last time Team Robo checked in, the molds had been prepared and were at Venus Bronze Works in the capable hands of artisan Giorgio Gikas, who is in the final stages of crafting many dollars’ worth of bronze bricks into a RoboCop that will weight 2500 pounds and stand 10 feet tall—13 once on his pedestal.

Touring the studio helped me understand just how large of an undertaking building the statue has been. Giorgio put in a furnace solely to melt the statue’s bronze, which is then poured by hand into each form. And after a tremendous amount of work—pro-bono, no less—almost every section of RoboCop has been cast, ready to be assembled.

Photo via Venus Bronze Works
Photo via Venus Bronze Works
Photo via Venus Bronze Works
Photo via Venus Bronze Works
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