Days 69-70 Thursday & Friday June 28-29, 2007 -Detroit, Michigan
“R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!” Oh, did I give it away? Yes, Thursday afternoon would bring us into Motown, where we would sing our little hearts out. To be honest, we weren’t really sure why we were going to visit Detroit, but thought it a worthwhile stop on our drive to Chicago. We knew of both Detroit’s rich musical history and of it’s long demise as a major U.S. City, so we weren’t sure what we would find there. First of all, before we could get to Detroit, we had to get the heck out of Ohio!
We left Sandusky early Thursday morning on our way to Chicago. This day would also take us through parts of Michigan and Northern Indiana. Before we could leave Ohio though, we needed to stop at a library in Toledo in order to get on the internet and book a hotel for the next three nights in Chicago. In the name of maximum flexibility, we had held off booking a hotel in Chicago so we could nail down how many nights we would need there. Without much trouble, we found a library in Toledo and took care of the hotel situation. We were now free to get on the road for our full day of driving.
On this trip, we have rarely ever taken the shortest way from point A to point B. Today would be much of the same as Detroit sat about sixty miles north of the quickest route to Chicago. Would this detour pan out? In Detroit, we only had time to do a little drive through sightseeing in addition to seeing the Motown Museum. After getting into the city, we quickly made our way to the aforementioned museum.
Barry Gordy ran the Motown record label (and many others) out of eight houses in an old Detroit neighborhood until the late 1960’s. Four of these houses are owned by the Motown Museum and are used in preserving Detroit’s musical history. When we pulled up to the museum and looked at the door, to be honest, it looked abandoned. Another person trying to find the museum asked me if it was open, so I peaked my head inside. The interior, thankfully, looked nothing like the exterior of the old house. I think perhaps, they should consider sprucing up the outside, but maybe they are just trying to keep the building in the same shape as the rest of the neighborhood. (More on that later) While we weren’t able to take any pictures inside other than in the studio, the museum tour was led by a very nice guide, who elaborated on many of the exhibits.
The tour started with a short video about the history of Motown music. Following the movie, we went upstairs to a room full of information on Barry Gordy and how he started the Motown record label. From there, we toured the apartment Barry Gordy lived in during the early Motown days, before entering Studio A. Studio A happens to be the place most of the early Motown #1 records were recorded. In perhaps the best part of the tour, the men and then the women, were asked to perform a song in the studio! As you can see, we really enjoyed The Motown Museum.
Following the tour, we left the museum and took a drive around the neighborhood. It didn’t take us long to notice, that parts of the city look completely abandoned. On some streets, rows and rows of houses were boarded up and graffiti could be seen everywhere. Many commercial buildings are also derelict and falling apart. Just blocks from the museum, we saw a high rise building missing many of it’s windows. Much of the city looks like the worst areas of Tijuana, Mexico. I am sure though, that if we had more time, we would have seen many wonderful parts of this city of over a million people. After thirty minutes of “seeing it for ourself”, we left Detroit for a more vibrant city, Chicago.
We arrived in Chicago late Thursday night and went right to bed. The next morning, we woke up and ran some errands before being ready to drive towards the Museum of Science & Industry. Unfortunately, not all went according to plans. It was 2pm before we were ready to drive to the museum. Little did we know, that we were about to get a real taste of Chicago traffic. The freeway was bumper to bumper and the surface streets were just as bad. By 3 o’clock we had only made it about two of the twenty miles to the museum, so I called off the trip and we headed back to the hotel to relax for the rest of the day. In the end, we lost an afternoon of sightseeing, but took some much needed rest.
Tomorrow, we are going to take the train into the city (we are staying by the airport). On the agenda for the next couple of days is the Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, Taste of Chicago Food Festival, Field Museum, Museum of Science & Industry, Hancock Observatory (94th Floor of John Hancock Building) and some time around Lake Michigan. I’m sure that it will prove to be another couple of long days. Chicago does look like an incredibly beautiful city and with our extra day or rest, we are now ready to tackle it!
The Coomer Family