By Matt Wolfe
Earlier this year, the New York Times released a story chronicling “52 Places to go in 2017.” The list included natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, vibrant metropolises such as Madrid, Spain, and unexpected gems like the Ryukyu Islands in Japan. This list also included a city that up until recently, many travelers would have never thought of as a destination. Per the New York Times, Detroit, Michigan is a place you should visit in 2017.
The interior of the Rivera Courtyard at the Detroit Institute of arts. Photo courtesy of the New York Times
The image that accompanied Detroit’s entry on the list was of Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The murals were painted between 1932 and 1933, and are a stunning artistic display of the how the city built its reputation as a mecca of mass production. The murals were also an uplifting achievement for a city whose economic future was severely in doubt at the time. By 1933, the Great Depression was already in full swing, and had hit especially hard in industrial towns like Detroit. The city also suffered a banking crisis of its own in 1933, which had been caused largely by the local automakers.
At a time when spirits in the city were low, the murals were an uplifting sight amid the stark realties many Detroiters were facing. Detroit recently endured another such downturn. The federal bailouts and financial woes of the “Big Three” automakers, combined with Detroit’s 2013 bankruptcy, was a dark time for a city that was once a leader in innovation and economic development.
The Times said of the city’s recent resurgence, “Detroit’s revitalization, after its 2013 bankruptcy filing, has long been building…(and) 2017 may be the year promise becomes reality.” Indeed, there is much to rejoice about in Detroit these days. The Q line, Detroit’s first street car since 1956, is on track to open this year. The new District Detroit will soon be completed and provide the city with a world-class sports and entertainment venue, and there has been an explosion of new Detroit-based eateries and breweries. Additionally, ongoing renovations to many of Detroit’s historic districts have breathed life into a city that many left for dead long ago.
Nowadays, many of the crumbling ruins that once symbolized the plight of the city are being restored to their former glory or replaced with new construction. It is this idea of preserving the past while also rebuilding for the future that is a unique aspect of Detroit’s resurgence. Amidst all the new construction and businesses, many iconic symbols and artifacts of the city’s history, like the Detroit Industry murals, are still a critical a part of the city’s landscape. These classic landmarks, combined with the new projects, will once again give the city something to be proud of and make Detroit into a destination for years to come.