In case you missed it, Detroit is a beautiful place.
Bicycling across this large city over the past couple of weeks, I couldn’t help but notice the gorgeous fall colors. They seemed to be everywhere, whether I was riding in Detroit’s most desirable communities or through some of its worse blighted neighborhoods. It didn’t matter. Even the abandoned commercial strips where trees and plants were growing through their pockmarked facades and roofs had streaks of brilliant color.
Riding the streets that cut through the open fields on Detroit’s eastside this fall was a tranquil scene. There, I saw wheat colored plants, coupled with vivid red Sumac plants stretching across acres of abandoned land with Maple and Oak trees standing guard in the distance. It reminded me of open farm land found in Michigan’s North Country.
Clark Park on the Southwest side of the city was packed full of bright, shimmering leaves, as were the riverfront parks and canals found in the Creekside community on Detroit’s eastside. Many of the downtown buildings were highlighted in fall’s bright colors as trees, used in their landscaping designs, gradually changed from green.
Belle Isle’s inner woodland trails were glowing with a variety of red, gold and orange leaves. Riding through the trails that wind through that section, I spotted many of the colorful leaves, laying on the surface of the interior ponds, shimmering in the morning sunlight. The island’s assorted lagoons, open prairies and outer wooded areas of the park were lined with color. This created a stunning contrast to the bright blue sky, or in some cases, the turmoil of the low, gray storm clouds that were creeping in from the west. Even the Detroit River seemed much bluer and richer in the fall sunlight.
Viewed from a distance, Detroit can seem depressing or foreboding, and the sheer beauty of this old city can be fleeting. But, as I discovered, riding in Detroit this time of year can be enlightening and somewhat humbling.