Recently I took a dark, early morning bicycle ride throughout downtown Detroit and along the Detroit River. It was a calm ride with little traffic, a couple of busses, and few people out walking. Near the downtown hotels, shift workers were arriving and leaving their jobs. There were a couple of folks sitting alone at tables or along the counter at some of the 24-hour Coney Island Restaurants. They looked somewhat lonely or in deep thought. Eyeing them as I rode by, I was reminded of the famous painting by Edward Hopper titled, “Nighthawks.”
Detroit is a magical city in the early morning just before sunup. The tall office buildings are mostly dark, but a few of them had an occasional lighted office suite that was glowing in the darkness. The glowing suites were generally located well above the street. The office lights cast subtle shadows and highlights that seemed to enhance the design of the building. The indirect lighting cast from the upper floors also created low, ambient light on the streets below.
Looking south across the Detroit River to Canada, the bright neon lighting of a casino lit the sky, much like a beacon or a mythological siren luring customers through their doors. The bright neon lights were also reflecting on the calm, non-rippling water of the river that was gently sliding south. As I rode out to Belle Isle that morning, the sun slowly rose to the east. When it broke over the horizon, the city’s skyline took on a golden hue, as if to welcome a bright, new morning to Detroit.