Posts Tagged ‘Detroit River’

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.

A view of Detroit office buildings from Hart Plaza

A view of Detroit office buildings from Hart Plaza

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.

Detroit River at the break of dawn

Detroit River at the break of dawn

Golden Detroit skyline at sun rise

The Detroit skyline took on a golden hue at sun rise



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The weather this past weekend in Detroit was perfect. The temps were in the 70’s, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and I couldn’t think of better way to enjoy it than out on a bicycle aimlessly riding around. With no particular destination in mind I headed to the Dequindre Cut Greenway (a former railroad line) and rode its length from Gratiot Avenue, south to the Riverwalk. Once on the Riverwalk, I headed east along the Detroit River to where it ends at Mt. Elliot. From there I worked my way over to the Belle Isle Bridge and headed out to the island for a 5-mile loop around.

It was a peaceful morning on the island with little traffic but plenty of other cyclists, runners and walkers. Although the trees and other foliage were still pretty green, I did see a smidgen of autumn colors pushing their way in. Red Tree B Isle_1450

From Belle Isle I rode over the Detroit’s Historic West Village Neighborhood. That neighborhood and others that adjoin it along East Jefferson, is known as the Villages. The Villages were part of the weeklong Detroit Design Festival, and a good number of the design studios had open houses. Along with that, many of the unique shops found in that neighborhood participated in an open-air marketplace. A new coffee-house called Red Hook opened its doors, joining a bunch of new restaurants found in West Village.

Red Hook Coffee_1452

Leaving there, I went downtown and headed north on Woodward Avenue where construction is under way for the new M1 light rail system. Dodging plenty of orange barrels, I came upon the new Red Wings Arena District that just broke ground a couple days prior. Although the construction zone was fenced off, they were allowing people to visit the site and skate on a synthetic ice rink that was ringed by large shipping containers. The containers featured large photos and images of the Detroit Red Wings. In addition to the Red Wings graphics, a few had colorful graffiti works painted by local street artists.

Synthetic Ice Rink_1461 Red Wings Photos Arena_1463

Hockey Arena Graf Container_1464

Detroit’s nighttime festival of lights, called Dlectricity, lit up Midtown on both Friday and Saturday nights. The light show featured over 30 world-renowned artists. Much of their work was featured on the exterior sides of buildings throughout the neighborhood, including the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Public Library, College For Creative Studies, the brick wall on a building at Warren and Woodward Avenues, the Garfield Building, and many others. As I soon found out, getting around the neighborhood (with mobs of cars and people) was a breeze on a bicycle.

Dlectricity at DIA_1430The Dlectricity event also featured a Light Bike Parade Saturday night, and over 2,000 riders participated. Most (if not all) of the bikes were decorated with flashing lights and other glowing devices. The night parade zigzagged its way along a 4-mile route throughout the Midtown neighborhood.

Decorated Bikes Parade_1475

The night ended with the Unofficial Dlectricity Afterparty at the Lincoln Street Artpark. That event kicked off at 11:00 p.m. and didn’t end until the sun came up. The party featured live bands, light shows, a huge bonfire, and Classic Sci-Fi movies shown in the Catawampus bus. It’s always an interesting night at the Art Park and the afterparty was no exception.

Eno Piece Lincoln Street_1484

Cata Bus_8134

While bicycling around the streets of Detroit on this busy weekend, I also managed to pick up number 26 of 3,000 of the “Stay Classy” black tie art pieces that were scattered across the city. They seemed to be everywhere I went on Saturday and most were gone by late Sunday afternoon.

Blk Tie_1501

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There are plenty of fish available in Detroit. On my bike rides along the Detroit River and the edges of the city’s island park, Belle Isle, I’ve seen and talked to quite a few fisherman that are reeling in bass, perch, walleye and many other types of fresh water fish. That makes sense because the fish-packed Detroit River flows freely past the city and its famous park.

In addition to those being caught along the river, there are plenty of other species that people in Detroit may not know about, but are easy to spot. The fish I’m referring to come in a variety of colors and sizes. In a few cases they are laid out on a platter, ready to be served.

Most look happy, as if they are jumping out of the water to enjoy the bright sunlight. Others are simply floating along, blowing bubbles between the reeds in the water, with eyes wide open. A few have huge lips and wide mouths, and look as if they are singing something from an Italian opera.

There are a few low-key, modest looking fish that appear to be just floating along, living the carefree life. No matter the species or type of fish I’ve seen beyond those being hooked by the fishermen, all are quite colorful. Their scales are bright green, deep blue, glowing red, or various other eye-catching, shimmering colors.

Amazingly, you don’t have to explore the riverfront to see the unique fish I’m referring to. The colorful, happy looking fish are painted on the sides of bait shops, fish markets and restaurants along most major commercial streets in Detroit. Yes, there are plenty of fish in Detroit, and not all come from the Detroit River.



"Let's party, I have my bottle!"

“Let’s party, I have my bottle!”

Looks to be signing away

Looks to be signing happily

Lost in the reeds

Lost in the reeds

From Detroit's Chinatown (if there was one)

From Detroit’s Chinatown (if there was one)

This guy has a casual look about him

This guy has a casual, bored look about him

Ready for the dinner table

Ready for the dinner table

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