Monday, August 15, 2016

We Are Surviving in the D!

Campus Martius (inside at the water fountain)


It's been a while since my last post in Living in the D... okay it's been since 2009. A lot has happened in the past 7 years...wow! From my experiences, I was going through a slight despair with everything that was going on. We had elected officials charged and arrested for fraud and a failing school system which is still in a fight of its existence. We have a new mayor and lights in the neighborhoods and houses being razed, but he's going through some issues with the Feds investigation of the blight removal program. On the flip side to positive news, we have the M-1 Railing that's being built along Woodward Corridor as well as the new Detroit Events and Entertainment Center (home of the Red Wings). Also, we have all the construction that's going on in Midtown...oh, Whole Foods Detroit, Renovation of the Eastern Market, the new State ran Belle Isle and the re-opening on the Aquarium. "The Belle Isle Aquarium was designed by famed Detroit architect, Albert Kahn, and opened on August 18, 1904. It is the oldest aquarium in the country" via Belle Isle Conservancy.org and 2 new Meijers in the city. Okay we have progress!!!!

At the time I started this blog, I was unemployed for 3 years, but it was a learning experience and a much needed break for me to reflect. Heck who am I kidding...I'm still reflecting. My mind is always wondering, thinking, optimistic and being creative. 

The photo I have posted on the left was a photo I took inside Compuware 
when I was bike riding around the city back in 2009 during my time of reflection. I was able to experience the city like a child in a candy store. I saw places from a bike that I didn't realize we had especially when driving (I keep my eyes on the road with these sporadic drivers), well that's another story. Okay getting back to my story, this photo is a reminder of the beginning of a resurgence of my city...in my opinion. It was the first new office building construction we had in the city in a while. At the time Borders Bookstore was an anchor store, and Olga's Kitchen was opened (which is now closed...bummer). Now there's Texas de Brazil and Hardrock Cafe is still going strong in business.


Campus Martius during the International Jazz Festival

Oh...as I'm typing there's so many places that's popping in my head that has happened. We now have 2 majors news stations downtown. WDIV Channel 4 has always been in the city, but WXYZ Channel 7 now have a studio downtown that debuted in February 2016 "inside the Qube building (formerly the Chase Bank building) on Woodward Avenue along Campus Martius Park" via http://www.wxyz.com/news/new-wxyz-downtown-detroit-studio-to-debut-thursday-during-7-action-news-at-noon. Also, just a host of restaurants and places to socialize. I will focus more on that later on.

With the Super Bowl XL in 2006 was like a breath of fresh air the city needed to start moving forth. Reflecting back, I'm glad I didn't leave the city. I won't lie, there were times whereas I was researching other places outside of Michigan to relocate, but my husband didn't want to hear any of it. I wanted to experience other places to possibly have the feeling that I miss being in Detroit. I get to experience that feeling by listening to others who have left and come back to visit about missing the people and the city itself. I won't lie though, the auto insurance is killing my pockets for a vehicle that is 13 years old. I get pissed off hearing how much lower the insurance is for others outside of Detroit zip code. That itself is a crime. 

Well with the resurgence of our downtown and midtown area, I'm looking forward to the growth to come back into the neighborhoods. As I hear that housing is being bought up in record numbers, I can't help but ask when families were going through foreclosures, why wasn't there any provisions of how to protect the properties from vandalism. I've seen homes that were immaculate fall into decay almost overnight. In the end the banks/mortgage companies have won because since they insured the homes in case of foreclosures and now they are making money by funding the renovations (smart move on their part). I'm all about prevention, but that's another story.


Okay I'm done with the rambling, but I have a new sense of hope and enthusiasm of seeing the once abandoned beautiful architecture once again breath new life. In closing of how we are surviving in the D, I can only hope that everyone and every culture can co-mingle without greed, but being able to afford and enjoy all that the city offers. 

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Dave Bing Remains the Mayor of the "D"

Updates since this posted - Well Dave Bing didn't run for another term as Mayor (I guess you can say he's retired). Charles Pugh is a former council president who was on the run when a scandal broke out accusing him of sexual encounters with a student he was a "role model" for. Now he has been formerly changed for sex with a then 14-year old young man (sad). Lastly, Gary Brown has managed to stay on the city's payroll. He has been appointed Water and Sewerage Director of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) in October 2015.



Dave Bing ....................Charles Pugh..................Gary Brown
Photos Courtesy of the Detroit News

The polls have closed and the final results are in. Dave Bing is the Mayor of Detroit for the next four years. According to the Detroit News, Dave Bing "garnered 58 percent (70,060 votes) to Barrow's 42 percent (50,757 votes)". So what does this mean for the future of Detroit, well who knows. Will there be any more scandals while he's in office or will Detroit quietly regain its splendor it once had? In my opinion, I don't think it ever lost its splender per se, but people lose respect of their city when respect isn't given to them by their elected officials. Will they ever learn to listen to the people instead of trying to gain a dollar from a signature? The word on the street as far as Bing's Steel Company, he has filed for bankruptcy. It hasn't been reported because it had to assured that he would win the seat to the office.

Speaking of respect, well the votes have been calculated for the new city council and we have five new faces. Charles Pugh (former anchor of Fox 2 News Detroit) will serve as the new council president, and Gary Brown (the former official fired by Kwame Kilpatrick) will serve as the council president pro tem. The other seven members are Saunteel Jenkins (former council chief of staff for the late Mary Ann Mahaffey), Ken Cockrel (re-elected), Brenda Jones (re-elected), Andre Spivey, James Tate, Kwame Kenyatta (re-elected), and JoAnn Watson (re-elected).

So it's going to be interesting to see how this new group of people mixed with some of the old will work together to supposedly better Detroit. I say supposedly because our elected officials seem to forget once they are in office who they work for.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

There's Still Goodness in the D

Photo by Sonia

It's been a while since I've posted on my blog. There's so much that has happened and still happening not only in the "D", but everywhere. With Detroit being the largest metropolitan city in Michigan, everything that takes place here has the largest impact on Michigan as a whole.

Let's see, we have been the target on one of the largest scandals, well let's say several: The Kwame Drama which has many subcompartments with the major stories being "The Tammy Greene Saga", and "Kwame not paying back restitution to the City of Detroit", Mayoral Race well the lack of with Mayor Bing not debating his challenger Tom Barrow (I just read an one hour interview will be tape....hmmmm), The Big Three Employment / Unemployment and selling cars, The City Council Drama, Monica Conyers...well she's being quiet right now along with Sam Riddle, The Cobo Hall's secret dealings of a public real estate without the vote of the public, The Water Department and the interseptor, Detroit Public Schools bankruptcy which needs to be audited and more people in the higher seat need to go to prison, and that's just the start. Let's also add the foreclosure rates, and unemployment rates that is still going up, and everyone moving out of Detroit. Heck, my neighbor said it was hard for him to get a moving truck because they were all taken. Everyone involved in Detroit politics wants to say the city is broke; I beg to differ especially with the case of the Gateway Project, and where has all the funds from the stimulus packet that Detroit specifically was supposed to get?

Despite all of this drama, I still try to find goodness that's going on. The news media concentrate on the so-called high crime that's going on, but when you compare the figures with the rate of people who live in the city, the rate isn't high...it's average. When you constantly hear negativity and told that Detroit is Bad, you truly begin to feel it when it may not be the case for you. Sometimes it makes me wonder about the propaganda of Detroit, but to get an understanding about how some people in the state of Michigan feel about the residents of Detroit, please visit the comment section of any article that's dealing with Detroit issues on the Detroit Free Press website especially at www.freep.com or the Detroit News at www.detnews.com and view some of the heartfelt comments. It's quite amazing at times.

Well, I had some items to get off my chest and I'll say from this moment on, I will be diligently searching for that positive news that's going on in my city for those who are tired of the same ole drama that is printed and shown constantly in the media about Detroit.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Neighborhood Grandeur


Photo by David Guralnick / Detroit News

Woodward Avenue: A journey through 200 years
Neighborhood Grandeur


Michael H. Hodges / The Detroit News

As in so many things, Henry Ford was ahead of his time.

Or perhaps we should credit Clara Ford, not her husband, since everyone agrees that Clara was always the one most interested in their homes.

It was 1908 when the Fords and their teenage son, Edsel, became one of the very first families to move into the new "subdivision" we know as the Boston-Edison Historic District, their surprisingly modest 7,500-square-foot "Italian Renaissance Eclectic" house rising up among the empty fields.

At the time, a man of Ford's considerable -- and soon-to-be stupendous -- means had any number of spectacular possibilities to choose from along Woodward Avenue, whether Virginia Park or East Ferry Avenue, both elegant side streets, to one of the great mansions on the increasingly congested thoroughfare itself.

But perhaps the Bill Gates of the early 20th century was driven by that age-old real-estate mantra: location, location, location.

The house on Edison Street, notes Jerald Mitchell, the Boston-Edison archivist who's lived in Ford's home since 1985, was about equidistant from Ford's Piquette plant, where he built the Model T, and the Highland Park factory, which opened in 1910. "He didn't care to commute," Mitchell says.

The prosperity that Detroit generated in the early 20th century was, of course, dizzying. Hard on the heels of Boston-Edison came other luxury developments on upper Woodward, including Arden Park, Sherwood Forest and Palmer Woods -- eventually reaching into Bloomfield Hills.
"The wealth grew so rapidly," says Stephen Vogel, dean of architecture at the University of Detroit Mercy, "that the auto barons kept moving further and further out" to escape congestion and factory smoke.

The city's top architects brought their talents to bear upon these "suburban-style" houses, with their extravagant detailing and extensive maids' quarters, including Albert Kahn -- who would later design the paradigm-busting Ford Rouge complex -- and the firm of Malcolmson and Higginbotham, which designed Ford's home on Edison.

The result was a formally gracious neighborhood of arching elms (now mostly replaced by other trees), straight streets edged by sidewalks, and narrow, grassy malls running down a couple of the most spectacular avenues.

The nexus between great wealth and the early auto industry is inescapable when looking at Boston-Edison pioneers.

Several of the Fisher brothers -- think "Body by Fisher" -- had homes there, as did the vice president of Packard Motor Car, the president of Detroit Electric Car (Clara Ford drove one of those), the General Motors treasurer and the presidents of both the Regal and Hupp Motor Car Companies.

Other captains of industry who put down roots in Boston-Edison before the mid-'20s included Sebastian S. Kresge, founder of the S. S. Kresge Co. (forerunner of Kmart), Tigers owner Walter Briggs, and Ernst Kern, the founder of Kern's Department Store.

Tiger base-stealing legend Ty Cobb lived there briefly as would, half a century later, Willie Horton.

And the first permanent conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Ossip Gabrilowitsch -- another long-time resident -- married Mark Twain's daughter. Years later, an unpublished manuscript of "Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Among the Indians" was discovered in their Boston Boulevard West attic, and donated to the Burton Collection at the Detroit Public Library.

Diverse for its time

In any case, it's hard to beat Boston-Edison for luxury, where homes like Edward T. Fisher's Renaissance Revival mansion on West Boston boasts 11 bathrooms.Boston-Edison stood out in other unexpected ways. Almost unique among subdivisions of that era for the super-rich, it had no restrictive covenants governing who was, and who was not, allowed to purchase.

As a consequence, the district from the start included some of Detroit's most prominent families, including Temple Beth-El's Rabbi Leo M. Franklin and Benjamin Siegel, founder of B. Siegel, once the largest women's clothing store in the Midwest.

(In one of those great historical ironies, Ford, the celebrated anti-Semite, was friends with Franklin and presented him with a Model T.)

Jacob Siegel, who launched the American Lady Corset Co. on Fort Street, built his American Eclectic mansion on West Boston in 1917. Interestingly, as a young man living in Washington, D.C., Siegel had witnessed Abraham Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theatre.

'Among the titans'

It all leaves Patrice Merritt, who's lived in Siegel's mansion with her husband for 12 years, the sense she's brushing shoulders with a particularly distinguished group of ghosts. "Every time I drive by various houses, I always think, 'Well, Mr. Kresge would be very proud.' Not a day goes by that I don't think, 'Wow! I'm living among the titans.' "

Of course, residing in palatial splendor has its ups and downs. Merritt laughs. "Don't even ask what our January heating bill was."

And here's luxury for you: The Merritt's house is 7,500 square feet. But it's only got three very spacious bedrooms.

Typical of many of the Boston-Edison manses, the Merritts enjoy the service of an elevator, a central vacuuming system dating to the home's construction, and -- if they wanted to renovate it -- a basement oak spinner with a foot-pedal agitator to help dry just-washed clothes.

"It was the spin cycle of its time," says Merritt, executive director of the Detroit Public Library Friends Foundation.

The Fords only lived in their Edison Street home for about seven years, before amassing 2,000 acres along the Rouge River in Dearborn for their 30,000-square-foot "Prairie Gothic villa," as the American Institute of Architects guide to Detroit puts it.

But while they were still in Boston-Edison, the neighborhood must have had a downright clubby feel for a Ford man.

Horace Rackham, one of the original 12 Ford shareholders, lived down the block in his American Eclectic home built one year before Ford's.

James Couzens, Ford Motor Co.'s treasurer (and later Detroit mayor and U.S. senator), moved into his Tudor Revival on nearby Longfellow Avenue in 1910. Another early Ford investor, Charles D. Bennett, had built his Boston-Edison manse in 1906.

But in the end, the man who upended world industry, suggests Mitchell, was driven out of Boston-Edison by his rising celebrity.

Ford moved, Mitchell says, "principally because of the loss of privacy. People were showing up on the front porch asking for jobs."

Given that they started building Fair Lane in 1909, shortly after moving to Boston-Edison, it's clear the Fords must have been planning the move for some time.

But for the great commoner who'd grown up on a farm, it's hard to shake the sense that something was lost in his retreat from an "ordinary" house surrounded by neighbors to his regal isolation in the Dearborn woods. "They moved to Fair Lane," Mitchell says, "put up gates, and became isolated."

Virginia Park

A teensy historic district of great charm -- it encompasses just Virginia Park from Woodward Avenue to the John Lodge Freeway -- this handsome street, platted in 1893, was one of the first developments to materialize north of Grand Boulevard.

Styles that predominate include Tudor, Arts-and-Crafts and Bungalow, but it's the red-brick Georgian Revivals near Woodward that set the formal tone for the rest of the avenue. Virginia Park had fallen on hard times as early as the Depression, and anyone driving along the grand street in the 1970s would have been dismayed, indeed. But in recent years, many of the homes have been spectacularly renovated, and it still constitutes one of the handsomest, most formal residential avenues in the city.

Sherwood Forest

Tucked away just west of the better-known Palmer Woods, Sherwood Forest is one of residential Detroit's best-kept secrets. Designed to resemble an English village, the neighborhood features winding streets with houses that average about 3,600 square feet. Mostly built in the 1920s, the 435 homes lean heavily toward English styles like Georgian Colonials or Tudors. Flat roofs were strictly prohibited.

Like many of Detroit's oldest neighborhoods for the industrial and business elite, Sherwood Forest was initially restricted to members "of the Caucasian race," though that covenant was thrown out by the courts in 1948.

Palmer Woods

Launched at almost the same time as adjacent Sherwood Forest, Palmer Woods is the leafy subdivision of winding streets and impressive mansions located on the west side of Woodward Avenue just north of Palmer Park.

Built on 188 acres that originally belonged to Thomas Witherell Palmer (who donated the land for the park), a Detroit land developer and businessman who was later Ambassador to Spain, Palmer Woods was laid out by landscape architect Ossian Cole Simonds for those individuals who wanted larger lots and a more "rural" feel than in either Indian Village on the city's east side, or the Boston-Edison neighborhood just south on Woodward.

Style-wise, the area favors Mediterranean, Georgian and Tudor homes.

The architecture

Confused by the parade of architectural style names?

Most extravagant Detroit homes built in the late 19th and early 20th century are "revival" designs -- that is, local takes on Europe's great buildings, which wealthy Americans who'd done the Grand Tour of the old continent came home bent on imitating.

So a Renaissance or Mediterranean Revival was likely built to suggest an Italian villa of centuries past, while Neo-Tudors ape the steeply pitched roofs, narrow windows and sometimes the decorative half-timbering associated with 16th-century English mansions.

Nearly all of the houses in the great historic neighborhoods of Upper Woodward Avenue -- whether Boston-Edison or Palmer Woods -- are "eclectic," however, in that there tends to be a cheerful mish-mash of design elements from different times and countries.

Stephen Vogel, dean of architecture at the University of Detroit Mercy, notes the best homes in these neighborhoods also have rich detailing from the Arts-and-Crafts movement, which trumpeted a return to the handcrafted detailing of the sort that had begun to disappear after the Industrial Revolution.

Michael H. Hodges
You can reach Michael H. Hodges at (313) 222-6021 or mhodges @detnews.com. Visit his blog at detnews.com/architectureblog.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

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313-231-2800

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Detroit's Hidden Gems

Detroit's Hidden Gems Shine On WDIV Local 4

From quaint clothing stores to cool resturants, metro Detroit is full of unique jewels in the form of small, but special, businesses. The Power of 4 has been everywhere uncovering some of our favorite hidden gems. Here's our list, some of which you saw featured on Local 4 during our Super Local Sunday coverage:

The Living Room
3249 12 Mile Road
Berkley
(248) 544-4100

The Dakota Inn
German Restaurant
17324 John R. St.
Detroit
(313) 867-9722

Slow's BBG Restaurant
2138 Michigan Ave.
Detroit
(313) 962-9828

Avalon Bakery
422 Willis St.
Detroit
(313) 832-0008

The Anchor Bar
450 W. Fort Street
Detroit
(313) 964-9127

Cadieux Café Restaurant with feather bowling
4300 Cadieux Rd.
Detroit
(313) 882-8560

Excelsior Boutique Shop
23900 Woodward
Pleasant Ridge
(248) 547-5333

Eph McNally's Sandwich Shop
1300 Porter St.
Detroit
(313) 963-8833

Jean's Hardware Hardware Store
29950 W. 12 Mile Rd.
Farmington Hills
(248) 626-2828

Pewabic Pottery Ceramic/Pottery Shop
10125 E. Jefferson Ave.
Detroit
(313) 882-0954

Hygrade Deli
Retro Diner
3640 Michigan Ave.
Detroit
(313) 894-6620

Rafal Spice Company
Spice Shop-Eastern Market
2521 Russell St.
Detroit
(313) 259-6373

The Fly Trap Finer Diner
22950 Woodward Ave.
Ferndale
(248) 399-5150

City Knits Yarn Shop
3011 W. Grand Blvd. # C9
Detroit
(313) 872-9665

Om Café
Macrobiotic Café
23136 Woodward
Ferndale
(248) 548-1941

Jumps Restaurant
63 Kercheval Ave.
Grosse Pointe

People's Records
615 W. Forest (on corner of Second Ave. in Detroit)
Detroit

Nancy's Whiskey's Pub
2644 Harrison St
Detroit

Karma Teas - Tea Lounge
309 West 9 Mile
Ferndale
(248) 548-1424

Flo Boutique Co.
Clothing boutique
404 West Willis Street
Detroit
(313) 831-4901

Whistle Stop Restaurant
501 South Eton Street
Birmingham
(248) 647-5588

Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum
31005 Orchard Lake Road
Farmington Hills
(248) 626-5020

Punk Fitness at the Belmont
Belmont Bar
10215 Joseph Campau
Hamtramck
313-871-1966

Woodbridge Star Bed & Breakfast
3985 Trumbull Street
Detroit
(313) 831-9668

Citgo Gas Station
460 W Fort St
Detroit
(313) 961-7744

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Health Scare, The Rising Cost of Health Insurance

In recent years, health insurance costs have been rising expeditiously. Who's paying for the cost? Well, you and I. That extra cost out of our pockets, and our livelihood represents some people choosing whether or not to go to the doctor. That represents a lot more undetected illnesses because we can't afford to go to the doctor. That represents untimely deaths due to not being diagnosed early to save our lives. Why should we be put in a position to choose to live or not to live?

As the attached article "National Insurers" talk about the competition between insurance companies to provide medical insurance to Michigan families, have they mentioned what it would cost families who do not have health insurance provided by their employers? I can remember back in 1995, I worked at a novelty company that provided Blue Cross Blue Shield. I believe I paid per biweekly pay period, about $35.00, and my co-pay was $125.00. I shiver when I think how much it would have cost if I had children to add to my policy.

Even now, I have a family member who is paying for her policy because she doesn't have health insurance through a job, and she's retired. She is currently paying $500.00 a month, and that doesn't include her co-pay. That also doesn't include whether she has dental insurance.

So there's a lot to consider with the cost of living and trying to shop for medical insurance such as:

  • What choices do we have when picking a provider?
  • What will happen if we were to lose a job when it comes to taking over the payment for our insurance?
  • Should we choose medical care through an insurance company or investigate discount medical and dental companies?
  • Is it cheaper to go through a discount medical and dental when I have a family to cover?

What do you think about choosing whether to eat or buy your prescription?

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