The Detroit flag is a reflection of the countries that have once ruled the city. The Fleur-de-Les represent France, the lions are England, and there are 13 stars and 13 stripes for the first States.
The name Detroit was derived when the British, in 1760, shortened the French name, Fort Ponchartrain du Detroit. The city was first settled by 52 French Canadians sixty years prior.
Geographically, Detroit is in a spectacular location. It sits on the Detroit River that connects Lake Erie to Lake Huron via Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River. This key spot allowed Detroit to become a powerhouse of shipping, manufacturing, and culture. The “Motor City” was once referred to as the “Paris of the West”. The decline of the auto industry caused economic problems. In the previous decade, Detroit lost 25% of its population, the city unemployment rate is 15%, and the poverty rate today is still well above 30%.
Despite that, Detroit is said to be recovering, although very slowly. The auto industry is showing signs of life. The Detroit Lions football team and Detroit Tigers baseball team have constructed new downtown stadiums. Historic hotels have reopened. Within the last 10 years Detroit has hosted the NCAA Final Four, the MLB All-Star Game, Superbowl XL, and the World Series. Compuware built their world headquarters and Quicken Loans has consolidated 4,000 employees inside the city. Ford, GM, and Chrysler continue to be large employers.
On July 20, I left my hotel near the airport in Romulus and cycled through Detroit to the privately owned Ambassador Bridge. I cycled without incident through “Little Mexico”. I had to hire a taxi-cab to drive me across the bridge to Canadian Customs before I could begin cycling across Ontario. I posted four pictures that night;
My blog that night focused on my interactions with the taxi-cab driver and the Canadian Customs Agent. A few days later I received two comments from someone identified as “Stylin, but written in very different styles, leading me to believe that it was two different people. Both comments were highly critical of my posting that night, and defensive of the City of Detroit. The comments accused me of posting “Detroit porn” which I deduced to be pictures of abandoned, burned-out, and/or derelict buildings that may have been taken years ago and are now used to denigrate Detroit. It was also said that I was critical of hard-working people, Homeland Security regulations, and the “boarder” crossing personnel of Detroit. I was admonished to stop being unfair to Detroit.
Below is one of the comments from Stylin, in its entirety;
“Sounds like a poorly planned trip. It would have taken a minute to check the Adventure Cycling Association’s website search funtion (ahead of time) to determine the proper, safe and dignified way to access the Detroit/Winsor International Boarder Crossing, with a bike in tow. Or maybe you could have just stopped in the information center and asked the person behind the desk.
Oh, but maybe that’s way too much like right and not sensational enough for your writing purposes. BTW: that gruesome murder the cab driver told you about involved a suburbanite man who gunned down a couple in their suburban (Allen Park) home, dismembered their bodies, drove 15 miles to an Eastside Detroit canal and dumped their body parts in the river. I don’t think anyone would brag about such a horrible tragedy. You are seemingly misunderstood about his communication of the information. FYI: Cab drivers (in general) are subject to car jacking and armed robberies, so I’m sure he had no reason to “seemingly brag” about harm imposed upon another human being.
Hopefully your next report will come across a lot more authentic and positive in nature or was it your intention to put down Detroit, its boarder crossing personnel, homeland security regulations and hard working people.”
At first I had no idea why I would receive such negative comments and I went back and read my original post. The only legitimate concern I saw was that the cab driver may not have been bragging. The word “bragging” is definitely my opinion. But I could see no reason for the vast majority of all the other accusations.
Then I remembered that I did receive and post a comment from someone that I recognized and it included a link to a book published in 2012, by two French photographers, titled “The Ruins of Detroit”. I believe the commenter, Stylin, may perform Internet searches for this link, and then defend Detroit. That is the only logical explanation I can come up with. And it certainly is my fault that I did not review the link before allowing it to appear in my blog. My only excuse is that my 4G signal was horrible in Ontario and opening large picture files was impossible.
I have since reviewed that link and I include it here, not to put down Detroit, but as part of a discussion. I will say that I find the photos stunning for two reasons; 1) that such beautiful architecture has deteriorated so badly, and 2) at how beautiful it once must have been.
I hope Detroit continues to recover. I would like to see impoverished neighborhoods everywhere, in every city (including my own), regain strength and vitality. In 1805 a terrible fire burned Detroit to the ground. The two Latin phrases on the Detroit flag reflect the sentiment of the Detroit residents at that time;
Speramus Meliora: “we hope for better things”.
Resurget Cineribus; “it will rise from the ashes”.