My Travel Memories: The Return to Detroit and Cincinnati

The first time we visited Detroit, it seemed like a nice enough city.  Of course, looking at the long term, Detroit was about halfway declined by then (Detroit had peaked in the 1950s).  The decline, however, was much more obvious to us in 1987.  Maybe we just visited more obviously declined neighborhoods on this trip, but we found that to be really sad.

Cincinnati was also kind of depressing as well.  In 1980, my mom and I had spent the day at Union Terminal, which was, at the time, a shopping mall.  When we returned in 1987, the mall was closed.  We had, at that point, no idea that three years later Union Terminal would reopen as the Museum Center.  We had had dinner in the rotating restaurant atop the Quality Inn which is now a Radisson in 1980.  That restaurant was closed as well.

I’m hoping to redeem the memory of that trip to Cincinnati, at least, the weekend of the total eclipse in 2017.  We won’t be able to see the eclipse in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, which will be where the eclipse will be total for the longest period, as the trip back to San Antonio will take too much time.  If all goes as planned, we’ll be going up through Memphis and Nashville to Cincinnati and then across to either Kansas or Nebraska, depending on where we can get a room at this point.  Then we’ll come straight back and go back to work and (likely, though the calendar hasn’t been released yet) school the next day.  And we don’t need to stay right on top of the eclipse site, since we’ll be driving.  We can stay a bit out of the way and drive to the eclipse site.  Having our car will also open up more possible places to see the eclipse.  If the place we stay ends up being overcast that day, we can go northwest or southeast until we find a place that’s open.

My Travel Memories: Detroit, Michigan

I’ve been to Detroit twice — once in 1980 and then again in 1987.  The city declined sharply in the seven intervening years.  My impression of Detroit in 1980 was of a nice little city and in 1987, my impression was of an empty little city.  As with Cincinnati, my only pictures of Detroit were from our 1987 trip, so you’ll just have to trust me that in 1980 Detroit was pretty nice.

The one thing I remember about Detroit wasn’t in Detroit proper, it was Deerfield Village in Dearborn.

Greenfield Village is an open-air museum that is part of a complex known as “The Henry Ford.” .he Henry Ford what is unclear.  I get the impression that it’s a ford (as in low-water crossing of a river) named “Henry.” Greenfield Village was dedicated in 1929 at a ceremony that was attended by historical figures including Marie Curie, Orville Wright, and Will Rogers.

Greenfield Village is now home to a large number or historic buildings, including the home of Noah Webster and the bicycle shop of the Wright Brothers.  There is also a reconstruction of Thomas Edison’s laboratory from Menlo Park, New Jersey.  The original laboratory had been destroyed and so the people who created Greenfield Village moved the two remaining buildings and measured the foundations on the site so that they could recreate the other buildings as closely as possible.

I am not under any kind of misapprehension that the 1880s were anything like a “golden age.”  Too many of my relatives and ancestors were living in tenements for me to do that.  As a result, some of the “let’s go back to a simpler time” stuff is lost on me. It wasn’t actually simpler. However, as an educational destination, Greenfield Village is fun, particularly as a way to look at the work of the innovators of the past and looking forward to the innovators of the future. At 90 acres, it’s also a nice place to get some fresh air.

I went to Google Maps to see if it would look like I remember, and I discovered that they let the Google Street View car into the museum.  This is another one of those situations where the amount of time it’s been since my last visit has come back to me.  This coming August will be 29 years since my last visit, which I remember was a nice temperature, but was very sunny.  It’s not nearly as sunny as I remember, because the trees are nearly 30 years older than they were my last visit.

The sidewalks of Greenfield Village were designed with accessibility in mind, but some of the historic buildings have steps and the people of The Henry Ford, perhaps to preserve the landmark nature of the building, have not installed ramps.  On some of the buildings, however, the presenter can come outside to do his or her presentation so that wheelchair users can get the information even if they cannot come into the buildings.