Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Campus Martius shows evidence that Detroit is changing

It’s no Central Park. It’s not even Grant Park. But for anyone who recalls Detroit of the 1980s as a wasteland lacking any public attractions (short of Tiger Stadium or Greektown, which are the only places I ever went), Campus Martius Park in the hub of downtown is proof that today’s Detroit ain’t the same ole’ Detroit.

Wander down there on lunch and it actually feels like you’re in…a city. There are people there, doing stuff like eating food. And listening to live jazz music. And chatting by the fountains. Not once have I seen anyone get shot, and I go there pretty regularly.

In the summer, they roll out a layer of thick sod to create a large lawn in front of the sound stage. And there are patio tables and chairs all around the place to sit and have a sandwich. In the winter, the sod disappears and is replaced by the skating rink you’ve probably heard about. If you can’t make it down this summer for one of the free concerts, you should try to get down there this winter when the rink is open. The atmosphere at night, with music playing over loud speakers that stand over the ice, is not what most people imagine when they think of “Detroit after dark”.

Signs at the park announce Campus Martius as being “Detroit’s Gathering Place”. In time, it may well be. I just think it’s cool that someone thinks Detroit even needs a gathering place again.