Monday, September 21, 2009

Detroit’s No. 1 improvement: the RiverWalk

The Foxtown improvements in Detroit are sweet; most of us have seen them first-hand when we hit a ball game. Everybody’s read about or even experienced the new casinos. And I’ve made no secret that Campus Martius Park ranks as one of my favorite improvements downtown.

But the most incredible difference between Detroit today and Detroit of the 1980s is the RiverWalk, a stretch of land along the Detroit River that has gone from being nearly off-limits to one of the city’s greatest attractions. It seems like it’s been slow to grab the attention of suburbanites like us, but for anybody who hasn’t been down to the river lately, make a point to visit before winter arrives.

RiverWalk stretches all from the Joe Louis/Hart Plaza area to the Belle Isle Bridge, although there are certain portions that are still being finished. In fact, one of the major sections soon-to-open is technically a DNR-managed State Park, and will feature areas of wildlife and nature exhibits that showcase the animals and plant life that dominated the land when Detroit was founded over 300 years ago.

Even though this new section is fenced off at the moment, I checked it out recently. It’s impressive what the Detroit River Conservancy has been able to do down there. It’d be a great way to spend an hour or two. Kage Day Trip #1: Head downtown late morning one weekend and park near the RenCen. Walk for a while along the river and wind up at one of the bars nearby to watch a Michigan or Lions game. (Try the River’s Edge Grill near the RenCen.)