Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Statue of Cadillac is a history lesson with some life

Everybody knows what Dodge Fountain looks like, even if you didn’t realize that was its name. (For those who don’t, it’s that huge, round fountain at Hart Plaza. Trust me, you’ve seen it.)

But seeing Hart Plaza through the passenger window is different than walking through it. If you ever get the chance, you’ll find some pretty interesting stuff. Tucked off to the left side of the Plaza (toward the RenCen), there’s a statue of a guy with one foot up on a rock, and one arm holding a flag. It’s a statue of Cadillac, and next to it is a placard that describes the story of Cadillac settling in what is now Detroit. Being a Downriver guy, I found it especially interesting. If you ask me, high school teachers should use sites like this one when teaching kids American history; it makes it feel more real.

Here’s an excerpt from the placard:

After departing Montreal June 5, 1701, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac and his convoy of 25 canoes sailed down this river and on the evening of July 23 camped 16 miles below the present city of Detroit on what is now Grosse Ile. On the morning of July 24, Cadillac returned upriver and reached a spot on the shore near the present intersection of West Jefferson and Shelby. Pleased with the strategic features, the bank towering some 40 feet above the level of the river, Cadillac landed and planted the flag of France, taking possession of the territory in the name of King Louis XIV.”