Detroit: A Photo Journal

May 23, 2017

wall mural detroit

“We’ve been considered many things: a city in decay, a city in distress and without hope. However, we have never given up and we never say die. We are born fighters, we rise from the ashes. We are a community that believes in our future despite whatever anyone throws against us. We are Detroit.” – Fel3000ft

Detroit has gotten a bad rap. People outside of Michigan (and some in the state) have a misconstrued idea of the Motor City, people often ask “Is it as bad as everyone says?”, “Will I be in danger?”, “Is it safe to walk around?” or “Is it scary?”. Come on people, get it together. Detroit is a large city which means there is crime, there are areas that are dangerous and you should definitely use common sense like you would when visiting any other city or country. 
This city has an expansive rich history that has been scathed by its crime, mismanagement, and bankruptcy. Detroit is done with this narrative. While people have been busy trash-talking Detroit, listening to the stereotypes and avoiding the city altogether; Detroiters have been busy quietly picking up the pieces and rebuilding the city from the inside out. Don’t believe me? Take if from the NY Times who listed Detroit as one of the top 52 spots to visit in 2017 labeling it as “A comeback city set to make good on its promise.”

Our Day Trip to Detroit

I grew up in Lapeer, Michigan with is only an hour or so away from Detroit. When visiting Michigan in April my cousin and I decided to take a day trip to the Motor City. I received some recommendations from some Detroiters and we headed out. 


Our first stop was some breakfast at The Hudson Cafe which is right downtown. We parked a couple blocks away on the street and walked to Woodward Ave. We had to wait around 30 minutes to get a table, so we visited some shops downtown. 

detroit buildings

detroit church detroit buildings

Belle Isle

During my many trips to Detroit I have never visited Belle Isle (a 192-acre park) and I made it a priority this trip. While visiting Belle Isle I especially wanted to visit the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservancy. It is the oldest continually-running conservancy in the United States, opening in 1904.  It is divided into five distinct sections: Palm House, the Tropical House, the Cactus House, a sunken Fernery, and the Show House. It was originally called the Albert Kahn Conservatory but was dedicated to Anna Scripps, a Detroit News Heiress in 1955 after she donated her extensive orchid collection. 

Belle Isle also hosts the Belle Isle Aquarium, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, and the Belle Isle Nature Center. 

In the summer, stroll or jog along Belle Isle and get terrific views of downtown Detroit and Windsor, Ont. You can get there by crossing the MacArthur Bridge, which is about 3 miles east of Detroit’s downtown.

belle isle conservatory

conservatory detroit detroit conservatory detroit conservatory detroit conservatory conservatory greens botanical leaves

cactus conservatory detroit

Detroit view from Belle Isle


Stop Trump Sign

The Eastern Market

The Eastern Market is located about 1 mile northeast of downtown Detroit. At the heart of Eastern Market is a six-block public market that has been nourishing Detroit since 1891. Every Saturday it transforms into a vibrant marketplace with hundreds of open-air stalls offering great selections of fruits, veggies, fresh-cut flowers, locally produced specialty food products, and pasture and/or grass-fed meat. 

Many Detroiters say they buy their entire week’s worth of food at the market, partly because there are few  grocery stores within the city limits. Unfortunately, we went later in the day on a weekday, which means everything was closing down for the day. We visited an antique shop and walked around checking out all the great street art. 

eastern market

bbq detroit wall mural detroit wall mural detroit detroit vs. everybody eastern market

chicken mural detroit


detroit graffiti

eastern market

After our time at the Eastern Market, we headed over to Corktown. 

Corktown is the oldest surviving neighborhood in Detroit and is located just west of downtown Detroit. The Great Irish Potato Famine of the 1840’s resulted in a massive influx of Irish immigrants to the United States and Canada. Many of these immigrants came to Detroit and settled on the west side of the city with the majority of them coming from County Cork, so the district became known as Corktown.Due to some recent developments in the last 3 years, the area has seen an influx of hipsters. Buzzfeed even dubbed Corktown the most hipster spot in Michigan.
We checked out Astro Coffee which is known as the first coffee shop in Detroit to get a proper pour over. I also hear that they have an awesome Egg Sandwich. We got some coffees and an amazing piece of chocolate banana bread. 
Astro Coffee in Detroit

John K. King Used and Rare Bookstore

John K. King is Michigan’s largest used and rare bookstore which houses over a million books. The store was established in 1965 by John K. King and moved twice before finding its current home in an old glove factory. Customers have access to all four stories of the building where you can find books on almost any subject. All of the books besides the rare collection are completely uncomputerized, but each floor has a manager that is responsible for knowledge and maintenance of the categories held there. We spent around an hour wandering the floors and mazing through the aisles and could have easily spent the whole afternoon, but we were politely kicked out at closing time (5:30 p.m.) 

John K.King Books John K. King Books

After our time at John K. King Bookstore, we headed over to Midtown for some eats. We stopped in at the Jolly Pumpkin Brewery for some sour beer and tasty eats.

Midtown is regarded by many as the safest neighborhood in Detroit. Midtown is north of Downtown Detroit and a cultural hub. It is home to 80 restaurants, 13 theaters, 12 galleries, 8 museums, and 2 historic inns. It is also home to the Detroit Institute of Arts and Wayne State University. We stopped in at the Jolly Pumpkin Brewery for some dinner and sour beers. 

Jolly Pumpkin Detroit

We headed back home after our time in Midtown, but wish we would have had more time to visit more spots in Detroit… guess we will just have to make another trip next time we are in Michigan. 

NY Times listed Detroit as one of the top 52 spots to visit in 2017 labeling it as "A comeback city set to make good on its promise."

More about Eemma Iseman

    1. These murals are so cool! Loved how you showcased a familiar city in a new light. I used to live in Toledo, OH but never got a chance to visit Detroit except catch flights from there:-)

      1. Thanks Paroma! There is a lot of great stuff happening in Detroit, if you ever get the chance to visit again, you definitely should!

    1. Detroit looks very nice! To be honest, just like you said people keep talking but bad that city is and no-one wants to visit! But when I look at your photos looks so much different than I thought it would. The streets looks cleaner that NY, the art on the wall is fabulous and they have nice beer garden! Thank you for sharing it !

    1. We went to Detroit a few years ago and had a great time! You’re right, many people were asking us why we are going but I feel like any big city, there are good and bad areas. Great post highlighting all the good stuff!

      1. Glad you were able to visit! Are there any places I missed on this post that you would recommend? Thanks for sharing!

    1. This seems like a cool town to visit! I also saw this city in that New York times Article. Adding this to my US destinations list! Thanks

    1. I’ve been to Michigan quite a few times, but never Detroit. I love the colorful murals, they look so neat!! I’ll have to make it up there some day 🙂

    1. GREAT photos! I love all the street art! SO fun! I never been to Detroit, unless the airport counts! ha!

    1. I have distant family living in Detroit for years now who have been telling me to visit. I think after looking at your photos, i will. Looks great.

    1. Looks like some great Street art in Detroit and COFFEE TOO? Great. I’ve always wanted to visit Madonna’s Hometown !

    1. Your photos look so nice! Never thought that Detroit has so many cool places to visit! I will add it on my list of US destinations for sure! Thank you!

    1. Your photos are stunning and really capture the rich culture of Detroit. I hope I get to visit someday

    1. I have to admit I have only ever heard negative things about Detroit, but your story makes it sound like a pretty cool place to explore. I’m loving all the colourful street art and the market and bookshop sound like places I’d love to visit!

    1. Wow- great post! I love your attitude and outlook about people getting real. The last time I went to Detroit was for a Dead Mouse concert and we made a weekend out of it. Had a great time! Next time I might check out that huge park – Belle Isle. (Also *loved* your stop sign photo!)

    1. It really is sad that once a city has a bad reputation it is really hard to change that in people’s minds. I think Detroit has really changed. Looks like there is lots to do now. The street art looks pretty impressive too.
      Anisa recently posted…Brooklyn Graffiti and Street Art TourMy Profile

    1. Great pictures! I appreciate you highlighting the beauty of a city that gets a lot of negative press. I live in Baltimore which as has a negative reputation. This inspires me to write a post about its beauty to counteract this perception. You did a great job and now I want to visit Detroit. 🙂

    1. Man, Michigan has been a hot state to talk about lately, and I’ve had so many people suggest visiting Detroit that I might have to now. Like a previous commenter said, I’ve also heard a lot of bad things about Detroit and put it low on my list of US cities to visit. But your photos of the area and everything the locals are doing to revitalize it are super convincing that I should reconsider and move it up! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Great choice with the Hudson Cafe! I used to go there all the time when my boyfriend lived in Detroit, but it’s so hard to get a table on the weekends now. I’ve been craving their incredible pancakes a lot lately though, so I might have to just suck it up and wait it out one day.

      1. Thanks Kris! We had the oreo pancakes when we were there. They were amazing. I’ve been there a couple times and always go back whenever we are in Detroit! The wait wasn’t too bad, we just put our name in and walked down the street to check out some shops. It can be rough if you are super hungry though!

    1. Dude, this post is so great! Weirdly, I knew that Detroit had a bad rap but I’ve still always wanted to visit. I’m a sucker for anywhere with used bookstores and street art 🙂 And I REALLY love that Stop Trump sign.

      1. Thanks Lauren! You would love it! There is such great street art, which I know you love! I love the sign too and had to slip it in there. lol

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