The Christmas Vacation Days In Detroit

Detroit, Michigan (Map)

Winter 2010.


It has become tradition for Steve, Donnie & I to head over to Detroit and spend a couple of full days over there during each Christmas vacation.

By the time we made it over & into our first building, it was already dark. A late start, getting our motel, buying 40s & eating dinner had squandered our daylight away.

Therefore I had to make the group stand and drink their 40s on the main floor so I could take some night shots.

Unfortunately my camera was clearly having focusing problems.

Inspecting the bottom floor of this metal fabrication operation, there was graffiti and rooms I'd have liked to take pictures of, but they weren't good enough to lightpaint & take the time to shoot long exposures.

As we searched around the building, the only stairs we found up to the second floor were a bit hairy. Both Donnie & I shook the staircase & it seemed safe enough - so we made our way across the hole & up to the second floor.

Steve is usually more concerned when it comes to sketchy high things, but he once again surprised me with his wide stance and firm, calculated steps up the rotting staircase.

Leaving the metal factory, I proposed popping into this random wide-open apartment building & no one had any problem with it. There wasn't anything mind blowing inside, but I'm always overjoyed with seeing the interior of any obscure building.

As we were goofing around & taking group pictures, some dog started to bark from a nearby house & caused quite a racket. We weren't about to have a citizen confrontation over some shitty, burnt-out, 2-storey apartment building. We left as quickly as we could over the fire-rotted floor boards.

As this was our first night, we didn't see the point in withstanding the cold just yet.

We returned to the Leland Hotel, which I've covered here before. The receptionist at the Leland said they were moving towards converting their hotel into an apartment building, so we were thankful to get one last stay.

We woke up and visited the Mark Twain Library, which was Priority #1 on the Xmas to-do list.

Drawing a blank as to what to attack afterward, we were driving down Woodward when I remembered this funny looking building that's been on my to-do list for a long time.

It ended up being monumentally empty and boring.

In addition, we had to pause as we were leaving this one, as there were a couple of hoodlum teenagers creeping around our car & arguing.

If we would have had our car window broken or an altercation because of this place? Thankfully it didn't happen & they moved along within a couple of minutes.

We still didn't have a good target in mind after that empty restaurant, so we went over to this apartment building which I've always wanted to roof for a shot of Fisher Body 21.

I didn't bank on the roof being so soft & there being so many employees in the adjacent lot - therefore I didn't get much of a Fisher Body 21 shot.

We again cut it short this night, but that was influenced by the fact that we were staying at the Milner Hotel.

I have long wanted to stay at this hotel, but the $99/night cost pushed me away. Now that we finally had a room at the Milner, it was easy to come back and relax for the night here, instead of on some abandoned roof.

The Milner Hotel was built in 1917 as the Henry Clay Hotel, a Flatiron-esque building in Detroit.

You can sense the age of the place when you walk out of the lobby & into the trapezoid-shaped elevator.

I fucking loved that elevator.

Later on, I was relaxing by the window as Donnie went exploring & he found this weird half-outdoor staircase from the ninth-floor hallway into ummm, the other ninth-floor hallway?

So I guess if you look at the bird's eye of the Milner, this staircase leads from the normal portion into that gray portion.

Anyway, we followed it and found some room where there wasn't a door & there were only two benches. This was also strange, but the room did afford a nice view of Comerica Park and Cheli's.

Waking up in the morning, I snapped a few more pictures from our window.

You can see that only 3 rooms in the entire hotel have a ledge according to the above picture (you can see one of the other 9th story ledges just across) - which meant that my initial Hotel Milner stay was all that more special.

This is that morning where we went to the brewery & library, before finding ourselves in Delray.

Donnie wanted to shoot some film & I wanted to take a few pictures in this area as well. A Delray furniture factory was lost in the last year & the buildings are growing more & more sparse with every passing year. This is the original area we started visiting in Detroit & it's amazing how much has disappeared in just 7 short years.

I also finally got a stray dog picture while in the neighbourhood.

Donnie tried to whistle him over for a better picture, but my shot shows just about how close he got.

It was nighttime before long & we wanted to take some pictures from a new rooftop. With security driving around the neighbourhood, it was fun to find our way up to the roof without the help of flashlights.

I was drawing a blank on where I wanted to go afterward & wondered if anyone would oppose finally checked out my last non-island Detroit lighthouse.

The Windmill Point Lighthouse was built in the 1930s and it was one of the last traditional lights built on the Great Lakes.

It was windy with sleet battering us at the point of windmills, leading Donnie into joking that every time you visit a lighthouse, the conditions magically turn to stereotypically nasty maritime weather. Thankfully for me, a majority of my lighthouse visits have been during decent weather.

Anyway, the lighthouse park is apparently closed after dark & a border patrol car pulled up & told us we had to go. The agent was really nice & gave me time to take more pictures, but since we had all been drinking 40s, I figured it was best to get away from him quickly.

For dinner, I had long wanted to try Tom's Oyster Bar on Jefferson, for no other reason than that the outside looks nice & that I see the damn place every time I take the tunnel bus. My crab cake was alright, Steve seemed to enjoy his sushi, while Donnie & I enjoyed our Weihenstephaners.

Bonus points have to be given to the staff as we surely weren't dressed for the classy establishment. The bartender didn't seem to care & she even gave us some free champagne after some tool rejected the bottle & she had to drainpour it anyway.

Donnie only had a little bit though, since champagne makes him angry.

We braved the cold this last night as it wouldn't be long before I was back on an airplane.

After drinking at the paint factory where I showered, we luckily found a late night, Shifty McVeigh liquor store that was still open on Grand River. From there, we hit up this old apartment high rise & chilled out in the freezing temperatures.

After a while, we didn't notice the temperature because of the liquor and the elevator room blocking the wind.

Waking at the Shorecrest Motel on Gratiot the next morning, we didn't have to get back home just yet, so we tried one last place that ranked high on the to-do list.

We were successful, but I was damn hungry & tired by this time. Detroit takes a lot out of you in 3 days, to the point where Steve stayed in the car.

Maybe we didn't hit the craziest shit during these few days, but I'd still say they were pretty damn good (and fun as well).


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