10 Reasons Why Detroit Will Prove Critics Wrong

Politics and finances may have dominated the news in Detroit so far this year, but there’s much more to know about the city in 2013. Here’s 10 reasons why Detroit is worth believing in this year.

10. Light rail is coming to Detroit

In January, US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a federal commitment of $25 million to the M-1 Rail project, thus tentatively setting construction to begin in the summer for the 3 mile stretch of rail between downtown and New Center. Gone will be the days when Detroit’s only rail transit is a glorified amusement park ride!

9. Detroit inspires the world’s music

Though Diana and Stevie aren’t at the top of the charts, Motown lives on in hip hop, pop and R&B music every time you hear the likes of Beyonce and India.Arie. This sound is inherently tied to Detroit and people know it. Next time you’re playing DJ at a party, put on “Baby Love” and count how many people don’t sing along. My prediction: zero. If it’s more than that, you might want new friends.

8. Detroit is a living museum of 20th Century architecture

Perhaps no where else in the world can one so easily access some of the greatest pieces of early 20th Century architecture than in Detroit. You can literally walk into the Guardian Building - a world-renowned Art Deco masterpiece - and snap a photo, hit the ATM and buy a cup of coffee in less time than it would take to navigate around the throngs of tourists at 30 Rock, let alone the security. I’ll use all that extra time to watch Liz and Jack deal with New York on TV, thankyouverymuch.

7. Buying local is feasible in Detroit - even on a budget!

We all want to reduce emissions, support the economy and buy locally. No other major city in America offers as many opportunities for its residents to buy locally as Detroit does. Detroiters can hit the town in some Detroit Denim and then fend off tomorrow’s hangover with Michigan-made onion rings at Colors restaurant. The buy local movement is not only trendy, it’s fueling part of the city’s comeback.

6. The 2013 Detroit City Council election will be transformative

In past elections, each Detroiter was responsible for keeping track of electing nine members, and each councilor was to be held accountable by the whole city. Coming soon will be councilors who are accountable for a set geographic area containing about 100,000 people each. Hopefully the district-based council will lead to more accessible government, less red tape and - god willing - less hold muzak when you want to get in touch with your local representative.

5. Detroit is the nexus of a massive trade corridor - and a new bridge is coming

Detroit-Windsor is already the busiest border crossing in North America and it’s about to get even more important. Voters in 2012 rejected a proposal to ban new bridges, thereby giving approval for a new border crossing to be built. In 5-10 years, tourists and truckers will have yet another incentive to choose Detroit as a midway stopover point between Chicago and Toronto. In addition to the money and jobs they’ll contribute to the local economy, perhaps they’ll like what they see and decide to stay.

4. Downtown Detroit is booming

Anyone who’s visited downtown Detroit in the last few years can tell you it’s a dynamic place that gets busier by the day, but there’s quantitative data to back it up, too. The New York Times reported in 2011 that in the last ten years, “downtown Detroit experienced a 59 percent increase in the number of college-educated residents under the age of 35,” making it one of the fastest-growing destinations for young professionals in America. Business leaders are following suit as such companies as Blue Cross Blue Shield and Quicken Loans have moved operations from the suburbs to downtown. So go ahead and get that second beer at the Tigers game, it’s more likely than ever you’ll be walking a short trip home from Comerica.

3. Detroit still has countless sustainable neighborhoods

For all the notoriety over Detroit’s vacant quarters, most of the city is still inhabited. Yes, by people. In fact, Detroit is still more densely populated than the oft-lauded “smart growth” cities of Denver, Austin and Portland, Oregon. From Lafayette Park to Woodbridge and Rosedale, Detroit retains a plethora of beautiful, intact neighborhoods that would make great homes for all kinds of families.

2. The Detroit Future City Plan

It may not be a household name yet, but it will be. The Detroit Future City Plan was commissioned by Mayor Bing and is the first plan in Detroit’s history to concede that the city will probably never again contain 2 million people. Having shed the burden of that delusion, the Future City Plan is allowed to dream big and propose truly revolutionary ideas that are unique to Detroit. The plan calls for lining the freeways with mini-forests and small-scale agriculture, encouraging economic growth in the neighborhoods, and an overhaul and upgrade of public transit. If even 10% of the Future City Plan is implemented, Detroit will be put on the map as the most innovative city in America.

1. Detroiters are persistent - and creative

If there’s one thing that defines today’s Detroit residents, it’s persistence. Detroiters are perhaps the most committed people on earth. They’ve weathered the storm, seen it all and have thick skins, yet remain open to new ideas and possibilites. When Tyree Guyton saw his block in near-ruins, he didn’t run away, he turned it into the Heidelberg Project, one of the most famous urban art spaces in the world. There are 700,000 potential Tyree Guytons living in Detroit today, and the world is about to notice them.

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