Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Home flight, Pt. 1

So yesterday, Murphy and I loaded up and headed back home. The weather-guessers at Flight Services promised me nothing worse than broken clouds at 3500 over northern Ohio, with ceilings rising enroute. That sounded good to me so off we went.

Since I had time to kill, and since the weather forecast was only supposed to improve as time went on, I went off to play a bit. Detroit City Airport's controllers have always been friendly on the radio, so why not swing through there?
Here's City Airport (lately renamed after a corrupt former mayor whose name I shall not speak here) in the background, and what's left of a neighborhood below. See where all of the houses used to be? People abandoned them then other people destroyed them, and finally the state or the federal government provided the money to tear them down. Much of Detroit looks like this now. (Click on the pics to enlarge.)
There would have been more pics of Detroit, but I think my camera is trying to tell me that it needs to go back in for some warranty work. It's starting to get wonky and not focusing right. However, this shot of Belle Isle and the Detroit skyline came out passably well. I'm going right down the Detroit River.

And here's another Detroit shot. There's a fire burning there, aka, more urban renewal, Detroit-style.
In front of it, the tall building is the Fisher Theatre, and directly in front of that, the four lighter-colored buildings are the former General Motors headquarters, known today as Cadillac Place. I used to live about a mile from there. Just off to the left is Henry Ford Hospital. The rest is all blight. It was then, and it's worse today. Shame, because it was beautiful once. But then half a century of Democrat rule happened.

Here's the Renaissance Center. Ford Motor Co. financed it's construction and was headquartered there for years. Now GM is headquartered in their old offices.
When I was young and dumb--still in my teens--two equally dumb friends and I went there late one night/early one morning and decided to go up to a top floor and look out. Most of the main tower is a hotel, so we figured we'd go up and find a window. It's all glass, right? Gotta be a window there somewhere. The guest elevators are in the middle core with a security desk in between them all. We waited until the seasoned citizen guard was not looking our way and we dove into an elevator and shot to the top floor, seventy-some stories up. Much to our chagrin, all the rooms are on the outside and they have the windows. But then we heard another elevator coming and we knew that this time in the morning, it could only be the security guard. Quickly we run for the nearest hiding spot--the fire stairs. We ducked into the stairwell as the elevator door opened. After a few minutes of not being found, we congratulated ourselves on outsmarting the "toy cop". Then we tried to get back out and realized that the doors are locked from the stairwell side. The only way out was the bottom floor--all the way down. Damn.

Here's the riverfront, Cobo Arena on the left, Hart Plaza center, and Ren Cen on the right.
A close-up here shows City-County Building in the right (the white building that was also lately renamed for the same corrupt former mayor that the airport was), the People Mover (aka, the Mugger Mover) leaving it to the right, and Mariner's Church in front of that.
This is the church memorialized in Gordon Lightfoot's song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald as the "Sailor's Maritime Cathedral". He did it quite a disservice by calling it "a musty old hall" in the song, but he later visited it and apologized. I've been to one of the annual memorial services there and it's a very ornate and solemn pace, especially on that day as it was packed with ships' officers in their dress uniforms.

Next up, the Ambassador Bridge to Canada.
Then the old Michigan Central Station, once an incredibly beautiful and world-famous train station and office building. Now, like most everything else in Detroit, it is just gutted ruins.

Farther down, we see a ship unloading at Zug Island.
It's the Presque Isle, a thousand-footer. She's unique in that she's actually a tug/barge combination, with the aft house being a huge tug that fits into a notch in the stern of the huge barge ahead, much like the Sarah Spencer a few posts up.

On the Canadian side, we have the Orsula, a 600-foot bulk carrier flagged out of the Marshall Islands. Looks like she's sliding into a slip to take on a cargo of something that someone somewhere wants.
Just downriver, we have the Canadian freighter Catherine Desgagnes, 410 feet long, at a berth.

And farther down, we find the current Bob-lo Island ferry, taking island residents back and forth to the Windsor, Canada dock.
What used to be a really cool amusement park back in the day in now a small development of luxury homes.

The old Bob-Lo boats, still floating derelict just up-river on the American side, would not be impressed.

More later. The real world is calling and I've got things to do now.


  1. Some spectacular pix here; always interesting.

  2. Rev. Paul: Glad you like them. It makes taking and posting them worthwhile.

  3. Great pics and as close to Detroit as I ever want to get...

  4. Old NFO: It was a beautiful city once. And then Democrats happened.

  5. In the first picture, the wing strut is obscuring the very first place my Mom called home. But even if the wing strut were not in the way, Mom's old house would just be a miniscule dot.

    And the house is still there, according to Google Earth. Boarded up, to be sure, but, unlike the dwelling that used to be next door to it, the house still stands.

    It really was a nice neighborhood when Mom lived there 80 years ago.

  6. Anonymous2:55 PM

    Great pictures. Thank-You

  7. Have a great flight home!

  8. The picture of those residential streets is surreal. If the area economy were even modestly vibrant, 21st century George Baileys would love to finance the cutest little houses on those tree-lined streets.

    The MCS reminds me somewhat of the Texas and Pacific Station, which is the western terminus of the Fort Worth/Dallas Trinity Railway Express, and whose upper floors have been converted to pricey condos.

  9. Thanks for the Bob-Lo boat shots.

  10. Great pics Murph!