Revive(D): A present Detroit past

By: Sara Snyder

A photo essay reflecting on the temporality of Detroit’s success and squalor through its representative food spaces.

The Smoked Old Fashioned from the Sugar House in the Corktown neighborhood harkens back to the city's days during prohibition. The bar is named after the legendary Sugar House gang of the 1920s who bootlegged booze over the border from Canada. This bar is one of Detroit's first craft cocktail bars. 

The Smoked Old Fashioned from the Sugar House in the Corktown neighborhood harkens back to the city's days during prohibition. The bar is named after the legendary Sugar House gang of the 1920s who bootlegged booze over the border from Canada. This bar is one of Detroit's first craft cocktail bars. 

Duly's Place Coney Island serves traditional Coney dogs with house-made chili, yellow mustard and onions in Mexicantown. The place has been open since 1921. 

Duly's Place Coney Island serves traditional Coney dogs with house-made chili, yellow mustard and onions in Mexicantown. The place has been open since 1921. 

The seasonal kale salad is one of the most popular dishes at Selden Standard in Midtown.

The seasonal kale salad is one of the most popular dishes at Selden Standard in Midtown.

"The Fist" stands boldly in the middle of Woodward Avenue as a monument to the infamous boxer, Joe Louis. 

"The Fist" stands boldly in the middle of Woodward Avenue as a monument to the infamous boxer, Joe Louis. 

The churros are baked fresh daily at La Gloria Bakery in Mexicantown. 

The churros are baked fresh daily at La Gloria Bakery in Mexicantown. 

This is not a city returning to greatness | It always was.

This is not a city that lost its power | Its people were and are visionary.

This is not a city without conflicting histories | It epitomizes strength and widsom.

This is not a city that chose to fall | It shares a cyclical city tale.

This is not a city without struggle | It ponders whether this revival will fail.

Anthology Coffee finds its home in Ponyride Detroit, a collaborative space to encourage small-businesses to work together to create a stronger city.

Anthology Coffee finds its home in Ponyride Detroit, a collaborative space to encourage small-businesses to work together to create a stronger city.

"Some places will, however, be left behind. Not every city will succeed, because not every city has been adept at adapting to the age of information, in which ideas are the ultimate creator of wealth." -Edward Glaeser

"Some places will, however, be left behind. Not every city will succeed, because not every city has been adept at adapting to the age of information, in which ideas are the ultimate creator of wealth." -Edward Glaeser

House-made syrups sit at the bar at Wright and Company. The bar and restaurant are right around the corner from the Tigers baseball stadium and attract many suburban folks coming to the city for the evening. 

House-made syrups sit at the bar at Wright and Company. The bar and restaurant are right around the corner from the Tigers baseball stadium and attract many suburban folks coming to the city for the evening. 

If Detroit and places like it are ever going to come back, they will do so by embracing the virtues of the great pre- and postindustrial cities: competition, connection, and human capital.
— Edward Glaeser
Selden Standard in Midtown was nominated as the Detroit Free Press Restaurant of the Year 2015.

Selden Standard in Midtown was nominated as the Detroit Free Press Restaurant of the Year 2015.

The Mexicantown neighborhood was established along Vernor Street in the 1940s. 

The Mexicantown neighborhood was established along Vernor Street in the 1940s. 

Longtime Detroit resident and James Beard award-winning chef, Marc Djozlija, opened Wright and Company in 2015 as a place for small-plates and craft cocktails. The restaurant opened in an old jewelry store. 

Longtime Detroit resident and James Beard award-winning chef, Marc Djozlija, opened Wright and Company in 2015 as a place for small-plates and craft cocktails. The restaurant opened in an old jewelry store. 

As a Detroit institution, Eastern Market began in the 1800s to feed hungry families. Today, that mission still guides the market's principles, but it is open to the public Saturdays year round, in addition to Tuesdays and Sundays during the summer and early fall, to experience local artisans and purveyors. 

As a Detroit institution, Eastern Market began in the 1800s to feed hungry families. Today, that mission still guides the market's principles, but it is open to the public Saturdays year round, in addition to Tuesdays and Sundays during the summer and early fall, to experience local artisans and purveyors. 

Slows BBQ was one of the first restaurants in the revitalization of Detroit. Opening in the Corktown neighborhood, the lines are frequently long and a hit with both visitors and locals alike. 

Slows BBQ was one of the first restaurants in the revitalization of Detroit. Opening in the Corktown neighborhood, the lines are frequently long and a hit with both visitors and locals alike. 

Despite the notable African American population in the city, there are few prominent restaurants owned or operated by people of color. The brunch spot is known for their home fries and take on Southern breakfast.

Despite the notable African American population in the city, there are few prominent restaurants owned or operated by people of color. The brunch spot is known for their home fries and take on Southern breakfast.

In the aftermath of "collapse", who’s responsible for a city’s revival?

Is the food only good now because it’s a city of reemerging wealth?

Was it always good and now being perceived as good by those with the authority to say so on a national platform?

The duck confit hash at Dime Store features the famous home fries and Sriracha.

The duck confit hash at Dime Store features the famous home fries and Sriracha.

The St. Elmo cocktail at Wright & Company features Rye, ginger and a burning cinnamon stick.

The St. Elmo cocktail at Wright & Company features Rye, ginger and a burning cinnamon stick.

Selden Standard's craft cocktail menu changes seasonally.

Selden Standard's craft cocktail menu changes seasonally.

The $2 sausage sandwich can be found at Eastern Market Seafood Company. The hand-stuffed sausage comes in mild or spicy.

The $2 sausage sandwich can be found at Eastern Market Seafood Company. The hand-stuffed sausage comes in mild or spicy.

Not every city will come back, but human creativity is strong, especially when reinforced by urban density.
— Edward Glaeser
Duly's Place Coney Island is open 24 hours a day and diners flock to taste the simplicity and history of what used to be. 

Duly's Place Coney Island is open 24 hours a day and diners flock to taste the simplicity and history of what used to be. 

The Spirit of Detroit represents the strength of the city. In the left hand, the statue holds a symbol of God and in the right, one of the family. During major sporting events, residents dress the statue in the corresponding home team colors. 

The Spirit of Detroit represents the strength of the city. In the left hand, the statue holds a symbol of God and in the right, one of the family. During major sporting events, residents dress the statue in the corresponding home team colors. 

While Detroit can still be "walked on and over", the renewal of the city is sill in motion. 

While Detroit can still be "walked on and over", the renewal of the city is sill in motion. 

Selden Standard's long table invites more guests to sit, eat and communicate. 

Selden Standard's long table invites more guests to sit, eat and communicate. 

Selden Standard's grill raises and lowers the grates to garner the best flavor. There are only a handful of these grills available around the country in restaurant kitchens. 

Selden Standard's grill raises and lowers the grates to garner the best flavor. There are only a handful of these grills available around the country in restaurant kitchens. 

Although their mid-western hospitality can be felt throughout the restauran, the Edison lightbulbs resemble a Brooklyn vibe. 

Although their mid-western hospitality can be felt throughout the restauran, the Edison lightbulbs resemble a Brooklyn vibe. 

The passing of time challenges the notion of success and failure as it ebbs and flows delicately through past and present. And while Detroit's present appears hopeful for its future, the past shades the progress of the moment.  These intricate temporalities dance with expectations of those who are 'claiming' the space as their own and those whom have always felt at home in the D.

Watch the film below from April 2015 to take a look at how the city has changed in a few years. Credit: Producer, Shooter

 

P.S. Check out the newest innovation in the Detroit urban agriculture space, Detroit's Agrihood.

Text citation:  Glaeser, Edward. Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.