Five years ago I spent a weekend in Detroit. My friends waved me off, hoping that I’d return with more than a toe tag. I returned to Detroit in 2015 to be surprised how good the city is now looking. My first stop was the Detroit Institute of Arts, followed by a stroll down Woodward Avenue, then a trip into downtown.
The DIA was my first stop in Detroit. I always seek out major art venues, and I’ve been here before. It does not disappoint.
Founded in 1885, the gallery moved to the current address on Woodward Avenue in 1927. Many major galleries have vast, expansive entrances which have long been shuttered for a smaller entrance of more recent vintage. The Albright-Knox in Buffalo comes to mind – they have a magnificent entrance facing the park, which is unused.
Here in Detroit, the massive original entrance remains in use.
The Detroit Industry fresco cycle was completed by Diego Rivera in March of 1933. It is one of the most famous works in the gallery. It is considered the finest example of Mexican mural art in the US, and encompasses all four walls within the gallery.
The DIA is located at 5200 Woodward Ave in Detroit, closed Mondays.
There’s lots to see and do in Toronto, some off the well worn tourist path. Sherbourne Street stretches from Bloor to the lakeshore (where it’s called “Lower Sherbourne”. I took a stroll from Carlton Street to Richmond.
Located on the northeast corner, Paroisse du Sacre Coeur was built in 1936, despite looking significantly older. The building was expanded in 1951, and remains an active French language church.
Located on the southwest side of Sherbourne, St Luke’s United Church. Opened in 1887 as Sherbourne Street Methodist, later Sherbourne United. This church amalgamated with Carlton United to form the present entity.
One of Toronto’s oldest parks, Allan Gardens is situated between Carlton, Sherbourne, Gerrard and Horticultural streets. The conservatory was built in 1910 and is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act.
Allan Gardens has had significant changes over the years, including two wings to the conservatory. There was a massive fountain in front of the conservatory which has long been lost to history.
In 1902, the Toronto Burns Monument Committee gave the city a life size statue of Robbie Burns which still stands. Located midway down Sherbourne Street, the statue faces into the park.
John Ross Robertson was a philanthropist and publisher who lived in this house from 1881 – 1918. He published the first school newspaper, was city editor and The Globe and later founded The Daily Telegraph. In 1876 he founded The Evening Telegraph which became on of Toronto’s most influential newspapers.
The exotic purple and red True Love Cafe, located at Sherbourne and Dundas. They have an extensive reasonably priced menu, and acoustic jams on the weekends. A large space that’s good for the neighbourhood.
Located just south of Dundas Street, this mansion was derelict for many years. Dating from appoximately 1872, it housed William Dineen, a prominent furrier. As the neighbourhood declined, it became a rooming house, and eventually was an empty, boarded up shell. The absentee landlord applied for a demolition permit, which was denied, and the building received heritage status.
The home has been restored within the last five years, but remains vacant.
Toronto has many buildings similar to this in various states of repair. Although most still have residential occupants and businesses at ground level, this location has been abandoned for years.
A 2008 Toronto Star article refers to the area as “skid row”. Even today, this area is laced with trendy boutiques and million dollar condos within sight.