Our city’s nitty-gritty 

BEST PLACE TO LIVE DOWNTOWN

The riverfront

BEST LOFTS

The Lofts at Rivertown

6533 E. Jefferson, 313-259-0011

BEST APARTMENTS

Riverfront Apartments, 100 Riverfront Dr., Detroit, 313-393-5000

BEST NEW USE FOR TIGER STADIUM

Concert venue

BEST UNSUNG LOCAL HERO

Tyree Guyton and the Heidelberg Project

BEST PLACE TO FIND PARKING DOWNTOWN

Cobo Roof

BEST PLACE TO ENTERTAIN OUT-OF-TOWNERS

Greektown

MOST WALKABLE NEIGHBORHOOD

Royal Oak

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD FOR ARTISTS TO TAKE OVER NEXT

Ferndale

BEST SOLUTION FOR SUBURBAN SPRAWL

Rebuild/redevelop the city

MOST WORTHY CHARITABLE CAUSE

Homelessness

BEST OLD BUILDING

Old Michigan Central Train Station

BEST NEW BUILDING

Comerica Park

BEST BUILDING TO BLOW UP

Renaissance Center

BEST BUILDING TO REDEVELOP

Old Michigan Central Train Station

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD TO BUY A NEW HOUSE

Royal Oak

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD TO BUY AN OLD HOUSE

Indian Village

BEST PLACE TO FIND NATURE IN THE CITY (BESIDES BELLE ISLE)

Detroit Zoo, 8450 W. 10 Mile, Royal Oak, 248-398-0900

BEST ROAD TO MEET A POTHOLE

I-94

BEST CONSTRUCTION SITE

The new football field

BEST NOT-YET-ADDED ADDITION TO DETROIT’S THEATER DISTRICT

A movie theater

BEST ALTERNATIVE TO THE RIVERFRONT FOR PERMANENT CASINOS

Keep them where they are

BEST PUBLIC ARTWORK

Heidelberg Project

BEST PLACE TO SEE OUTDOOR GRAFFITI

Southwest Detroit

BEST PLAYGROUND (BESIDES BELLE ISLE)

Detroit Zoo

BEST COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION

Focus:HOPE

BEST PLACE TO PLAY HOOKY FROM WORK (BESIDES BELLE ISLE)

Any casino

BEST PLACE TO SPOT A LOCAL CELEBRITY

Joe Louis Arena for a Red Wings game.

YOU KNOW YOU’RE A DETROITER WHEN …

• Jokes about Detroit aren’t funny anymore.

• The Cass Corridor is your jogging route.

• The broken windows stop amazing you.

• Wednesday is Metro Times day.

• You own a Navigator and still live with Mom.

• You have a taste for coney dogs.

• You buy a historic house to live in.

• You still root for the sports teams.

• You can dodge potholes without dropping your cell phone.

• You can name the CEOs of all the Big 3.

• You get excited about every new store or business.

• You can’t get to sleep without the sound of sirens.

• You hate the city, but you’ll kick the ass of anyone who disses it.

• You just can’t move away.

• You love Vernor’s and Better Made Chips

• You refer to the city as "the D."

• You use your hand to show people where you live.

• You swim at Belle Isle beach.

• You bitch about the need for mass transit but know deep down you’d never use it.

• You know the given names of all the expressways.

• People get scared when you say you’re from here.

• You pronounce the "s" in "Livernois."

• You have two cars: One for daily use, and one hooptie for extreme occasions.

• You can find your way around without a map.

• You go on a Florida vacation and still return home.

• You have a sharp-ass SUV and a fucked-up house.

• You tell people you’re from Detroit when you live in the suburbs.

• A six-street intersection with a Michigan turn seems logical.

• You think Devil’s Night is celebrated everywhere.

• If it’s less than 10 blocks away, you drive anyway.

BEST PLACE TO IMPLEMENT A "NO CELL PHONES" POLICY

5. Freeways

4. Confessionals

3. Restaurants

2. Cars

1. Movies

BEST-KEPT LOCAL SECRET (BESIDES BELLE ISLE)

10. The arts community

9. Washington Boulevard trolley cars

8. Cass Avenue

7. Wayne State Campus area

6. Rouge Park

5. Detroit Zoo

4. Jimmy Hoffa’s body

3. Chene Park

2. Eastern Market

1. Greektown

BEST MOTTO FOR DETROIT

10. We’re trying.

9. Takin’ it to a whole new level.

8. Welcome to Detroit: Nobody moves, nobody gets hurt.

7. We are the city your parents warned you about.

6. No. 1 in job cuts!

5. Only the strong survive.

4. We lead the nation in orange barrels!

3. It’s not just a town — it’s an adventure.

2. Love it or leave it.

1. Still here after 300 years.

BEST REASON TO MAKE DETROIT THE NEXT "SURVIVOR" LOCATION

5. Because in Detroit, only the strong survive.

4. Detroit’s public bus system

3. Killer Kop Kapital of the World

2. Cass Corridor

1. Plenty of rats to eat.

BEST DETROIT ANSWER TO CHICAGO’S COWS OR TORONTO’S MOOSE

5. Paint the potholes

4. Abandoned cars

3. Stray dogs

2. Sewer rats

1. Tigers

Take me out to the rock show

Best New Use for Tiger Stadium

Concert venue

There’s nothing like old Tiger Stadium: Michigan & Trumbull ... Briggs Stadium ... the Corner ... Hudson’s Building Dilemma for the New Millennium. It’s an abandoned and endangered white elephant with a lush green center and virtually no feasible hope for survival. While the Archer administration trotted out a glossy architectural rendering of a rehabbed loft/retail/recreational facility, the response from the development community has been nonexistent. In the interim, the joint has doubled in flicks as Comiskey Park, Yankee Stadium, and who knows what else. Notwithstanding its value as a movie stand-in, MT readers have chosen concert venue as the best new use for the ballpark. It’s not a bad choice given the recent big-ticket shows such as Three Tenors, Kiss, etc. I still like the idea of turning the joint into a modern-day Coliseum (capitalizing on this Gladiator phenom ... chariot races, minotaurs …). Here’s a better idea: the Dave Matthews Band played Comerica Park last year to rave reviews. The streets of downtown were overrun with 20-something, freshly scrubbed, microbrew-fueled youth running amok in loose-fitting Gap body armor. So let’s move the cellar-dwelling Tigers back to the old stadium, lower the ticket prices, free up the Ilitch crew from those costly loan payments on the CoPa — which they claim prevented them for bidding for any high-priced marquee players for their low-budget team — and let the SFX international entertainment empire take charge of the CoPa. The Ilitch "kids" won’t have to worry about Sumitomo foreclosing on them when the inevitable strike takes place. And besides, concertgoers have no problem paying ridiculously inflated prices for T-shirts and concessions — a perfect fit at the CoPa. Best of all, baseball would once again be played at the Corner. —Casey Coston

Up on the roof

Best Place to Find Parking Downtown

Cobo Roof

Ah, yes, only in Detroit would one of the largest surface parking lots have a spectacular river view (that is, if you’re standing on the roof of your car). I would also note that MT readers voted the Best Spot for Outdoor Sex to be "on a rooftop." As such, the Cobo Roof might very well be considered the best spot for parking downtown and having outdoor sex, for those so inclined. Perhaps, in a nod to Potsie Weber, the line "do you wanna go down to Cobo and watch the submarine races?" will take on new meaning as part of our local lexicon.

Parking occupies a pre-eminent position in Detroit’s unfortunate streetscape. Meter maids are zealots in every sense of the word, and, in our version of "the (un)welcome wagon," most visitors to our city will undoubtedly be hit with a fat parking ticket for their troubles. Why is it that the worst-run big cities always have the best-run parking squads? Moreover, if you want to avoid our parking commandos, awaiting you are acres of pockmarked, overpriced surface lots with ramshackle guard booths scattered all over downtown; their black holes of asphalt devouring any hope of an urban zeitgeist. City planners still adhere to the build-more-garages-and-have-more-spaces school of thought, and new structures are cropping up like weeds these days. This is related to the widen-the-freeways-to-ease-congestion philosophy. Unfortunately, the wider the freeways, the more cars on the road, the more congestion we get. Sort of a downward spiral of crumbling concrete — not unlike the exit from the Cobo Roof. Here’s a suggestion: Why not build structures and freeways and invest in a little good, old-fashioned mass transit? You know, the kind real cities have? Ponder that next time you’re having sex on the Cobo Roof. —Casey Coston

Royal abodes

Best Neighborhood to Buy a House/Most Walkable Neighborhood

Royal Oak

One would suppose that Royal Oak has a walkable downtown (as long as you’re not playing chicken with the trains). But as far as residential neighborhoods go, a sizable portion of Royal Oak consists of a colorless grid of aluminum-sided postwar bungalows (aka "Victory" homes) interspersed with some momentary dwellings of architectural distinction and a surfeit of ersatz-town home-style condos (many of the exteriors of which have languished due to the developer’s financial dilemmas). In any event, Royal Oak certainly warrants being chosen as the best neighborhood to buy a new house, if you’re looking to purchase one of the aforementioned overpriced bungalows or expensive brick condos with weeds for landscaping. The Royal Oak residential real-estate boom caught fire about eight years ago and has yet to cool off, so don’t look for too many bargains. This should really be called "most driveable to," as the true lineage of Royal Oak’s popularity (pedestrian postwar bungalows notwithstanding) lies in its geographic location at the epicenter of metro Detroit’s autobahn system (i.e. I-696, I-75 and Woodward). Just a few feet from your doorstep are the keys to miles and miles of high-speed freeways and eight-lane arteries, eager to whisk you off to exotic ports of call such as Dearborn, Center Line or Auburn Hills. And if you choose to stay home, you have a plethora of theme restaurants, bars, coffee shops and a dwindling selection of retail survivors from which to choose. While the high rents continue to drive many businesses down Woodward to Ferndale (SoRo), the possibility that the liquor license moratorium may soon be lifted has metro Detroit club- and bar-owners licking their chops. Which, in turn, makes bar patrons even more pleased that the town is "most walkable." —Casey Coston

SoRo

Best Neighborhood to Take Over Next

Ferndale

The phrase "fashionable Ferndale" used to be something of a running joke, as a bevy of cut-rate retailers cheesed-up the Nine Mile drag and Sam’s Jams was a lone oasis in the cultural desert of white trash and wigs. Not any more. Taking advantage of the Royal Oak refugees fleeing the high rents, Ferndale has quickly stepped into the breach with a tantalizing mix of hip retail, record stores, nightclubs and better-quality restaurants than its more established neighbor to the North. Galleries have also opened up, Nine Mile was streetscaped to be more pedestrian friendly (although they forgot the trees) and the once-sleepy community is now a destination for thrill-seekers looking for an alternative to the more mainstream Royal Oak scene. MT readers apparently equate such hipster cachet with desirable artist colonies. And, if you consider local indie-rock musicians to be "artistes," Ferndale (second to Hamtramck) probably has one of the highest densities around. Although the home prices have spiked up more than in many other communities, Ferndale has a grip on its senses, and there are still some reasonably priced dwellings to be found. Now if only somebody would do something cool with the Rialto. —Casey Coston

Call it a comeback

Best Solution for Suburban Sprawl

Redevelop/rebuild the city

An idea whose time is ripe. Seems like plenty of us are dreading the day when all the land between Detroit and Ann Arbor becomes one big parking lot. Or how about between Detroit and Port Huron? Detroit and Flint? How many wetlands, farms and forests are we willing to rub out in the name of the American dream? MT readers see the choice clearly: The price of a cozy cottage for everybody supposedly far from the maddening crowd is endless asphalt, strip malls and subdivisions with no relief from endless boredom for anybody.

The real alternative is in the rear-view mirror: Get back to where we once belonged. The wide open spaces of the Motor City (including a ton of possibilities in near suburbs such as Ferndale, Hazel Park, Dearborn, etc.) are calling. As we speak, commercial buildings are being transformed into hip, airy lofts in Hamtramck, Highland Park, Corktown, et al. Townhouses on the model of that downtown oasis, Lafayette Park, are cropping up in Royal Oak, Brush Park, in the Cass and Trumbull corridors. Folks have been renovating great old dwellings in Woodbridge, Boston-Edison, the New Center, Indian Village, etc., for years. And now it all starts to join together, one previously isolated pocket blends into another — so that the city, not whatever’s left of the natural world, becomes the site of continuous development.

Detroit, like Chicago, was once a densely populated metropolis, with plenty of cool stuff happening and lots of variety when it came to social contacts. It seems to be coming back, but we need more than a change of attitude about sprawl to make the transition. For one thing, we need regional mass transit, with easy access for everybody to all parts of the greater metro area. But we also need a sense of limits: Beyond this point, no more destruction — and the city as our new frontier. —George Tysh

Blown minds

Best Building to Blow Up

Renaissance Center

In 1984, searching for a way to describe the unearthly landscape of architect-developer-capitalist John Portman’s Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, literary critic Fredric Jameson coined the term "postmodern hyperspace." According to Jameson, the Bonaventure and its sister developments like the Ren Cen, produced spaces so new that people lacked the "cognitive maps" —spatial brains — to navigate these insular worlds enclosed by glass and devoid of context, with their obscured entrances and continually rising and falling escalators and elevators.

Metro Times readers don’t need Jameson to recall the ambivalence toward the Ford Family or John Portman’s mall-inspired politics, the stark disjoint between "their" vision of Detroit’s plastic future and the true revolution that a rebirth of the city would necessitate. And despite the new GM proposals (a river promenade, new access roads, blowing up the berm) to make the building accessible and (assumedly) human, an understanding of what some of well-placed plastic explosives could do still seems appropriate.

But for those of us who grew up in spaces like the Ren Cen (Detroit’s techno generation), there is no spatial vertigo. And the faux-revolution, held out by the Ford family in the aftermath of the riots, really was a renaissance.

And though it may grate against our lives, as locals we should, as Jameson put it, "grow new organs, to expand our sensorium and our body to some new, yet unimaginable, perhaps ultimately impossible, dimensions." —Carleton S. Gholz

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