Detroit Travel- The Henry Ford_ Greenfield Village _ the Detroit Institute of Arts
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It was still dark outside when I woke up from my restful slumber at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel. There was some commotion going on outside on the street: thousands of people were milling about in preparation for the Detroit Free Press Marathon, a big annual event for runners. I got dressed and hurried outside to catch the start of the race. Thousands of onlookers watched as the runners lined up behind the start line, ready to kick off the long distance race. In addition to the traditional marathon, the schedule also included a half-marathon, a relay and a 5 km fun run. The most unique feature of the Detroit Marathon is its international course which takes it through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel into Windsor, Canada, and across the Ambassador Bridge back to Detroit. The tunnel portion of the marathon is the only official underwater mile in the world as most of the tunnel is under water. The entire downtown area was packed with people, and I took the opportunity to go on an early morning photo safari to the waterfront where I witnessed a breathtaking sunrise above the Windsor skyline. This brisk walk at daybreak gave me another chance to capture some of Detroit 鈥檚 most photogenic spots, bathed in the warm glow of the rising sun. After another scrumptious waffle breakfast at the Westin Book Cadillac we were ready for a trip out of town to Dearborn to see 鈥淭 he Henry Ford 鈥? Also known as the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, this is the largest indoor-outdoor history museum complex in the United States. In addition to expansive museum grounds and thousands of memorabilia, it also features an IMAX theatre. We started our explorations in the indoor complex which had begun as Henry Ford 鈥檚 personal collection of historic objects. The eastern side of the large historic building features a display on the role of the automobile in American Life. Next to this area is a 1941 Allegheny Steam Locomotive. Children in particular like to climb in and out of this historic machine. The crowning jewel of the automotive display is the 1961 Lincoln Continental in which President J.F. Kennedy was assassinated. Another section, entitled 鈥淗 eroes of the Sky 鈥? documents the first forty years of aviation with photos, exhibits and actual airplanes. Other exhibits feature furniture and articles of daily life as well as an area with displays of late 19th and early 20th century machinery and power generation equipment. Very popular with young visitors is an authentic Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. In the area entitled 鈥淲 ith Liberty and Justice For All 鈥? America 鈥檚 struggle for independence as well as civil rights is documented. A popular display is the rocking chair on which President Abraham Lincoln was sitting when he was shot. George Washington 鈥檚 camp bed is also on display. The highlight of this area is the actual bus on which Rosa Parks was sitting when she refused to give up her seat, effectively triggering the Civil Rights Movement. I enjoyed the chance to stroll through the actual bus, events on which kicked off one of the United States most important social movements. One of our favourite displays was the Dymaxion House, developed by inventor Buckminster Fuller who initially conceptualized the idea for this round, aluminum-clad suspended house all the way back in 1927. His mass-produced and affordable house featured about 1000 square feet of living space with two bedrooms and two bathrooms inside a round metal shell. The house included a rain-water catching system as well as low-energy construction materials and was supposed to be hurricane-proof. It was conceived to be easily shipped and assembled on site, and its goal was intended to be affordable for the masses. A tour in this house demonstrated to us what a visionary Buckminster Fuller was. His groundbreaking ideas of affordable and environmentally sustainable lodging are not even close to being implemented today. Some people are just way ahead of their time. After exploring the indoor portion of the Henry Ford we headed outside on this gorgeous late October afternoon. Greenfield Village is the largest outdoor museum in America and covers a total of 240 acres. Almost 100 historical buildings were moved here to show how Americans used to live. Houses date all the way from the 17th century to the present, and streetscapes are livened up by costumed interpreters who demonstrate activities such as glass-blowing, pottery and other crafts. Greenfield Village is particularly popular with families since it offers rides in a horse-drawn omnibus as well as in authentic Ford Model Ts. Authentic vehicles from the 1910s and 1920s were chugging around all over the place, giving happy visitors a ride. A steam locomotive also takes visitors around the property, and a carousel entertains the little ones. The surrounding environment is bucolic and includes forests, rivers and pastures for sheep and horses. Around 2 pm we started our drive back into the city since we wanted to explore another Detroit institution: the Detroit Institute of Arts. In 2003 the DIA was ranked as the second-largest municipally owned museum in the United States, and its collections are valued at more than one billion dollars. The DIA underwent a major renovation and expansion in 2007, and 77,000 square feet (over 7000 m2) were added to the existing 677,000 square feet (about 63,000 m2). We went on an organized tour with museum volunteer Barbara Goldstein who started us off in the extensive African and Asian collections on the lower level. Level 1 also holds Egyptian, Islamic, Native American art as well as photography, prints and drawings. We then moved upstairs to see contemporary African American artists, German expressionists, and other early 20th century works. The museum 鈥檚 holdings include works by Albrecht D 眉 rer, Rembrandt, Vincent van Gogh, Auguste Rodin, Franz Marc, Oskar Kokoschka, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso and many other prominent artists. Frescos by Diego Rivera entitled 鈥淒 etroit Industry 鈥?surround the center of the museum. The Detroit Institute of Arts is also the location of the Detroit Film Theatre and currently features a special exhibition entitled 鈥淢 onet to Dali 鈥? a collection of Modern Masters from the Cleveland Museum of Art. With its 65,000 works it is a huge complex of art that spans the globe. Visually enriched yet physically famished, we decided to check out the caf 茅 on the lower level and enjoyed a delicious soup and chilli. Following our visit to the DIA we stayed right in the area: two blocks north is the Inn on Ferry Street 鈥?a complex of six historic buildings which includes four large Victorian mansions and two carriage houses that encompass 40 luxurious guest rooms. This would be my home for the next two days. Pleasantly exhausted from three days of discoveries I stayed in my luxurious two-bedroom suite and did some web-based research via the inn 鈥檚 complimentary Internet connection. Tomorrow would be another big day for discoveries in Detroit.