Wednesday, 26 November 2014

SNAPSHOTS: Fists and a French Man - The Founding of Detroit

Hart Hart Downtown Hart Fist

One day in 1701, a French man landed on the shoreline of a river. That man Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac founded Fort Pontchartrian du Detroit, which be commanded until 1710 as a part grand old New France. One wonders what he would have thought about the fortunes - the making of the American dream, the city that became the automobile center of the world, the Paris of the Midwest and Motown, to it's modern state of ruin and rebirth.

Anyway the site Cadillac stepped on in that marshy swamping state that became Detroit is now Hart Plaza itself founded in 1975. While a bit of a concrete jungle, it's a downtown gathering place. Surrounded by towering buildings, sculptures within the plaza remember Cadillac himself, the underground railroad, Horace Dodge (Horace E. Dodge and Son Memorial Fountain) to the labor union legacy (Transcending - the arch). The later stands close to where Martin Luther King, Jr gave his first I Have a Dream speech in 1963. "The arc of history bends towards justice" - one of King's lines, is included in the sculpture. 

As Cadillac's statue stands guard over the riverside entrance to the plaza The Fist - a monument to Joe Louis often considered the first African American to achieve sport star frame within the US stands at the other. While the monument makes reference physically to Louis's powerpunch it's also symbolically aimed at racial injustice - something the city knows a lot about.

In the last five or so years, there's been studies and plans drawn up for a total redesign of the Plaza. Whether they'll happen I guess is another matter.

An all American post for an all American today tomorrow that is Thanksgiving. I wish you all a happy turkey day. Wherever you are in the world, take some time out to remember and appreciate what you are thankful for. I'm off to enjoy a long weekend with the husband, so I'll see you all on Monday!

11 comments:

  1. You have a happy thanksgiving too....

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  2. Interesting! So are the cars named after him too? :P hope you have a happy Thanksgiving! :)

    Jessica
    the.pyreflies.org

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    1. I believe he is, lots of can manufactures have had their names after Michigan places & people related to this state being the home of the old car and all. I wonder what he would have thought of it!

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  3. You always have the best pictures ! Loved this post ! Happy Thanksgiving ! :)

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  4. I can't really imagine thinking back to the 1700's... things must have so so different, probably more different than we could comprehend. I guess it's quite a bit of concrete, but it really suits the area with the massive buildings in the background it all fits in quite nicely. I wonder what they'll choose to redesign as?

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    1. There was/is talk of making it more green and park like which would be nice especially as it's right next to the river. Mind you I haven't heard about any more plans for a while now.

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  5. Oh and happy Thanksgiving ;)
    (I always thought Hump Day and Thanksgiving where the same thing... I don't think they are)

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    1. Eh you have humps and camels on your mind :P

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  6. Fab post - have a wonderful Turkey day!

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  7. Sorry! I'm only just catching up now. I'm such a bad blog like that.
    Anyway, your photos look awesome (as always) and I love the fact that you share a little bit of history about places like this. It's super interesting and makes me feel like I've at least learnt something today!
    Debi x

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