Throughout my life whenever I have said that I was born in Detroit, people would make denegrating remarks like, "I'm sorry to hear that!" I had heard the history of the last 30-40 years with the riots and the great escape from Detroit, its reputation as a murder capital and the huge calamity that occurred that left a whole city abandoned.

On this trip, I wanted to see the beauty and appreciate Detroit's history, for the city's benefit and mine.

Travels to the Heartland, page 5. July 18, 2006 by Earl Cook

(Links unpated February 8, 2011)

Since visiting Detroit several years ago, I have spent many hours on the Internet searching for information about the history of the city. I also visited Detroit this time with a goal to visit Highland Park even though being warned not to go there because it was too dangerous. I am one who believes that you create your own reality and if you go expecting danger, you will find it, but if you go expecting to find interesting things, then that is what you will find.

I wanted to start in downtown Detroit and then take Woodward Ave. out to Highland Park so that I could see the new revitalized downtown area and then travel through what has been called the 'Fabulous Ruins of Detroit' by Detroit's Lowell Boileau.

The statue in Hart Plaza in the Riverside Park represents a lot to me...it looks like calipers that engineers use, the inside looks like a belt or gear, and the gap in the circle looks to me like the gap in an ignition system where energy and spark occur, the synapse in our human nervous system or a circle about to be completed.


The old Tiger Stadium was still standing along a cobblestone section of Michigan Avenue next to this old fire station. Unfortunately, it is one of the many buildings in Detroit slated for destructionand was demolished 2008-2009.

In the link above, notice that this portion of Tiger Stadium behind home plate was the last to go.

Michigan Avenue connects downtown Detroit with Chicago and is one of the oldest routes of the city.


A few blocks from the old Tiger Stadium is the Michigan Building located at 220 Bagley Street. Most people have no idea of the amazing discoveries that were made at this site. In 1892, Henry Ford began experimenting with his first motorized vehicles in a small structure here. Later, in 1896, he drove his first gasoline-powered car down the street at 58 Bagley Street (silent video).

In another amazing discovery that occurred at this site, Dr. George Goodheart discovered Applied Kinesiology in Suite 542. In 1964 Goodheart discovered that there was a connection between muscle strength, reflexes on the body and the energy meridians of Traditional Chinese Medicine. These techniques were given the name Applied Kinesiology and now are used by professional healthcare professionals around the world.

In 2007, the International College of Applied Kinesiology (ICAK) will be 'returning home to Detroit' for its annual international convention.

Another person born in Detroit, Dr. John Thie, DC, decided that these techniques were so powerful and easy-to-use that they should be shared with laypeople. In 1974, Dr. Thie wrote, Touch for Health, a natural-healthcare classic, that has been translated into all the major languages and has been taught in over 100 countries.

We were first introduced to Touch for Health (TFH) in 1976 when a seven year injury of mine was fixed in only minutes using the acupressure techniques. This was after three doctors had told me that I would have to live with the injury my whole life.

This is interesting to me, because I (as another Detroit-born person) along with my wife, Gail, worked closely with Dr. Thie while producing, eTouch for Health, a software version of the TFH energy kinesiology techniques. History shows that Dr. Thie influenced the creation of many different offshoots of specialized kinesiology that include some of the ground-breaking work in education, psychology and 'energy healing'. We created the TFH Interactive Tree with live Internet links to organize these accomplishments and influences of Dr. Thie and Dr. Goodheart.

Thanks to a poster on the DetroitYes message boards, I learned a bit more of the history of the Michigan Building. It seems that one of the grand theaters of Detroit, The Michigan Theater, was located inside the Michigan Building. I asked my sister about this and she replied, "Yes, it was one of my favorites." But, unbelievably, to me, the theater was converted to an indoor parking garage!


Henry Ford helped create Detroit. We went by his original Model T factory on Piquette St. This factory was in use between 1904-1910 and is a National Historic Landmark. It is also the first property that Henry Ford owned in Detroit. A marker on the site states, "Birthplace of the Ford Model T, the car that put the world on wheels." This factory is located about a mile from where my family lived when I was born.


The second Ford Model T factory where up to 29,000 people worked and where up to 1,000 'Tin Lizzies' were produced in a day. This Alfred Kahn-designed building had many windows and was filled with natural light in a way that is much less common with today's factories where there are no windows.

This plant is where Ford introduced the moving assembly line and some say, 'introduced the second industrial revolution in America'.

I was born around the corner from this factory.


Just off Woodward Ave. and about one mile north of Grand Boulevard and just south of Highland Park, is the Boston-Edison Historic District of Homes. Henry Ford and many of the bright and successful men of Detroit lived in this neighborhood. Ford lived in this neigborhood until he moved to Dearborn in 1915. His Dearborn Fair Lane home is the one most people associate with Henry and Clara Ford.

While researching Henry Ford's home located at 160 Edison in the Boston-Edison district, I discovered interesting stories about Ford's relationship to Thomas Edison. It seems that Ford, Edison and others, including Firestone, were big camping buddies. Here is a funny story about one of their adventures...Interesting Edison, Ford and Firestone article.

Photo of the home from Michigan Historical Markers


Detroit has many magnificent buildings that now sit vacant and neglected. Luckily, this red sandstone church along Woodward Ave. is not one of those. It sits in an area that is largely uninhabited, but this building is currently the home of the Ecumenical Theological Seminary.

When we first saw the building, I looked for a sign that described its purpose and I looked for a sign of life. Did not see either, and I thought at first that it was abandoned. Thanks again to the DetroitYes group for providing the correct information.

My older sister who has lived in Detroit most of her life says that Detroit used to be beautiful. I was looking for that beauty and I can see it in the old buildings with their interesting architecture.

As I said in a previous page, I found a great website called The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit by Lowell Boileau. which displays the grand buildings and homes from the period when Detroit was at a peak of glory and success before the huge 'calamity'.

Thanks to the kind folks on the DetroitYes forum for their assistance in verifying addresses, photos and information!



We passed several magnificent churches as we traveled along Woodward Ave. Signs of Detroit coming back are seen here and there, but the number of parking lots and abandoned buildings is still great. These impressive spires belong to the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, the home of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

I think that something amazing could happen in all of this available space. For example, with the need for transportation in the future to move away from petroleum-based engines, there is a huge need for dedicated efforts to solve the problems and design the transportation of the future. All of the available space with the existing infrastructure would be a perfect place to start this new transportation revolution.



Representative of the religious freedom and diversity of our country, this Mosque sits along I-75 near Toledo, Ohio as you approach Detroit.


A poignant question for the residents of the inner-city of Detroit and Highland Park area.

Passing in front of the abandoned buildings, Woodward Ave. is being improved in downtown Highland Park.


Another of the magnificent buildings that seem to be semi-occupied and semi-abandoned in Highland Park. This photo is of the Highland Towers.

Highland Park was once recognized as one of the prettiest places in America. The hills upon which the city was built were covered with Elm trees before the dreaded Dutch Elm Disease destroyed them in the recent past.


America's Corvette team has won the production-based GT1 class for five times. This is an incredible record for an American team since endurance racing is dominated by the European teams, especially the German Audi and Porsche teams. No American team has dominated in a class like this since the Ford GT-40 of the 1966-69 period.

Seeing these banners being put up and with the Corvette sitting in the lobby, I realized that these guys were finally getting the recognition they deserved and this was a well-deserved celebration in their home. Happening to be driving by at this moment was pure serendipity. So, I had to take a couple of photos.

In a moment of serendipity, I had turned to drive in front of the Renaissance Center (GM headquarters) and saw that something special was going on. I have been a fan and did work as a photojournalist covering international endurance prototype racing. I know that in these times of diminishing resources, any kind of racing seems frivolous but, I think there is a real need for competition like that which occurs at the 24 Hours of LeMans and the American Le Mans Series.

Endurance racing involves a tremendous amount of leading-edge technology and you must outlast all others to win. These days, the cars are so advanced that they can drive fast the entire distance. But, they must be conservative with their fuel and balance endurance and speed to win. The winning cars of today are the Audis with their diesel engine.

Corvette Racing, the most successful of recent American efforts in international competition has been largely built upon a close relationship and the abilities of Pratt & Miller.

A few years back I photographed another group of prototypes, the Solar Powered Sunraycers, as they came through Atlanta. These cars may not be practicle, but they are rolling testbeds for the future. I think these prototype series need to work together.


As a result of racing the Corvette in Europe and America, GM has learned how to give the Corvette better gas mileage and more power simultaneously. The current shapes of the new Corvettes on the street are directly influenced by the wind tunnel research and the racing experience. The car looked pretty good sitting there on the marble in the lobby of GM headquarters.

Atlantan John Portman was the architect for the Renaissance Center where GM now resides and Atlantan Don Panoz had created the American Le Mans Series. I felt it was appropriate that another Atlantan was taking these photos!


Most of the future of advancements in automobiles will occur through the use of computers in researching, designing and operating the vehicles. Its no accident that Compuware is just down the street from GM and one of the sponsors of the Corvette racing program.

Endurance racing requires state-of-the-art engine management systems which optimize engine performance for the best efficiency. So, a lot of the Corvette teams accomplishments can be traced to advanced electronics, something that will directly benefit cars of the futures.


The Ambassador Bridge connects Detroit with Windsor, Canada. This graceful structure is a favorite to see in Detroit as it looks like "a string of pearls" crossing the wide Detroit River.

On this day, we had decided to go over for viewing the sunset over Detroit.


Sun setting over Downriver Detroit.


The Renaissance Center from a different view. From our viewpoint in the riverfront park in Windsor, we could see people taking the outside elevators in the buildings, just as people do here in Atlanta at the Portman-designed Peachtree Plaza Hotel.

John Portman is known as the designer and builder of the first atrium hotel design. In these photos, the lobby goes through the building and opens onto the Detroit River. We are fortunate in Atlanta to have many Portman-designed buildings and they are phenomenal to enter. You look up and wonder how can there be so much open space inside a building and do so in so many interesting shapes and flows.


Detroit skyline at sunset.

The Ambassador Bridge in the distance.

We only had a chance for a quick snapshot of the Ambassador Bridge. Somewhat blurry, but a memory.

When starting this series of pages, it has been the rivers and bridges that have impressed me the most in our travels.

The Ambassador Bridge was privately funded and is still privately owned and operated. The owners want to build a new bridge downriver and convert this bridge to a backup function, but this is a controversial project and is meeting opposition.


After leaving Detroit, we spent the next afternoon and night on the 'west coast' of Michigan. Located along Lake Michigan, this is a beach of squeaky sand, much like would be found on an ocean. Lake Michigan is so big that it is almost a sea. Storms bring huge waves and during the winter the lake freezes and can produce icebergs 35 feet tall.

The sand of the area has round particles and is used in iron castings because of its property to not stick. It is in great demand in the industrial north and there have been battles to protect its mining in the sensitive dunes of the lake.

The lake also provides a moderating force so that the area is great for growing fruit like blueberries and cherries. Also while driving in we heard an announcement for the 'International Babyfood Festival'. We later learned that Gerber Baby Foods is located in the area and the rich farmlands with the climate conditions makes a perfect place to grow and produce babyfood.

This was the 'other side' of Michigan and helped balance my views. After seeing the cruel realities of the industrialized inner city and now the remote beauties of her lakes and rivers, I now have a different view of Michigan.

And, I hope that Detroit makes a triumpant comeback.

In 2009, I had the opportunity to visit the Detroit International Auto Show. Unfortunately, this was just after the huge economic collapse of the UD economy and, specifically, of the US auto industry. It was also a time of a huge paradigm shift as Detroit seriously began to introduce new alternatively powered vehicles. I estimated at that time that Ford Motor Company had done the best in preparing for the immediate future. There great gamble has begun to pay off and in 2011, Ford is once again making profits. With the cost of gasoline once again rising, we will see how prepared Detroit is for leading the US.



©2006 Earl Cook