Exploring Detroit by Bike

Posted on October 6, 2016

by Kelly P

The increasing frequency of cooler days acts as a gentle reminder to take the opportunity to enjoy those outdoor activities you might avoid when it’s cold and snowy. I recently took advantage of a bicycling activity in Detroit: The Tour de Troit. This event allows bikers to tour the city of Detroit and see it from a different perspective. The Tour de Troit offered two biking experiences: one for more experienced bikers (62 miles) and a more leisurely paced Main ride (25.6 miles).

The 2016 Tour de Troit began in Roosevelt Park on a gloomy September day. I participated in the main ride and found my eyes glued to the views passing by as I rode. The bike routes were planned well and took the bikers through different areas of the city. We looped Belle Isle, glimpsed historic homes in Indian village, and passed through downtown. There were unique neighborhoods and businesses (new and old), colorful street art, and passers-by encouraging us as we bicycled past. The beauty of the landmarks, even in the darkness from the rain, attracted my curious mind, unfamiliar with the history of the city.

Travelling Detroit by bike, without having to worry about traffic, directions, or parking was a unique and advantageous way to tour the city. I knew, as I coasted into the finish at Roosevelt Park that my interest was piqued and it was time to learn more about Detroit. I turned to Toledo Lucas County Public Library’s collection to see where my research would begin. Learn more about Detroit and its rich history with these books then take a visit and explore!

Once in a Great City: a Detroit Story by David Maraniss

Formats Available: Print | eBook

Explores everything that made Detroit great–from the auto industry visionaries to influential labor leaders to the hit-makers of Motown–while demonstrating how there were hints of the city’s tragic collapse decades before the riot, years of civic corruption, and neglect took their toll.

Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff

Formats Available: Print | Audiobook | eBook | eAudiobook

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Work and Other Sins presents an exposé of bureaucratic corruption and systemic arson in his home city of Detroit, tracing his work with a local fire brigade and his investigations into the daily lives of politicians, police officials, business people and homeowners who are working to save the troubled city.

Detroit Resurrected: To Bankruptcy and Back by Nathan Bomey

Formats Available: Print

Drawing on exclusive interviews, insider sources and thousands of records, an insider’s account of financial ruin, backroom intrigue and political rebirth reveals the tricky path to rescuing a city facing a legacy of broken promises from $18 billion in debt and giving new hope to its citizens.

Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock ‘N’ Roll in America’s Loudest City by Steve Miller

Formats Available: Print

From the Stooges and MC to the White Stripes, Eminem, and Kid Rock, this account of rock in Detroit, which has always produced more subversive rock music than any city in the world, presents stories from the participants themselves.

A Fluid Frontier: Slavery, Resistance, and the Underground Railroad in the Detroit River Borderland edited by Karolyn Smardz Frost and Veta Smith Tucker

Formats Available: Print

As the major gateway into British North America for travelers on the Underground Railroad, the U.S./Canadian border along the Detroit River was a boundary that determined whether thousands of enslaved people of African descent could reach a place of freedom and opportunity. In A Fluid Frontier: Slavery, Resistance, and the Underground Railroad in the Detroit River Borderland,editors Karolyn Smardz Frost and Veta Smith Tucker explore the experiences of the area’s freedom-seekers and advocates, both black and white, against the backdrop of the social forces—legal, political, social, religious, and economic—that shaped the meaning of race and management of slavery on both sides of the river.

Lost Car Companies of Detroit by Alan Naldrett

Formats Available: Print

Among more than two hundred auto companies that tried their luck in the Motor City, just three remain: Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. But many of those lost to history have colorful stories worth telling. For instance, J.J. Cole forgot to put brakes in his new auto, so on the first test run, he had to drive it in circles until it ran out of gas. Brothers John and Horace Dodge often trashed saloons during wild evenings but used their great personal wealth to pay for the damage the next day (if they could remember where they had been). David D. Buick went from being the founder of his own leading auto company to working the information desk at the Detroit Board of Trade. Author Alan Naldrett explores these and more tales of automakers who ultimately failed but shaped the industry and designs putting wheels on the road today.

Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society that shocked Depression-Era Detroit by Tom Stanton

Formats Available: Print

Detroit 1936: In a city abuzz over its unrivaled sports success, baseball fan Dayton Dean is arrested for murder. Though said to have a childlike intelligence, Dean possesses a vivid memory and a hunger for attention. He gives police a story about a secret Klan-like organization called the Black Legion, responsible for countless murders, floggings, and fire bombings. The Legion has tens of thousands of members in the Midwest, among them politicians and notable citizens even, possibly, a beloved Detroit athlete. When Dean’s revelations explode, they all seek cover. Award-winning author Tom Stanton’s stunning work of history, crime, and sports, weaves together the terror of the Legion with the magnificent athletic ascension of Detroit. Richly portraying 1930s America, and featuring figures like Louis, the country’s most famous black man; Jewish slugger Hank Greenberg; anti-Semitic Henry Ford; radio priest Father Coughlin; and J. Edgar Hoover, Terror in the City of Champions is a rollicking true tale set at the confluence of hard luck, hope, victory, and violence.

A Detroit Anthology edited by Anna Clark

Formats Available: Print

A unique perspective of the Motor City, this anthology combines stories told by both longtime residents and newcomers from activists to teachers to artists to students. While Detroit has always been rich in stories, too often those stories are told back to the city by outsiders looking in, believing they can explain Detroit back to itself. As editor, Anna Clark writes in the introduction, “These are the stories we tell each other over late nights at the pub and long afternoons on the porch. We share them in coffee shops, at church social hours, in living rooms, and while waiting for the bus. These are stories full of nodding asides and knowing laughs. These are stories addressed to the rhetorical “you”—with the ratcheted up language that comes with it—and these are stories that took real legwork to investigate . . . You will not find ‘positive’ stories about Detroit in this collection, or ‘negative’ ones. But you will find true stories.” Featuring essays, photographs, art, and poetry by Grace Lee Boggs, John Carlisle, Desiree Cooper, Dream Hampton, Steve Hughes, Jamaal May, Tracie McMillan, Marsha Music, Shaka Senghor, Thomas J. Sugrue, and many others.

Forgotten Landmarks of Detroit by Dan Austin

Formats Available: Print

The Motor City. The City on the Strait. The Arsenal of Democracy. Detroit is the city that put the world on wheels. Once the fourth largest in the country, its streets were filled with bustling crowds and lined with breathtaking landmarks. Over the years, many of Detroit’s most beautiful buildings–packed with marble, ornate metalwork, painted ceilings and glitz and glamour–have been reduced to dust. From the hallowed halls of Old City Hall to the floating majesty of steamships to the birthplace of the automotive industry, Dan Austin, author of Lost Detroit and creator of HistoricDetroit.org, recaptures stories and memories of a forgotten Detroit, giving readers a glimpse into some of the most stunning buildings this city has ever known.

Detroit City is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis by Mark Binelli

Formats Available: Print

A Rolling Stone reporter and Detroit native traces the city’s demise and recovery efforts, evaluating the ambitious plans of urban developers, speculators, politicians, agriculturalists and utopian environmentalists to transform Detroit into a viable, unsegregated and economically diverse post-industrial region.

Featured Image Credit: Photos of Detroit, Michigan by Kelly P.

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