Articles

TORCH SONG

Detroit went for the gold to host the 1968 Olympics, but ended up singing the blues

As metro Detroiters watch the Olympic games broadcast from London later this month, they might be surprised to hear that their city was once a contender.

Between 1944 and 1972, Michigan business and civic leaders lobbied for Detroit to host the quadrennial event. During the early years, Detroit faced the International Olympic Committee (IOC), vying against the likes of Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Each time, Detroit garnered a modest number of votes.

Detroit’s reputation as one of the world’s great cities proved invaluable when, beginning with the 1960 games, the U.S. Olympic Committee ruled that only one American city would represent the nation before the IOC.

Read more on HOUR Detroit

CATCHING THE WATER BUG

In the midst of the city, pond and garden club members share ideas to create serene, backyard oases

In 1995, Dennis Long, an electrician who worked for Detroit Public Schools at the time, went to a friend’s house to repair a backyard socket. When he arrived, more than just a faulty plug greeted him.

His friend has just finished transforming his backyard into a decorative pond surrounded by irises and lilies. Taking in the picturesque scene, Long was instantly captivated. He soon had a post-retirement avocation to devote himself to — one that would prove to be a lot more fun than freelance electrical work.

Long began to educate himself on the art of pond and garden construction. Through seminars and extensive research, he became familiar with the fine points of design, excavation, and drainage, and how to successfully integrate a pond with plantings. Soon after he built a pond and garden (sometimes referred to as a “water garden”) behind his northwest Detroit home. Over time, Long introduced Japanese koi fish to the pond, creating yet another aesthetic.

Read more on HOUR Detroit

Automotive Technology: Convenience vs. Privacy

The amazing new communication technologies in cars can greatly enhance the driving experience, but they may compromise privacy

The Chevrolet Vega of 1975 came equipped with an electronic control unit underneath the hood. Through a network of sensors this unit monitored the vehicle’s essential systems: throttle position, idle speed, coolant temperature and most importantly, the fuel injection system — a first for an American car. The device synthesized the data and adjusted these systems to achieve maximum efficiency. It functioned inconspicuously—no dashboard touch screen or “driver interface” — and it was purely self-contained. Neither the control unit nor the Vega communicated with the outside world.

Read more on Pacific Standard

Detroit Reading Corps Battles Poor Test Scores

Faced with catastrophic test scores, Detroit’s schools determined that poor reading lay below the surface and mobilized a corps from the community to tackle the problem

“These scores confirm that we have a reading emergency.”

So last December said Robert Bobb, appointed by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm in March 2009 to deal with Detroit Public Schools’ persistent financial problems and has more recently exerted authority over academic matters.

Read more on Pacific Standard

Alarm Bells in Detroit

Last Call for City’s Historic Police and Fire Headquarters?

On June 11, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced a $53 million plan to relocate the headquarters of the city’s police and fire departments to a modern structure that once served as a temporary casino. On July 20, the city council approved the purchase of the former casino for $6.3 million and the sale of $100 million in bonds to finance the necessary retrofitting. The building will also house a state-of-the-art crime lab to be staffed by the Michigan State Police. The city hopes to move into the new facility by late 2012.

While the news comes as a great relief to some in the city (the police department has repeatedly requested a new facility), uncertainty over the future of the 1923 and 1929 buildings has caused great concern within the preservation community. Neither building is a designated city landmark.

Read more on National Trust for Historical Preservation

Making it Wright

New Life for Detroit’s Only Frank Lloyd Wright House

Restoring a tarnished architectural gem takes guts, patience, and nerves of steel—especially when the project is your future home. On Detroit’s west side, two visionary homeowners have taken on this challenge.

Their project is the Dorothy Turkel house; the only confirmed Frank Lloyd Wright structure within the city of Detroit. Two years ago Norman Silk and Dale Morgan, two enterprising residents who wanted to move to a more contemporary residence, saw the house and made the decision to purchase and rehabilitate it. “It needed to be done,” Morgan says.

Read more on National Trust for Historical Preservation