A tour of Detroit's past glory [Windsor Star]

People called, "Good morning!" A little boy stuck his head out of the secondstory window of a ramshackle house and waved. Cops highfived the public. It was Detroit like you've never seen it.
The Motor City may be on its knees, but on a late summer morning, the sun warm, the sky translucent, there was nothing more fascinating or fun than sailing along the streets in the Tour de Troit.
Magnificent architecture - and burned-out shells. Resplendent parks and vacant, weed-filled lots. We saw it all on the annual bike ride last Saturday.
The 30-mile (my husband and I did that one) and 62-mile rides started in Roosevelt Park at Michigan and Vernor, at the foot of the old Michigan Central Station. I'd never stood in front of the landmark; I'd only seen it from afar. Designed by the same two firms that did Grand Central Station in New York City, now a symbol of Detroit's ruin, it's breathtaking, grander - and more tragic - than I'd even imagined. One after another, people snapped photographs of themselves in front of it.
With the roads closed to cars, we headed west to begin our loop around Southwest Detroit, downtown, midtown and Belle Isle. We passed the handsome and historic Bowen Branch Library, built in 1912 of buff Ohio stone and red vitrified brick (there's a fireplace inside made from tile from a noted local pottery still in business). Right after was Clark Park, the only place in Detroit with a regulation outdoor hockey rink. We pedalled through North Corktown, part of Detroit's oldest neighbourhood, founded in 1834 and named after County Cork, Ireland, were many of its first residents were from.
Remember the love scene in the boiler room in the movie Eight Mile? That was filmed at New Center Stamping, built in the 1930s and still in business as a parts manufacturer. We passed that, too, followed by GM's Detroit Hamtramck Assembly, where the Chevy Volt is made. Then it was on to the massive Packard Plant, designed by Albert Kahn, the foremost American industrial architect at the turn of the last century. It's crumbling and still beautiful.
We rode through Indian Village, where the barons of industry built their elegant mansions between 1895 and the 1920s. On Saturday, the gracious homes were dotted with yard sales. Just before the bridge to Belle Isle is Gabriel Richard Park, a beautiful park at the east end of Detroit's Riverwalk.
We cycled the perimeter of Belle Isle, a treasure of a park with almost 1,000 acres laid out by Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed Central Park in New York City. There's a plan for the state to take it over and refurbish it. On our loop, we passed the Detroit Yacht Club, one of the oldest and largest in the country, and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, where the bow anchor of the doomed Edmund Fitzgerald is kept.
Heading back east, through Corktown again, we bumped along on one of the old red brick streets.
All along the way, riders and spectators called out, "Good morning!"
The riders waved back at the little boy perched in the window. Many people took pictures and video. Even the police took pictures. One cop held up a sign, "Five miles to go."