Thanks again to brother Dan, today’s exploration ride was once again inspired by his research and intuition. We have been talking about the original city founder’s intentions for the Boulevard systems as of late and have amended our 2012 rides this season to share with people the original trails created by these remarkable men. For me, staring at the maps that had been so badly scarred by the freeway systems, it was hard for me to imagine the reasoning beyond the French influence of design, most notably the Boulevards of Paris and France and how wonderful they felt. Yet again my good friend was on to something so I decided once again to travel down a trail as of yet unexplored by our group.
In honor of the French Connection today’s journey started out the old Log Cabin Farm as it appears to me, time and again that many a Masonic trail concluded here, the old Log Cabin sitting center to the Old Log Cabin Farm, lost for ever as it once set amongst the fairways and Greens of the now private Golf club. The clock read 2:30 as I started out from the Palmer house and made my way to La Salle Boulevard. Today’s journey would be French in a couple of different ways. French for the Boulevard, La Salle named after one of the founders and thanks to my Grandma the 25% Francis flowing through yours truly. Skipping around the Northwest corner of Highland Park at Log Cabin road a few blocks further west and I found my street and turned left and entered on in.
A beautiful collection of classic 20’s residential architecture waits for the traveler just south of McNichols. I said to myself wow this is beautiful and yet another viable collection of homes that must be added to the ‘University District’ conversation. Crossing over Puritan the tune changes a bit. As I approached the Lodge Freeway I wondered east one block so I could catch the pedestrian bridge/overpass that was waiting for me, all-be-it without a Kerb cuts, just at the end of Baylis. A quick jump up and over the Kerb I darted left up and onto the overpass. I once again found myself smiling at the joy of an elevated view over a sea of endless automobiles. I wondered to myself if people would ever see how urban sprawl, commuting and burning fossil fuel really doesn’t work? Once across I found La Salle again and headed across Fenkell Ave. and on down La Salle Ct to see if there was a trail thru all of the apparent land grab, make shift barricades and illegal dumping piles. Nope, just another armpit of neglect, in need of a good cleaning and a shave. I looped back North to Fenkell and headed west on the south sidewalk turning left onto Linwood Ave. A quick left onto Oakman and I soon found myself back on the La Salle Trail.
From Oakman down to Buena Vista the traveler will be delighted to find another beautiful collection of apartment buildings similar to the Historic Palmer Park collection. Similar in differentiated style’s, set upon a smaller scale or footprint if you will. All of the lawns were cut and trimmed, no weed trees devouring fence lines. Another sight for History’s sore eyes, as the group managing this space seemed to have not lost the fight.. I continued south through a somewhat debilitated section but as I approached Courtland Ave the tune started to change. What greeted me next made me slow down. The site before me was Central High School!
The Masons once again left a mark, so clear and so concise that it made me stop in my tracks to Marvel the Cathedral/Lodge Room that stood silent before me. The center portion of the old school building felt like I was back in Europe on one of my study tours. Adorned in full symbolic array and constructed from Magical proportions, that would make Pythagoras smile, I wondered if any of the students could feel the energy of the amplified space or ever had cause to wonder what all of the Symbolic accents and Latin words meant? Slowly I circled the entire structure, enjoying the message from the still in good working order sidewalk that surrounds. From there I continued on South to the K-8th grade school, made smaller in scale yet set with Magical proportions and symbolism from the Quatrefoil to the founders Latin cryptic message still in plain site. With our kids faces stuck in hand held media streams I wondered if any, would get the founders message?
Smiling with yet another beautiful discovery, to carry with me in my heart, I continued on and down the grand old Boulevard anxiously awaiting what ever would meet me next. Boston Edison is most beautiful west of the Lodge. The sections near Woodward perhaps are grander in scale but the overall feel and sense of community, at least to me, appears warmer west of the ‘Lodge’ freeway. West Chicago, Longfellow all of the way to Blain all sang in similar tunes. With a brief zone of decay passed on thru, I was floored but what came at me next. ‘La Salle Gardens’ might just be the most beautiful neighborhood in all of the city of Detroit! That’s right, that’s what I just said and to think of it before today was unimaginable, as I had never seen what now stood beautifully set before me!
La Salle Blvd. South dead ends and or becomes interrupted by the beautiful La Salle Park set as a center square surrounded by a magnificent residential collection. I ditched on the idea of the central sidewalk and decided to drive around the square, not once but twice so I could marvel at the beautiful collection and expressions of Architectural history that stood there in front of me. Before today I could not even imagine the phrase Colonial-Art Deco but believe as you may, two incredible examples of this only-ever-seen style can be found on this square. To that you can add everything else you can imagine. Colonial, Art Deco, Spanish, Moorish, Tudor, Tudor Revival, Greek Revival, Stream Line, Modern and all points in-between can all be found in this one beautiful place. No other neighborhood I have ever seen, throughout the entire world, could ever boast such a display of residential Architecture!
Shocked and still amazed I continued on South through the narrows, La Salle becomes 16th or 15th it is rally hard to say. I crossed over I-94 on 14th and found my way back to 15th and took it till it dead-ended into Grand River. From there I did kind of a ‘Boomerang’ move northwest on Grand River one block to 16th and then swung in and continued south again. Crossing Warren, Forest and Buchanan the area is empty with a few houses darted inbetween the fields waiting the plow. I made my way to Butternut, (yes the white form of Walnut tree) and headed back east to 14th and on down to the River.
From that point it was a sprint, as the new viewing/recording was now done, as fast as I could peddle I passed many a mail truck rig along Jefferson Ave, onto the River walk, up the GM ramp and on through Greek town. I sharked on by the Park Bar and made my way to MCB for a break, water and refreshment. From there it was a sprint through Wayne State all the way back up 2nd to our new Palmer Home.
Bike Detroit! James Meyers bike explorer