Monday, June 27, 2011

Gold Cup Final

The Gold Cup final game was one of the best games I have seen the US play in a while.  Although we did not get the result we wanted, the game was fast, furious, and full of excitement for 90 minutes.  Most USA games tend to start slow and build up as the US becomes more comfortable during the game.  The first 20 minutes were obviously the USA’s best part of the game and they scored the first two goals right out of the gate.  Adu had wonderful distribution, Dempsey and Donovan made decisive and creative runs, and the defense played moderately well, with Lichaj and Cherundolo pushing the ball up the flank to create many chances.  But that was all the US could do. 

Blame will obviously be placed on Bornstein, but honestly, as other reviews have cited, the bottom line is the US was thin when it came to back-ups fullbacks.  Yes I have never been a fan of Bornstein, but would Spector play better if put in the same situation? I don’t think so.  Neither Spector nor Bornstein played a single minute during the tourney, so I would argue both would have trouble coming into a game that already was being played at 110% percent and trying to adapt.  I think it was a tough situation. The defense just broke down as soon as Cherundolo came out.  Granted, Mexico came out guns blazing and had a few chances before the US first goal, but once Bornstein came in, the defense looked disrupted.

On the other hand, I will blame Bradley and Jones for not helping more. I think after Bradley’s goal he was not really a factor in the game, and Jones never really did nothing special in my eyes. I think they both played well all tournaments but neither came out for this game.  Maybe fatigue played a factor.  I also could see Edu coming in, and moving Jones back as a center back and then moving Bocanegra over, leaving Lichaj on the same side.  I just think that could have been a possibility, and Edu saw playing during the tourney, so that could have provided some better experience.  Just my thought. 

As a USA fan, I must automatically hate Mexico, BUT they were very fun to watch and I believe they could be a major threat in the 2014 world cup/ future of world soccer.  They are relatively young, they have two phenomenal strikers, and they play a great game of soccer.  I could see them being the Uruguay of 2014.  Dos Santos, Chicharito, and Barrera are very talented players and gave the US so much trouble.  Also Mexico played a very aggressive game and pressured the ball at all times.  It reminded me of Barcelona’s press when they give up the ball, usually you find 2 if not 3 defenders surrounding the ball when a team tries to hold it up.  It happened a lot against the US. 

Overall, I felt this was a good tournament for the US. They bounced back from a bad loss to Panama and a un-enthusiastic win against Guadalupe.  They found three players (Bedoya, Adu, and Lichaj) that I believe should become either regular roster spots for big games or should at least receive many more looks/chances to get onto the roster. I think they all played well and all showed Coach Bradley that they are ready to play more.  I also want to see Ream and Agudelo play more.  Ream had a bad start, and Agudelo played ok (I think he had a so-so game against Panama, and that is why Bradley elected to start Adu and Donovan at the top against Mexico), but I think with some more experience they will be great for the future of the US. 

It was a tough lost, but the better team won.  I think this rivalry will only get better because both teams are becoming bigger soccer threats in the world and I believe the next CONCACAF tourney will be great!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Back to the blogging world as USA goes back to the Gold Cup final

Ok so I have been very bad at keeping up with my blog for the past few months. The biggest reason was because of school, but since May I have been on my summer vacation (aka work) so that is a bad excuse.  I am going to try and do better from now on.  

Back to my one of my passions: Soccer

So the USA gold cup semi-final was on tonight.  It was a good game.  The United States Men's National Team (USMNT) struggled throughout the tournament so far. They played well against Canada (I attended), lost to Panama, and un-enthusiastically beat Guadeloupe in their last group stage game.  I must admit, I was skeptical of their finals run after watching their group stages.  After their impressive and dominant win against Jamaica where they unleashed a slightly different formation (4-2-3-1 with no Donovan in the starting 11) I was happy about their "if it’s not broken don’t fix it" mentality for their re-match against panama.  

Tonight game showed me three major points that the USMNT struggled with over the past year since their world cup exit (and some might argue even longer since the Confederations Cup second place finish).  First who are the main starters in the midfield and Defense?  Is Coach Bradley still on the hot seat, or is he a better coach then everyone gives him credit for? And finally, who is the future of the USMTN after players like Donovan and Dempsey become too old after 2014? 

First, it is obvious Lichaj and Goodson embrace their starting roles.  I would like to see Ream play more but I think their backline tonight is the best backline they have.  Goodson was not afraid to make goal saving tackles and always plays well in the air.  He also has decent distribution attributes in the back which allow him to move closer to the sideline as Cherundolo flies up the flank and Jones (or whoever is the CDM) hovers in the back to help out.  Lichaj also does well flying up his left flank.  He is obviously not perfect, and I believe the left is his weak side, so he has more work to do.  But overall he seems hungry and when given the opportunity can help stretch opponent’s Defenses and put pressure on during a counter attack.  Boca and Cherundolo are obviously done deals. 

As for the midfield, I think Jones is having a good tournament.  Tonight was not his best game, but he allows Bradley to play a little more offensive and I think that helps the US with Jones as a solid CDM with a great shot and good distribution powers and Bradley can be more of a quarterback and allow Jones to connect to Bradley who can then distribute to Dempsey, or the wings depending on formation. Similarly, Bedoya I believe has been the best player for the USMNT that was not a) initially on the team and b) usually is found on the bench.  I think he is always working hard, has great pace, good vision, and allows the US to stretch opponents on almost any offensive drive on his side.  Especially if Cherundolo is overlapping and then they can really stretch the D.  Also Bedoya gets back which helps Cherundolo.  

Kljestan did not have a good game and I think Donovan was the perfect sub but Kljestan played well against Jamaica and I think can be a great player in the future.  He is getting good experience now, which is helpful.  

Coach Bradley's move at half time and then in the 65 min (or whenever Adu came in) were the two best moves by him this tournament.  I know Donovan came in off the bench in the Jamaica game but Donovan had a larger impact this game (assisting the winning goal by Donovan).  Also Adu had a major impact setting up the first goal, and working the right wing with some accurate passing and good creativity.  Bradley proved he is a solid coach when he did well in the Confederations Cup and made it to the knock out stages in the World Cup.  Some of Bradley’s criticisms are he is too complacent when it comes to formations and starters.  He also tends to be more defensive than aggressive.  But tonight showed he is willing to take risks, first by not starting Donovan (who by all accounts had lack-luster performance in the group stages) and then substituting in Adu when the US needed an offensive boost instead of subbing in Edu to strengthen the defensive midfield.  I think Bradley is a great coach and I believe his philosophy with capping so many American players into the USMNT system will pay off in the long run. 

Finally, this game proved to me that there are a few notable players that seem to be ready to be consistent starters or can be future starters and will be (or hopefully) great bench players.  Lichaj, Goodson are two of them. As I mentioned above, I think they fit well in the system and are certainly playing better than Oneywu and Bornstein.  I think Ream will also be the future in the back and although he has played below his club level, I think he will break out eventually.  Bedoya is my biggest pick and I believe he should be a starter from now on.  If the midfield consists of Bedoya on the right, Dempsey in the middle and Donovan on the right (in a 4-2-3-1) I think that could be a dominant midfield.  Kljestan, although had a poor game, will be a good future player.  I am still unsure of Edu only because Jones and Bradley are both young and good.  Edu can be a great back-up but not a starter for right now.  I loved seeing Adu play well, but I need to see it more before I jump on his band wagon.  He can be great, we all know that, but can he be consistent? I would also like to see Wondolowski play, but I think Agudelo was a good sub for Altidore.  I do think Agudelo is a little weak as a single striker, I just don’t think he can hold up the ball as well as he tries.  He does better when he uses his speed and beats defenders to the corners. This does cause congestion problems for any of the wingers or LB/RB who are using the wings to stretch the Defense.  Otherwise I think Agudelo certainly has tons of promise and is only 18!!! Just hope we don’t “Adu” him. 

Overall, good win, but the US needs to be a little crisper if they hope to beat Mexico/Honduras.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

Transparent and Progressive Complete Streets Planning

This memo reviews Minnesota and Hennepin County’s planning process for implementing complete streets. To begin, Hennepin County and Minnesota’s historical infrastructure designs and standards proved to be a natural building block for implementing complete streets. In addition, Hennepin County and Minnesota serve as a great example of a Midwest County and State that systematically provides all levels of government with the resources and abilities to improve their existing infrastructure.  Starting with Minnesota’s Complete Streets Report, Hennepin County’s Complete Streets Resolution and Policy, followed by Minnesota’s Complete Streets Law, Hennepin County has the tools to successfully build complete streets on existing and future infrastructure.  Macomb County can refer to Hennepin County as a successful example of transparent and progressive planning, which allows complete streets to be implemented.

Briefly, Hennepin County is located on the eastern portion of the Minneapolis region.  It is home to the City of Minneapolis.  Hennepin County has the largest population, budget, and estimated market value compared to the rest of the Minnesota counties.[i]  Its estimated 2009 population was 1,156,212.[ii]  Over the past decades, Hennepin County worked hard to maintain access to safe and diverse modes of transportation.  Beginning in the late 1990’s the Federal Highway Administration developed a new set of principles, called Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS),  for states to recognize that transportation, community, and environmental goals should be treated equally.[iii] In 2005 the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) co-hosted the Midwest Context Sensitive Design and Solutions workshop to assist their State’s stakeholders in implementing CSS goals at the state, county, and local levels.[iv] Furthermore in 2008, Minnesota wanted to keep improving its infrastructure, mandating Mn/DOT to “study the benefits, feasibility, and cost of adopting a complete streets policy.”[v]

Complete Streets Components
Minnesota 2009 Complete Streets Final Report
The Complete Streets Report was compiled by the Commissioner of Transportation and the Mn/DOT Division of State Aid for Local Transportation in response to the legislative directive.  The goal of the report was not to create policy, but to ensure that Minnesota could effectively implement complete streets at every level of government.  The report summarized six key elements to assess the feasibility of complete streets:
·         Gather and assess a list for complete street resources.[vi]
·         Evaluate the State’s current design practices for complete streets.[vii]
·         Asses the maintenance and operations impacts of complete streets.[viii]
·         Analyze other state, county, and local complete streets policies and best practices.[ix]
·         Review the costs, benefits, and feasibility of complete streets.[x]
·         Advocate implementation of complete streets policy.[xi] 

First, the report found that funding resources are difficult to find, but may be obtained through various agencies and partnerships.  Although funding is difficult to obtain, Minnesota has strong infrastructure resources for complete streets implementation due to its previous CSS objectives. Next, the report stated that the design standards needed to be revised to eliminate inconsistencies and integrate all modes transportation.[xii]  In addition, the new design standards involved operations and maintenance staff to minimize long-term maintenance costs.[xiii] Furthermore, the report noted that no quantifiable benefit/cost analysis was performed, but they considered from other case studies that complete streets benefits outweigh their costs.  This allows the report to note, “Complete streets are considered feasible on the state, regional and local levels.”[xiv] Finally, the report explains that a Complete Streets policy must stress the importance of improving the safety for all user of the street.[xv] 

2009 Hennepin County Complete Streets Resolution
As Mn/DOT was preparing their Complete Streets Report, Hennepin County created a Complete Streets Resolution.  In December 2008, public officials from Hennepin County attended a Complete Streets workshop presented by national experts.  Afterward, officials immediately began drafting a resolution.  The Hennepin Complete Streets Resolution was passed by the local government in February 2009.  The resolution aimed to create a Complete Streets policy stating:
·         Hennepin County will adopt a Complete Streets philosophy to all transportation decisions to maintain a safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly transportation system.[xvi] 
·         Complete streets allow Hennepin County to support Active Living, which permits physical activity in daily routines such as walking and biking.[xvii]  
·         Transparency will be crucial in the successful adoption and implementation of Complete Streets policy.[xviii]
·         Hennepin County encourages local, county, and state governments to work together to make complete streets a reality.[xix] 

2009 Hennepin County Complete Streets Policy
After the resolution was passed, Hennepin County passed their Complete Streets Policy in July 2009.  The policy lays out six methods that Hennepin County will use to enforce and adopt their Complete Street Policy: 
·         Incorporate complete streets “principles and practices into transportation development projects.”[xx]
·         Assess and record existing corridors.[xxi]
·         Create a complete streets implementation procedure.[xxii]
·         Generate a complete streets evaluation method.[xxiii]
·         Re-evaluate Hennepin County’s roadside enhancement partnership program.[xxiv]
·         Integrate complete streets in the Transportation Systems Plan and other appropriate documents.[xxv]

By implementing theses measures, Hennepin County believes complete streets will bring a better quality of life to its residents. In addition to the resolution and policy, Hennepin County organized a Complete Streets Task Force to oversee the implementation of the 2009 policy. 

2010 Minnesota Complete Streets Law
In addition to the Complete Streets Report and Hennepin County’s resolution, policy, and task force, Minnesota passed a Complete Streets Law in May 2010.  The law frames five objectives for successful integration of complete streets in Minnesota:
·         Defines complete streets.[xxvi]
·         Creates a complete streets implementation policy after consulting with stakeholders, agencies, authorities, and governments.[xxvii] 
·         Requests a complete streets implementation report in the agency’s biennial budget submission.[xxviii]
·         Encourages, but does not require, local road authorities to adopt and implement complete streets policies.[xxix]
·         Gives the commissioner control over variances from engineering standards.[xxx]

The law also stipulates the commissioner of transportation shall submit reports to the members of the house and senate summarizing steps taken to improve the transparency of the complete streets implantation process.[xxxi]

Hennepin County and Minnesota serve as a great reference for Macomb County as they attempt to implement complete street policies. Hennepin County and Minnesota continually emphasizes transparency throughout all of their processes.  If Macomb wants to successfully implement complete streets polices, transparency must be a tool to highlight.  By allowing all units of governments to see what is going on, less time and resources are wasted trying to bring polices and implementation strategies to Macomb County and its municipalities.

Furthermore, the political system in Hennepin County and Minnesota is similar to Macomb County and Michigan.  Although they are similar, Minnesota and Hennepin County successfully integrates all levels of politics to focus on carrying out complete street polices.  Macomb County must strive to work with all levels of government to find agreement on how complete streets will benefit their area.   It is understandable that Macomb County has a rich auto-centric culture and will face substantial opposition to a drastic change in the transportation culture. Moreover, Michigan does not have the historical building blocks for an easy transition to complete streets, like Minnesota and Hennepin County.  Macomb will struggle to find most existing infrastructure already set up to handle complete streets planning.  This suggests that Macomb must work harder to achieve the same status as Hennepin, but certainly should not discourage any attempts to retrofit infrastructure to complete streets standards. 
Finally, Hennepin County and Minnesota accomplished their complete streets policies through a stage by stage implementation process.  This progressive planning process will be necessary for the future of Complete Streets in Macomb County.   Michigan has made progress by writing into law that 1% of all transportation funds be allocated to non-motorized infrastructure improvements.  This is not enough.  Macomb County must reach out to all of its municipalities and state government, to make others aware of the benefits that can come from progressive complete streets policies. 

[ii]U.S. Census Bureau. (2009). Quick Facts: Hennepin, MN.  Washington, DC.
[iii] Minnestoa Department of Transportaion. (2009, December). Complete Streets Report.
[iv] Ibid. Complete Streets Report.
[v] Minnesota Legislature. (2008). Complete Streets Chap 350 Sec 94. Minneapolis, MN.
[vi] Minnestoa Department of Transportaion. (2009, December). Complete Streets Report.
[vii] Ibid. Complete Streets Report.
[viii] Ibid. Complete Streets Report.
[ix] Ibid. Complete Streets Report.
[x] Ibid. Complete Streets Report.
[xi] Ibid. Complete Streets Report.
[xii] Ibid. Complete Streets Report.
[xiii] Ibid. Complete Streets Report.
[xiv] Ibid. Complete Streets Report.
[xv] Ibid. Complete Streets Report.
[xvi]Hennepin County Board of Commissioners. (2009, February). Complete Streets Resolution 09-0058
[xvii] Ibid. Complete Streets Resolution 09-0058.
[xviii] Ibid. Complete Streets Resolution 09-0058.
[xix] Ibid. Complete Streets Resolution 09-0058.
[xx] Hennepin County Board of Commissioners. (2009, July). Complete Streets Policy.
[xxi] Ibid. Complete Streets Policy.
[xxii] Ibid. Complete Streets Policy.
[xxiii] Ibid. Complete Streets Policy.
[xxiv] Ibid. Complete Streets Policy.
[xxv] Ibid. Complete Streets Policy.
[xxvi] Minnesota Legislature. (2010). Complete Streets Chap 351 Sec 52 &72
[xxvii] Ibid. Complete Streets Chap 351 Sec 52 &72.
[xxviii] Ibid. Complete Streets Chap 351 Sec 52 &72.
[xxix]Ibid. Complete Streets Chap 351 Sec 52 &72.
[xxx] Ibid. Complete Streets Chap 351 Sec 52 &72.
[xxxi] Ibid. Complete Streets Chap 351 Sec 52 &72.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Complete Streets, Macomb Style

So to begin, I am working on project in my “Fundamentals of Planning Practice” class that seems really interesting and fun.  My group consisting of myself, Will, Dianna and Jon are tasked with putting a Complete Streets tool box together for Macomb County, Michigan.  On Saturday, we went to Macomb County to visit our sites for a first part of our field investigation. 

To begin, Complete Streets attempts to better integrate all users of the street – pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, and drivers - so that all ages and abilities are able to utilize the street in a safe manner, whether traveling for practical or recreational purposes.  Since the 40’s streets have been designed specifically for the automobile.  Pedestrians have been accommodated throughout the years, first with sidewalks but then with many additions to sidewalks to make pedestrians feel safer.  For example, lighted streets, crosswalks, crossing signals, traffic cameras (to prevent cars from running red lights and killing pedestrians), and cross walk push buttons.   

Our project consists of two areas, Van Dyke Ave from 8 to 10 Mile and Garfield Rd from 17 Mile to Hall Rd., which we must look at and figure out what tools would be needed to implement a complete street.  These areas are principal arterial roads which carry thousands of cars a day and have little pedestrian and non-automobile facilities. 

View Complete Streets Sections in a larger map

We started at the Van Dyke site, and I noticed that the existing facilities were not as poorly maintained as I expected.  Most sidewalks were plowed, most cross walks were safe, traffic lights and signals all worked properly, and I was most impressed with the street lighting that was spread evenly throughout the strip.

Street lamps looked like this:

I was not impressed with the maintenance of the street corners, the terrible public transportation facilities, the lack of vegetation, and the overall abundance of vacant lots and/or buildings.  First, the street corners had piles of snow in front of most corners along the route.  Most corners seemed like they were newer or at least well paved and sloped to accommodate disabled people, but with the amount of snow in front of some of the corners, only a spry person on foot could navigate the rough terrain.  

Next, the public transportation signs and facilities were abysmal.  All the signs varied in maintenance, some were fine, and others were bent over and destroyed slightly.  Some signs were placed behind trees, so people would have a hard time seeing the signs from the road.  Additionally, there were only two transit shelters for people waiting for the buses.  These were both located at the 9 mile, but as you can see the transit centers were small, and did not look very inviting. 

Furthermore, the lack of vegetation made the area look more run down then it was.  With more vegetation, the area could look livelier.  Finally, like most areas surrounding Detroit, about a third of the buildings were vacant or for lease/sale.  This was not surprising.

After our Van Dyke excursion we moved north to Garfield Rd.  As we moved toward our second destination, snow began to fall, and we were only able to spend about an hour at Garfield before we left because of deteriorating road conditions.  What we saw on Garfield was very interesting.  Unlike Van Dyke, we saw a lot of vegetation, although it seemed to be privately owned, and overall a generally more pepped up atmosphere.  

The Garfield strip was more suburbanized in nature, although there were many similarities to Van Dyke. 

Like Van Dyke Ave., Garfield had little pedestrian activity.  The weather was a factor for this variable, but overall it seemed like the pedestrian infrastructures favored the driver rather than the walker or cyclist.  Parts of Garfield did not even have sidewalks! Additionally, the bus stops were well maintained, but were just a metal post with a small red sign attached to the top.  

There could be better ways to present public transit with more than just one small sign.  Also no signs had bus routes or schedules on them (same at Van Dyke).  Also, there were no bus shelters at all, making at least Van Dyke seem a little more practical.  In addition, there were many for lease signs, and it seemed like there were more at Garfield then on Van Dyke.  Finally, the biggest difference was the spacing of intersections.  Van Dyke was a 2 mile strip with 3 major intersections at 8,9 and 10 mile with about 2-3 intersections in between.  At Garfield there were 5 total intersections in a 3 mile span.  That a .5 mile gap between crosswalks! That is a long way to walk to be able to walk in a safe manner.  The intersections were well maintained but there was no way to safely cross a street except at the intersections. In addition, there were no major street lights.  All the lighting was privately placed making it problematic for people walking around at night.        

Overall it was a great trip and although it took us 3 hours to drive home, it normally takes 45 minutes, we enjoyed the time we spent together.  It was great to survey the land and get a feel for what we will be working with.  I can’t wait to go again and dive deeper into the project!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

City of Gold

Here is a nice complimentary video to my Detroit visit.  I completely believe Detroit is a "City of Gold"!!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Motor City Experience

On Saturday I had my first opportunity to visit Detroit, and I had a blast.  The original purpose of the trip was for a service learning project.  I am on the MLK committee at my graduate college, and because of my previous education and HWS’s commitment to volunteer work, I figured this would be a great group to join.  The Urban Planning MLK committee is a small group of about ten students (including myself) and one faculty member, who put together a roundtable discussion on January 18th and then was to follow that up with a service learning day on the 29th

On Saturday, 12 urban planners headed out to the Gradmont Rosedale section of Detroit to work with the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation.  To preface, my knowledge of Detroit is very limited, but growing.  I would like to learn more, am trying to learn more, but I certainly do not know any details about the neighborhoods or cultures of Detroit.  The Grandmont Rosedale area is a very nice area of Detroit and it was fairly evident while driving through residential areas.  The homes were not very big, but most were built with brick, and seemed like a middle class neighborhood.  We did not work as long as we would have liked, or planned for, but that was not because of lack of efficiency or resources.  In fact, to our surprise, when we arrived at the building to be briefed and get directions to our site, there were about 15 other volunteers eagerly waiting to get to the site as well.  So instead of a 6 hour service learning project, 15 volunteers and 12 urban planning students, filled an entire dumpster full of garbage, cleaned out an entire basement full of furniture and other items, cleaned out an entire garage, filled that garage with more things to store, and tore out the entire first floor carpeting within three hours.  It was a great effort by everyone!

Although our service project only last half the day, we decided to use the other half exploring a city that rarely gets the time of day anymore.  I instantly was mesmerized and excited for all the history, buildings, and experiences I would gain from my short visit. 

Here is a Google Map of our route and the sites we saw:

View MLK Service Day in a larger map

We ended our service learning around 12:30pm and left for the Eastern Market to get some lunch.  We were recommended to go to the Russell St Deli.  So we began our way toward the center of Detroit/ Eastern Market.  We started our downtown Detroit visit on Woodward Street right by Wayne State University.  Nothing too out of the ordinary popped in my head.  As we headed closer to the center, the GM Renaissance building popped its head above the skyline and I knew we were getting closer.  As we drove on Woodward, I noticed two major urban planning issues.  First, the road was extremely wide.  Almost as wide as a highway, and what I would soon notice is most major streets leading to and from the center of Detroit were like this.  The automobile truly shaped Detroit not just financially, but literally (although I knew this before I went, just had no firsthand experience).  Second, I noticed how poorly maintained these major thoroughfares were.  The streets (not just Woodward) were littered with potholes, some as small as a CD, others as large as a manhole cover.  If you were not careful, you could easily destroy a tire after driving on one of these streets. 

As we approached downtown, we turned toward Eastern Market and made our way past the sports stadiums, into what used to be the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects.  Before we came upon these edifices, I noticed a few run down stores, but nothing I had never seen before.  As we approached the old projects, I immediately noticed how empty they were.  Not one building had a full window.  No building was clean of graffiti or other forms of vandalism.  It was a ghost town.  It was the single most shocking picture I have ever seen in a city before, although not the last.  The Brewster projects are the epitome of Detroit’s identity.  Run down and empty, but I must clarify, I do not hate Detroit, I am merely stating what I saw.  Detroit is full of potential and I hope I can discover more, but the Brewster projects were a major imagine I will never erase from my mind.

After the projects we made our way to the Eastern Market.  It was a very nice area, with some people walking around and clearly activity going on.  I know little about the Market itself, but it seemed that it was an open air market area with large coverings where a large amount of people could come and get produce and other goods.  By the time we got there, the markets were not really up anymore because it seemed to be more of a morning operation.  

Although we were unable to discover the markets, we made our way to our lunch destination.  Russell St. Deli was a great place to eat.  Lots of traditional deli style food, with a major focus on Corn Beef and Pastrami.  I had a corn beef sandwich with some homemade slaw, amazing!  Great place to get some lunch.  Also next door was a great peanut place called Rocky’s Historic Eastern Market.  Originally it was a peanut place but has turned into a spices and peanut palace.  It seemed like a great place to find good cooking spices.  My dad would really like it. 

After we finished lunch, we continued with our windshield tour of Detroit.  We made our way down to the center of the city, looped around past Martius Park, and onto Michigan Ave.  Our next destination was the old Michigan Central Station.  As we drove down Monroe St. we saw the monorail that apparently links little of Detroit together.  This leads me to another big issue about Detroit, how little public transportation there is.  If I was not in a car, or did not own a car in Detroit, getting from the Eastern Market to Mexican Town would be almost impossible.  Even walking it would probably take a few hours.  Detroit is very spread out and this issue has hindered the ability of Detroit to land on its feet in the recent times.  Although the car companies might be out of major trouble, for now, people cannot easily get around and so it hinders development, which slows innovation, which ultimately kills cities.  I do not think Detroit will die, but it seems to have hit rock bottom.  If transportation was rejuvenated (although with what money) it might bring people back.  Just a thought. 

As we headed toward Roosevelt Park/ Michigan Central Station, similar themes kept popping up.  Abandoned store fronts, wide roads, poor maintenance and little activity.  This was all quelled by the startling and mesmerizing site of the Michigan Train Station.  This building was so beautiful it is hard to explain.  It was built at the beginning of the 20th century (1913) and this was evident by the large columns and city beautiful like architecture (it is actually Beaux-Arts style).  Again, like the Brewster Projects, this building had been abandoned, run down, and vandalized for the past 20 or so.  It was shut down in 1988.  Although this building has been back and forth between historic preservation and demolition, it is still around and should be appreciated by everyone.  It was maybe the coolest building I have ever seen.  Sounds stupid, but honestly not many buildings today stand out quite like Michigan Central Station.  The station was surrounded by very little, and it is so tall, it makes the building seem so much large than it really is.  In fact, the entire top part of the building was never finished even when the building was in service.  It must have been 20 to 30 stories tall.  Maybe more.  It was one of my major highlights of my Detroit experience.

Next door to the Michigan Central Station are an abandoned and  rundown Hotel and home.  Nothing too exciting about either of these two places except that I love adventures and apparently the house had an art installation in the back that was created by a University of Michigan student.  Anyway it was cool but it was nothing compared to the Station.

Finally we made our way to Mexican town, just to see what it was like, and it seemed nice.  There were a lot of Spanish and Mexican restaurants (hence the name of the neighborhood) but it still seemed like it was struggling. 

Overall it was great adventure.  I want to shout out all the people who participated in the MLK service day, and specifically the people in my van: Marilyn, Joe, Joel, Jake, Sylvia, and Anne! I had a great time with all of you and I hope we can do it again.  Also being stuck in between Canada and the USA is always a fun story (inquire within).  Great first trip to Detroit and I hope I can make many more.