New feature alert: The People's Guide is Curbed Detroit's tour o' the nabes, lead by our most loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other luminaries of our choosing. Have a piece to say? We'll be happy to hand over the megaphone. This week, we welcome Detroit photographers Michelle and Chris Gerard.
[All photos courtesy Michelle and Chris Gerard]
Tell us something we don't know about Corktown: If you're not familiar with Corktown, you probably only know us for Slow's, the train station, and the place where the Tigers used to play. We're also the oldest surviving neighborhood in the city and the site of original Detroit Zoo (formed from a defunct circus). It's home to dozens of great restaurants/bars, and maybe we're biased, but we have the two best coffee shops in the city as well.
Local customs of note: The Corktown Home Tour. Partaking or complaining about St. Paddy's Day activities—sometimes both. Loving the view of the train station even though you hate tourists visiting it as "ruin porn." Seeing everyone you know at Astro Coffee. Endlessly circling the block looking for parking.
Hidden gems in Corktown: Ponyride, a creative incubator that houses various artists as well as businesses such as Detroit Denim, Smith Shop, Floyd Leg, and Anthology Coffee—which also roasts its coffee onsite. They do tours every Wed at 2pm, but the coffee shop has regular hours.
Do you need a car to get around? Definitely not. While it's more difficult to live in Detroit without a car, Corktown itself is a small neighborhood and very walkable/bikeable.
Good for kids? We don't have any kids ourselves, but people that do seem to like it.
Beloved neighborhood joint? Our favorite that fits this description would be Mudgie's, which houses a sandwich shop, a wine shop, and our favorite bar. Other classics are St. CeCe's and PJ's Lager House, as well as newcomers Batch Brewing and Detroit Institute of Bagels. There are honestly too many to list.
Best park? We'd have to say Murphy Playlot as the most well rounded. While small, it includes seating, a playset, basketball court, and a small garden. Located across from Mudgie's, who does a great job at keeping the park beautiful.
Inflate the bubble or burst it: What's not-so-swell about your "perfect" neighborhood? The main thoroughfares that cut through our neighborhood are not very pedestrian friendly. Michigan Ave (the huge road down the middle of our neighborhood) was widened in the late 30s for a subway that never happened, making it feel more like a freeway than a neighborhood avenue.
The final word on Corktown: Corktown has an amazing and diverse community, full of both newcomers and people who have been here for decades. Community meetings are well attended, our historical society is active, and you can really feel that everyone truly cares about their neighborhood. There's really something for everyone and too much to contain in one article. You just need to experience it for yourself.