This Week on One Detroit:

Michigan Central Station reopens after historic six-year transformation spearheaded by Ford

For three decades the Michigan Central train station sat vacant in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, falling into deep decay. Then in 2018, Ford Motor Company purchased the station to begin transforming the iconic building and surrounding area into a campus for mobility and innovation.  

Ford put $950 million into the campus, which includes Michigan Central Station, New Lab at Michigan Central, the surrounding parks and other amenities in the area, a company spokesman said. The six-year renovation took approximately 3,100 construction workers. During the process, millions of gallons of water were removed from the building. 

The reopening of Michigan Central Station on June 6 is being celebrated with a concert featuring notable Detroit artists like Big Sean, Jack White, Diana Ross, the Detroit Youth Choir and several others. The concert is being produced by Eminem and Paul Rosenberg. After June 16, the first floor will be open for tours on Fridays and Saturdays through the summer. 

One Detroit’s Will Glover and Chris Jordan took a tour led by Michigan Central CEO Josh Sirefman and Head of Place Melissa Dittmer, who leads planning, design, construction and development of places and spaces in Michigan Central. The pair discuss the restoration process and the building’s history.

2024 Detroit Jazz Festival artist-in-residence Brian Blade looks ahead to Labor Day weekend performances

Drummer, composer, and bandleader Brian Blade is the artist-in-residence for this year’s Detroit Jazz Festival. This two-time Grammy Award winner musician is set to take center stage during the Labor Day weekend festivities. The 2024 festival will take place from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 in downtown Detroit.  

Raised in Shreveport, Louisiana, Blade grew from his gospel roots to becoming one of the most revered jazz drummers in the nation. As the 2024 artist-in-residence, Blade will participate in multiple performances and engage with educational initiatives and community outreach programs spearheaded by the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation. 

Among the highlights of Blade’s residency was a special festival preview event at the Gretchen C. Valade Jazz Center on the Wayne State University campus April 10 featuring a performance by Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band. Watch a portion of Blade’s performance here. Blade’s band, The Fellowship Band, includes a discography spanning 25 years, with seven critically acclaimed recordings. From their debut album in 1998 to the latest release, “Kings Highway” in 2023, Blade and his ensemble have consistently pushed the boundaries of jazz, captivating audiences worldwide with their innovative sound.

After a workshop at Wayne State University, Blade sat with John Penney of 90.9 WRCJ to discuss the journey that led him to play alongside some of those who greatly influenced his jazz career, such as Wayne Shorter and Joni Mitchell. Blade stresses the importance of musical influence and with the opportunity to run a workshop at Wayne State University, he aimed to pass on the same inspiration that fueled his own success. Listen to their full, extended conversation on-demand on 90.9 WRCJ.

From Detroit to Jackson to Flint, Coney dogs have their own unique origin stories

The origin of Detroit’s Coney Island hot dogs goes back more than 100 years, thanks to some Greek immigrants who ventured first to Coney Island New York, sampled hot dogs there, came to Detroit and started selling them. However, Coney Island hot dogs in Flint and Jackson have a different origin. In his book, “The Flint Coney, A Savory History,” Michigan Coney dog historian Dave Liske explains the Coneys there were created by Macedonians, not Greeks, and that difference comes out in the presentation and flavor of the hot dog toppings.

Liske said the chili sauce in Flint is based on a Macedonian stew. He recounted how the Balkan Wars of 1908 and 1913 drove both Greeks and Macedonia out of their countries, some coming to the U.S., explaining how Coney Islands came to Michigan. Meanwhile, in Jackson, Macedonian immigrants established the Jackson and Virginia Coney Island restaurants near the train station there. Local accounts say Jackson’s Coney Island hot dogs date back to 1914, a few years before Detroit’s American and Lafayette Coney Islands got started.

Brittany Craig manages Jackson Coney Island. “I’ve heard all kinds of different stories,” she said. “I wasn’t here in 1914 so I can’t confirm any of them.” Virginia Coney Island owner Joe Matthews said he’s had to rely on what he’s been told. “The documentation was destroyed at city hall when they had a fire years ago,” he said. 

One Detroit’s Bill Kubota headed to Flint, Lansing and Jackson to learn more about Michigan’s Coney Island hot dogs. He checks out Flint-style coney dogs at Gillie’s Coney Island in Mount Morris and Starlite Coney Island in Burton, two locations adjacent to Flint, but if you’re looking for a place to do a side-by-side taste test, Sparty’s Coney Island in Lansing offers both Detroit and Flint style coney dogs.

One Detroit Weekend: June 7, 2024 

June is Pride Month, and the Motor City Pride Festival is coming up this weekend in Hart Plaza. You can also meet some of Detroit’s past and present sports stars at the Detroit Sports Spectacular. Plus, there are a handful of summer festivals to check out including the Motor City Irish Fest, Gulyás Festival and Vintage Fest. One Detroit contributor Peter Whorf of 90.9 WRCJ shares more events coming up around town on “One Detroit Weekend.”

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