This Week on One Detroit:

Riverfront East Alliance reflects on 20-year beautification of Detroit Riverfront

Detroit’s riverfront is one of the city’s main attractions. The riverfront attracts an estimated 3.5 million people each year, according to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. Along with a popular riverwalk, which has been named the nation’s best riverwalk by USA Today for three years running, there are multiple parks and a famous concert venue right on the river. However, back in the late 90s, there was another plan for the riverfront. 

Former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer planned to build a casino district along the river, which would have not only changed the view Canadians living in Windsor have, but it would have also impacted Detroiters living east of downtown near the river. A grassroots effort led by Detroiters called the Riverfront East Alliance – or REAL – came together to help put an end to that casino district plan. 

REAL comprised Detroiters from about a dozen neighborhoods, mostly on the city’s east side. The members said adding casinos to the riverfront would ruin the natural beauty of the area. There was also a concern about the noise, traffic, and crowds that might accompany casinos along the river.  

One Detroit contributor Bryce Huffman talks with members of the Riverfront East Alliance about their preservation efforts. 

Newlab at Michigan Central helps shift technology, entrepreneurial landscape in Detroit

Located next to the iconic Ford train station in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, Newlab at Michigan Central opened its doors in April 2023 and embodies the story of revitalization and transformation in Detroit.  

Newlab was built from the skeleton of a crumbling book depository and is now home to 90 startups in a range of industries from EV off-road vehicles to smart wheels built to streamline warehouse logistics.  

The facility helps entrepreneurs cut time off the development cycle of their products, Newlab CEO Cameron Lawrence said. One Detroit Producer Will Glover talks with Lawrence about efforts to make Detroit a destination for technology and innovation.

The Charles H. Wright Museum continues to enhance exhibits with technology, expand its theater

The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History – more affectionately called The Wright – has been educating Detroiters and visitors on African American history since 1966. The museum continues to expand, introducing new exhibits, bolstering its technology, and expanding its performance theater.  

The newest permanent exhibit at the museum is “Honoring the Life and Legacy of Judge Damon J. Keith.” The exhibit showcases the new innovative technology the museum is implementing, taking the viewer through the timeline of Judge Keith’s life from childhood to his service as a federal district judge.  

“What [the technology] would allow us to do then is whenever new information comes, let’s say on Judge Keith, we find out something we didn’t know about him, we’re able to go in and reprogram that, add the images, and have a very contemporary view of that subject,” Charles H. Wright Museum President and CEO Neil Barclay said. 

The Wright is also revamping its theater, leaning into performances, including music, poetry and film. “We doubled the size of the stage, we brought in all new state of the art theatrical equipment, surround sound equipment, equipment to be able to do film and to show movies in the theater,” Barclay said. “And more comfortable seats.” The General Motors Theater is now open and is also available for rent.

One Detroit contributor Sarah Zientarski sat down with Barclay to talk about how the museum continues to expand its programming opportunities and operations.

One Detroit Weekend: April 26, 2024 

Calling all football fans— the 2024 NFL Draft has finally landed in Detroit. Head downtown to take in the full NFL Draft Experience. While you’re downtown, you can also check out Sneaker Con Detroit at Huntington Place. 

Plus, there are a handful of upcoming productions and performances happening in and around the city. See what else is coming up on “One Detroit Weekend” with One Detroit contributors Peter Whorf and Cecelia Sharpe of 90.9 WRCJ.

Upcoming Events: 

  • The National Football League’s premiere event, the 2024 NFL Draft, takes place in downtown Detroit April 25-27. Admission to the draft is free with registration. 
  • The Tipping Point Theatre in Northville puts on a production of “The Squirrels,” a dark comedy about a family of squirrels. The play runs through May 5.  
  • The Farmington Players opens its production of “Something Rotten” on Friday, April 26 at the Farmington Players Barn in Farmington Hills. The play runs through May 5.  
  • The Detroit Symphony Orchestra brings country music to Detroit with its “Country Hits: Songs from Nashville” performances April 26-27 at Orchestra Hall. 
  • The 15th annual Sneaker Con Detroit takes place at Huntington Place in downtown Detroit on Saturday, April 27. 
  • The Detroit Institute of Arts hosts two nights of a drop-in workshop April 27-28 titled “Crayon Rubbings,” where you can make your own print using wax crayons and found objects.  
  • The Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts hosts a performance by Parsons Dance company on the main stage on Sunday, April 28. 
  • The Ann Arbor District Library Main Branch hosts a screening of “Attack from Space!” with a live score as part of the Kylyn Arts and Cultural Festival. 

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