To start off the “It’s So Cold in the D” series, it would be only fitting to talk about a focal point in Detroit, the center of it all, Campus Martius Park. Following the Fire of 1805, Judge Augustus B. Woodward established Campus Martius Park as the “Point of Origin”, from where all of Detroit’s major avenues radiate, and around which the city was developed. Several important Detroit commercial buildings such as the Compuware and Quicken Loans Headquarters, One Kennedy Square Buildings, and the Penobscot Building surround this mixed-use space. The original park was demolished in the past, but in 2004 it was redeveloped to carry on its downtown traditions.
It is truly a sight to see, with all of the hustle and bustle of the park surrounded by the contemporary and historical architecture. The Park’s atmosphere is really indicative of the rest of Detroit’s downtown atmosphere and appeal.
The winter (well all year) means a lot of things to do at the Park, from events to restaurants to family activities. One of the most exciting park amenities is the ice skating rink that is able to fit 200 people – the Park also boasts a giant Christmas tree during the holiday season, and a tree lighting event in November. To liven up winter and create a little downtown fun, Campus Martius also has Motown Winter Blast in February. This event offers live outdoor bands, ice-skating, marshmallow roasting, ice carving, as well as several food and drink vendors. It seems like a great way to make it through the long, cold months in the D.
Neighboring the Woodward Fountain in the middle of the Park is Fountain Bistro. The restaurant is a haven away from the cold Detroit air when it is time to take a break from the outdoor festivities. The food is delicious, the staff is friendly, they have some lovely beers on tap, and an extensive wine list. Right outside the bistro are raised fires for roasting marshmallows and warming up after playing outside, and while the tree is up for the holiday season, the view is rather magical in the crisp air of a Detroit winter.
Going to Campus Martius is like experiencing a lot of Detroit spirit at once: there are always lots of people, plenty of events year round, and a real vitality to the space. When it’s so cold in the D, one can’t deny finding that kind of constant enthusiasm is a great fillip. The Park has a bevy of events planned throughout the summer, so the versatility of the space is endless. Find out what’s next on their Facebook page, follow the Park on Twitter, or visit the website.
~Joanna Dueweke, Feature Writer