by Fred Wurtzel
From the Editor: Fred Wurtzel is president of the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan. He may also be a member of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce—remember the video message of welcome from Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm at our convention last summer? In the following article he introduces you to his state and provides some truly astonishing facts about the host city and state for our 2009 convention. This is what he says:
I don’t know how many Braille Monitor articles have had Latin titles. I hope and believe this is the first one. I couldn’t resist using it since it fits the theme of this offering. As you know, Detroit, Michigan, will be the site of the 2009 NFB national convention, so it seems appropriate to provide a little background on our quite wonderful state.
Of course we must begin with a first that involves automobiles. The first car exported to a foreign country was built in Michigan. The car was a steam-powered vehicle built by Ransom E. Olds and manufactured in Lansing. Ransom Olds founded the Oldsmobile and the Reo Motor Corporations. Reo built some cars but was best known for its heavy trucks.
Michigan is first in production of cucumbers for pickling, tart cherries, spearmint, and dry beans, among other healthy agricultural products. In fact Michigan, the twenty-sixth state in land area, is number two in agricultural production.
In addition to our many automotive accomplishments, we are the home of the coffee percolator, Salk polio vaccine, America’s first shopping mall (built in Detroit in 1954 and called Northland), the first carbonated beverage (Vernor’s Ginger Ale, which Fred Sanders used when he invented the ice cream soda in Detroit), the world’s first urban freeway (Davison Freeway in Detroit), C. W. Post’s corn flakes (created in Battle Creek), and the Republican Party.
Michigan has more than 3,000 miles of shoreline on four of the five Great Lakes (more shoreline than any state except Alaska). We have more than 11,000 inland lakes for boating, swimming, and fishing. In fact, Glenn Lake in the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore is ranked as the world’s fifth most beautiful lake.
Michigan has the world’s busiest waterway (the Detroit River); the world’s busiest locks (Sault Ste. Marie), as well as the world’s biggest milk bottle, in the town of Norway.
We have Isle Royale National Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior, and Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore in northwest lower Michigan, near Traverse City. Michigan’s natural beauty rivals that of most any place you would care to name. We have wilderness and urban environments with world-class attractions.
Over the next few months the Monitor will carry articles detailing some specific points of interest. Here are a few of the Detroit area places that may interest readers. The Detroit Institute of Art recently completed a hundred-million-dollar renovation. It has eleven galleries filled with unique world-class works of art. Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, is within a stimulating walk from the convention hotel. Famous conductor Leonard Slatkin is the director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Orchestra Hall is near Comerica Park.
Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum make up the world’s largest indoor/outdoor museum complex. Edison’s laboratory, hundreds of antique cars, and operating steam locomotives are just a few of its attractions. It is a place for the whole family to spend the day and is reachable by public transportation from the hotel.
Everyone knows that Detroit is the home of Motown music and the Motown museum. Detroit is also a world center for electronic music (also known as techno). With such hometown talent as R. Kelly, Eminem, and Kid Rock, our popular music scene is thriving. Jazz is deeply rooted in Detroit with many world-class venues hosting performances nearly every night.
If casinos are your passion, you may be in luck. Detroit has three major casinos; the brand new MGM Grand and the Greektown casinos are easily accessible on the People Mover from the hotel. The Motor City in Detroit and the Caesar in Windsor require a bit more planning to enjoy but may be a good bet.
The People Mover is a monorail train that operates in the downtown area. The train comes to the second floor of the Renaissance Center and travels to Cobo Hall, to Joe Louis Arena (home of the world champion Red Wings hockey team), near the MGM Casino, near Comerica Park and Ford Field, through Greektown and returns to the Renaissance Center, our convention home. Many other attractions are accessible from the People Mover. You should watch future articles or check with the Michigan delegation for specific information.
Detroit is accessible by air, rail, and bus. Amtrak is especially attractive if you are coming from the west, with a direct connection to Chicago. Our Detroit convention will be in the heart of the downtown area. Walking is easy, and the People Mover and bus service are convenient. Restaurants, clubs, casinos, sporting events, museums, and much more are close at hand. Just outside the south entrance of the hotel is the RiverWalk, a beautiful walkway along the edge of the river, where you can observe ore and other freighters moving their cargoes up and down the river. Detroit offers something for everyone. A future article will provide details about our convention hotel with its large food court and many amenities.
Make your reservations early. You will want a room in the headquarters hotel. We in Michigan are anxious to serve you and welcome you to our city and state. We are proud of Detroit and of Michigan, and we want you to appreciate all we have to offer as much as we do.
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