Placemaking’s Ripple Effect: How a Beach Downtown is Making Waves in Detroit

At first glance, a Google image search for the term “Detroit” returns an alarmingly one-sided portrayal of the Motor City. Photographs of crumbling buildings dominate so much that other parts of the story – a Tigers game, a skyline view, a Diego Rivera mural – fade into the background. Scroll a bit further and one image breaks through the monotony – a beach.

For the second year in a row, there is a seasonal beach in downtown Detroit complete with sand, colorful seating and umbrellas, a beach bar, and a custom deck. It sits at the southern end of Campus Martius Park, the vibrant public space that has helped spur major reinvestment and redevelopment efforts in surrounding blocks since it opened in 2004.


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