Detroit area residents can learn more about the history and architecture of the Eastern Market area during Preservation Detroit Eastern Market walking tours at 10 a.m. each Saturday May through September.
The Eastern Market tours are just one of several walking tours put on by Preservation Detroit to celebrate Detroit’s history.
Preservation Detroit board member Jennifer Ruud said the group started in the 70s as “Preservation Wayne” when a group of Wayne State University students wanted to save the David McKenzie house, named after the first dean of the college, from demolition. The group later expanded its mission to preserving historic structures throughout the city, changing its name to Preservation Detroit.
Then, in 2001 when Detroit was hosting celebrations for Detroit’s 300th birthday, Preservation Detroit board members decided that Detroit shouldn’t be the only large metropolitan area in the Midwest without a walking tour. Since then, the group has hosted a variety of tours with different themes, including arts and culture and bicycle tours, but the Eastern Market walking tour is a favorite.
Tour leader Lisa Rush says they try to cap the tours around 20 people so the experience is more personalized.
“We talk about the history of the market and the fact that it is the oldest and largest open-air market in the U.S. We’re always thrilled to point out that the record for that is held by Detroit,” Rush said. She also talks about what was going on in the city before the market was established, including the fact that a cemetery, several breweries, and a large German community, including German churches and German-owned businesses, were located in the area that is now Eastern Market. Rush said the tours don’t actually go through the middle of the market, because it would be too chaotic and they’d likely lose people from the tour group as they stopped to browse. “We talk to them about what the market has planned for the future and tell them how to shop at the market, with specifics for each season,” Rush said. “Then we let them go shopping or give them recommendations for lunch or further shopping.”
Participants meet a volunteer guide at the Welcome Center between Sheds #2 and #3 at 1445 Adelaide. Tours last about two to two and a half hours, cover about a mile, and are held rain or shine. The cost is $12 for Preservation Detroit members or $15 for non-members.
For more information about Preservation Detroit, visit preservationdetroit.org. To purchase tour tickets, visit shop.preservationdetroit.org.
~Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in southeast Michigan. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.