People fishing and relaxing at Mariner Park on the Detroit River. Credit: Zaire Talon Daniels
It’s a sunny summer afternoon in Detroit (here’s hoping the weather is agreeable for the holiday weekend) — where do you go? You could try Belle Isle, but it might be closed, and it will definitely be crowded. If you’re looking for your next favorite outdoor spot, we’ve got you covered. Planet Detroit’s weekly park reports bring you on-the-scene dispatches from parks big and small, all over the city — the good, the great and the occasional trash pile. Check out five of our recent faves, and stay tuned to Instagram for our next ones. Then grab a picnic blanket, skateboard or your dog and get out there!
Bishop DIY Skatepark
This week I journeyed to Bishop DIY Skatepark located at 6017 Grand River Ave right behind Northwestern High School. Bishop Skatepark is the product of COVID-19 induced ingenuity! Started by Jamison Shaffer in April of 2021 and later with community participation, the park transformed what was once any other slab of derelict Detroit concrete into a paradise for skaters, rollerblades, and BMXers.
The park features a grungy midwestern vibe showcasing graffiti, psychedelic murals, and textural elements. “No Abusers” can be read in large crimson letters, denoting that this park was a passionate endeavor dedicated to those who love to skate and look to preserve the spot. Included in the course are rails, boxes, quarter pipes, and other obstacles.
While out at the skatepark I met brothers Jacob and Ted Hardwick from St. Clair Shores. They told me, “This was our first time skating here, we just got into skating around the time of the pandemic. We’ve been to other places in Detroit but this spot has some great art!”
Located at 8501 E Canfield St., Pingree Park is a small park great to take your kids to on a hot day. The park features mature trees that completely shade sitting areas and the playground, allowing kids to play and grown ups to supervise without getting too warm in the sun. Attached around the park are flyers showcasing upcoming events geared toward youth and teens. I saw one flyer announcing a 3 on 3 basketball tournament set for June 26th and also classes for Jr. cheerleading happens here at the park. Pingree Park is complete with a picnic barbecue station, basketball courts, playground, and baseball/soccer/football fields.
This community is really tied into their parks and recently neighbors have asked the Detroit Police Department to monitor reckless driving that takes place in the neighborhood. When driving to the park, make sure you slow down for the speed bumps.
Another thing I noticed while being out at Pingree is the amount of trash that accumulates at the basketball courts. Discarded masks and empty water bottles seem to miss their mark on their way to the trash cans. (More photos)
Located at 14702 Riverside Blvd. is Mariner Park, a small green space which features a football/soccer area, playground, and fishing dock. Wednesday was a beautiful day to be by the water and enjoy the nice breeze. Families were out BBQing, fishing, and watching the many sailboats pass along the Detroit River.
Here I met James and Richard, two fishermen who have been fishing on the Detroit River since they were teenagers. James, now 60, recalls how fishing and getting to nature has helped him cope with stressful times in his life.
“Being out here is twofold. One, it allows us to catch fish for food, but it also allows us to meet in public in a relaxed atmosphere,” he told me. “As black men, this is important because there is so much that stresses us out these days, It’s important to have time to relax.”
Following the pandemic, studies show the importance of having access to green areas and recreation spaces positively affects mental health. In urban areas, it’s often difficult for people of color to have access to these spaces. Mariners Park is one place where these Black men can feel comfortable and at one with nature. (More photos)
This week I’ve taken the first request to check out a park from one of our readers — we love when our adventurers get involved! Beau recommended we visit Skinner Playfield located at 12800 Kelly Rd. in the neighborhood of Denby.
This space is unique. It wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the efforts of the Denby students, along with their teachers and neighbors who envisioned the plan for this park.
These folks transformed Skinner Playfield, once a six-acre practice pitch, into a lively park safe for kids from the surrounding areas to walk to their nearby school, Denby High School. There is a playground area where I met eight cousins who were playing on the swings (which by far was my favorite recess activity as a youngster!)
Also featured in the park are two basketball courts, the football/soccer field, walking path, and picnic area which is exquisitely completed in a modern architectural style featuring rigid triangles. The swooping diagonal patterns suggest the rush of kinetic motion, as seen in the body during play! (More photos)
At the crossroads of industry and international commerce lies the scenic patch of Riverside Park located at 3085 W. Jefferson Avenue, directly underneath the Ambassador Bridge. This 29-acre stretch includes a skatepark, playground, dog park, basketball court, and picnic area. Visitors can reach the Detroit River’s edge parallel to the park across a barren railroad crossing, where a pavilion, fishing access, and a boat launch appear.
I met a set of skateboarding cousins who lived nearby and used the names Jelly, Jahna, and Smurf, who had just learned about Riverside’s skatepark.
“There aren’t many skateparks around here. We used to go to Southfield to skate before we found out about this one,” they told me. Smurf, the oldest, has been skating for years and instructs the others on the proper technique. He says the most rewarding part of skateboarding is seeing your progress while dealing with pain, and feeling embarrassed when you make mistakes.
Sounds like a great allegory on life!
Visitors to this park can’t help but get lured in to see people hitting sick moves. The sound of the board on concrete and the anticipated reaction of the skater feed crowds of spectators with awe as they meander throughout the park. Trash is a major concern here, and multiple liquor bottles line the perimeter of the park. I saw geese grazing, dodging the rubbish on the ground while families barbecued alongside. The scene seemed natural — people living with our dependence on plastics and oils as they erode the natural ecosystem. (More photos)