Okay. Let’s just get this out there first. It’s much more fun to say “I’m going to a Soirée…” than to say “I’m going to a party.”
The word soirée itself suggests something outside the norm, something special, something magical. And Rivière28’s Soirée on the Greenway promises to be an incredible evening. But the name is appropriate for more than just that reason.
First, it’s French. And, as most everyone knows since we just celebrated birthday number 3-1-3, Detroit was founded as Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit on July 24, 1701, by Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac, a French explorer and adventurer. (Okay. It is also kind of cool to have a name like Antoine Laumet de La Mothe… and the title of Sieur de Cadillac.)
But the name of the event is also appropriate because a soirée is not just a party (specifically an evening party), but is one held for a particular purpose—such as a musical ensemble or an evening of dancing. While there will both live music (and dancing I’m sure, along with food trucks and a beer and wine bar), Rivière28’s Soirée on the Greenway also has an even cooler purpose: the net proceeds benefit the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, which helped to create and now helps to maintain the Dequindre Cut, a 1+ mile pedestrian link between the Detroit Riverfront and Eastern Market, which originally opened in 2009 and will eventually be extended all the way to Mack Avenue.
The name is also appropriate in its reference to a Greenway. In the 1800s, Detroit was referred to as ‘The Paris of the West’ because of its architecture—especially the buildings on Washington Bvd., which had recently been electrified by Thomas Edison—and its tree-lined boulevards that made up the radiating spokes that Augustus B. Woodward modeled after Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s . The trees that filled our streets and parks, and which line the Dequindre Cut, make the green appropriate. But the way in Greenway is also appropriate to the venue for this soirée.
The Dequindre Cut footpath (or bike-path—or, in the case of Little Dog, paw-path) was formerly the site of the Grand Trunk Railroad line. Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada was incorporated in 1852 to build a railway line between Montreal and Toronto, but this soon was extended to include subsidiary lines, which included the Grand Trunk Western Railroad Company. In 1859, the GTW began ferry service across the St. Clair River from Sarnia, Ontario to Port Huron, which ran until 1891, when the world’s first international sub-marine rail tunnel (over a mile long, and hand-dug) was complete. It was on the line from Port Huron to Detroit that a pre-teen Thomas Edison, who lit up Washington Blvd, had his first job as a newsboy and candy-seller circa 1816.
Grand Trunk also ran a ferry service on the Detroit River, connecting—or providing a way—between Detroit and Windsor, Ont., beginning in 1853. When the first side-wheel steam ferry (the Great Western) was launched in 1866, it laid claim to being the largest steel vessel on the Great Lakes. Another wayin which the way between the U.S. and Canada, between Detroit and our sister-city Windsor, was traversed—making the connection between us and our neighbors even stronger.
In fact, probably more important than all of the fun (albeit, fancy and French) to be had at Rivière28’s Soirée on the Greenway, are the connections that you will make. The connection to our history—from our founder to our greenspaces. The connection to our history of connecting places—Canada and Chicago. The connection to our tradition of going places—blazing new tunnels and ‘lighting them up’ with new technologies. And, of course, there is the connection you will make to other people who also live Downtown or visit Downtown and support the conservation of our beautiful city. But the most important connection you will make is to our city itself. To its past, to its present, and to its future.
A Greenway is also defined as being the “pleasant path, the ‘broad way,’” and what better way than a soirée on a 20-foot wide pedestrian-/bike-/paw-friendly byway to celebrate where our city is going, how it is getting there, and the people who are lighting it up and moving it on down the line into the future….
Don’t miss Rivière28’s Soirée on the Greenway, on Thursday, August 7th, from 6:00pm – 10:00pm. There are multiple ticket options, including Cash Bar and Open Bar, available at:www.soireeonthegreenway2014.eventbrite.com