Why “The Side Isle”?

Tue. 07 Dec 2010. 6:51 am

Ok so it’s been sometime since I started this blog and no one has even asked me why it’s titled “The Side Isle“.

Ahh…now that you finally asked.

The Side Isle” is a combination of two prominent areas in Detroit that our families are associated with.

The first part of the title refers to the “East Side” of Detroit. If you’re from Detroit then I don’t need to provide any more explanation.

If you’re not from Detroit then this next part is for you.

Detroit has four main avenues that radiate like spokes in a wheel from Detroit’s center in downtown – near where the old Hudson’s used to be. One spoke is Gratiot Avenue. And Gratiot is NOT pronounced Gra – te – ot. It is Gra – shit. And Gra is similar to saying “grab” but without the “b”. Notice the “shit” part? Kids just love that , “…hehehe snicker snicker you said shit” – remember?

Ok now everything east and partially to the west of Gratiot is considered the “East Side”.

The next spoke is Woodward Avenue. Pronounced locally as Wood – ward. So everything west of and partially east of Woodward is considered the “West Side”. Where the East Side and West Side connected I never could figure out. As a kid Mound and especially Ryan were pretty far away so maybe that is the dividing line? I don’t know.

The next two spokes are Grand River Avenue and Michigan Avenue. I’ll leave the pronunciations up to you. Now I don’t recall ever hearing there was a “Side” along those two spokes. To me Michigan Avenue was just someplace over there where Tiger Stadium, the train station and some really cool old house that was full of used books for sale was at.

Michigan Avenue? I don’t know – isn’t the airport and the huge Ford Plant over there somewhere and somehow connected more to Toledo than Detroit?

The second part of The Side Isle comes from something exclusive to the East Side of Detroit – and that is Belle Isle. Our connection to Belle Isle is a little more obscure. Odilon was a painter – and not just an artist type painter. I was told he painted the Belle Isle bridge at one time. Is that cool or what?

So there we go – The (East) Side (of Detroit and Belle) Isle.

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3 Responses to “Why “The Side Isle”?”

  1. kris Says:

    This was a great history lesson; but, didn’t we talk of this when I was visiting?


  2. I wanted to credit the person who took the Belle Isle bridge picture but for some reason WordPress is not allowing me to add a link to the picture. So here it is http://www.flickr.com/photos/71013169@N00/99485678/

  3. hrnewport Says:

    i especially liked the pronounciation of “gratiot”


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