The Free Press’s Shawn Windsor pays tribute to the soon-to-be-demolished Joe Louis Arena and Palace of Auburn Hills this morning. Windsor’s essay hits all the right nostalgic notes:
A chain-link fence hugs the spot where steps once rose to its main concourse. Which means Joe Louis Arena no longer has a front entrance.
Not one you could get to without a crane, or maybe a catapult. And when the arena was full and lit and the Detroit Red Wings were humming, you’d probably have given anything a shot to get inside, right?
Now you can see inside from the street. Across the torn-up floor where the ice used to be, all the way through to the back, where the Detroit River flows by.
The view is startling, dark and musky above, a sliver of light below, filtering through the portions of disassembled steel and concrete. The view is bittersweet as well.
Not because of love for the building itself, a cramped and forlorn arena built from haste and a decade-long lapse of civic-minded architecture, but for the teams it housed, and for shepherding the return of Hockeytown.