by Joseph C. Krause

Between Downtown Detroit and Corktown is an anti-pedestrian zone framed by the MGM Casino and some not-very-well-designed “green space”, all overwhelmed by giant roads. Revolutionary War General Thadeus Kosciuszko greets visitors to one wedge of this ephemeral land, once a row of shops in Corktown’s “skid row”, later destroyed by the 1960s construction of The Lodge expressway.

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I think his statue is installed here so you can try to figure out how to pronounce “Kosciuszko” during your long wait for the Michigan Avenue bus. My partner Matt typically calls him “The Pole on the Knoll”.

As a pedestrian, this block is critical to connecting Corktown to downtown, because choosing the correct fork here saves blocks of walking to the East. So I pass by this on foot multiple times each week.

And for years, there has been this:

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“Oh man there’s kind of a lot of it.”

 

This stuff is coming up from under the grass, creating a mushy future sinkhole. Let’s look a little closer.

 

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“Oh J… Jesus!”

 

This is Kosciuszko Fountain, a slimy ooze seeping from the hellish nether-world below the casino and the IRS Downtown Computing Center, creating this semi-conscious slick of putrescent mung.

As the years have progressed, the seepage has worsened, continuing through the Winter even during the depths of the polar vortex. I called the city about it, and they were understanding, but too busy to address this issue.

On a walk to see some friends at The Lager House, the puddle demanded that I throw my money into it. I said, “Nuts to that, puddle!” and in a flash I was staring down the barrel of a gun. “Then throw in the whole wallet,” it snarled. I had no choice but to comply. Thankfully, I continued on my walk merely shaken, but unharmed physically. Out of sympathy The Lager House didn’t charge me cover to see The Red Elvises.

 

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Kościuszko assembled a 6,000-person army to liberate Poland and Lithuania from imperial Russia in 1794 not long after assisting the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War.

 

Then I got a call from the Detroit Public Library. Kosciuszko Fountain had checked out several books using my library card, including The Origins of the Urban Crisis by Thomas Sugrue. To my surprise, the library stated that no books checked out in my name had been overdue, but that they were returned rather moist and covered in mold spores which is the suspected culprit for a mysterious influenza that has caused several staff members to miss work and forget where they live. They gave me a stern warning that I should treat library materials more carefully in the future.

Some of my friends didn’t believe that a puddle could be so dangerous, but only nine days later a group of them had an encounter with the puddle again. This time one of them took this cell phone video:

 

 

Enough was enough. I called the city again and urged them to do something. At long last, they put up some orange barrels. Sometimes it takes simple persistence to get things done in this town.

 

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