DETROIT - When someone who has never been to Detroit asks you about the city, what do you tell them?
Do you wax poetic about the city's proximity to the lake? Its casinos, restaurants, museums and world-class sports teams? Or, do you bash it with the best of them and derail the city for its high crime and poverty rates?
With the city on display during the recent 2012 auto show, Local 4 producers armed with hidden cameras went out on the town to see what other Detroit natives would say to out-of-town visitors.
There were many who sang the city's praises:
"You may hear on TV it's a very rough city to be in, but Detroiters are probably one of the more friendly people around," said one taxi driver.
Another recommended Slows Barbecue with gusto.
"It's cool, Detroit's a cool place. It's coming back, it really is," said a concierge.
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As it turned out, most people we asked told visitors they loved their city. However, those who had safety concerns shared them with strangers from other states.
"I was born and raised in the city and no matter where you go, there are going to be good parts and bad parts," said one native.
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And then there were some who all-out bashed the Motor City.
"The worst large city I must say," said one cab driver, who went on about how bad the city is. "Bad schools, poverty, institutions… certain situations where a gun is a matter of surviving and not surviving."
When we told him about some of the good things we heard about, like the sports stadiums, casinos, restaurants, museums and Campus Maritas, he continued to come down on Detroit.
"Detroit is the Cuba of America. The Haiti of America."
This driver wasn't the only one beating up on the city. Another said Detroit has no "rules or regulations." A third said someone stole three Mercedes from the auto show last year.
Dr. Gerald Shiener, a local psychiatrist, said when people bash the town they live in, it usually says something more about the person than the city.
"They'll try to externalize or try to blame something else," Sheiner said. "I'm living here, it's winter, it's terrible, it's dingy, when really they're not happy with themselves."
He said confident, happy people are more likely to brag about their hometown.
"You're never more than six miles from a lake, there are a lot of recreational opportunities, we have beautiful summers, we have four seasons," he said.
Detroit has its issues, but it also has plenty to offer outside visitors. Anyone can rattle off the problems here, but we are also educated on the positives. No one we spoke with mentioned the Detroit Institute of Art, The Gem or Fox Theatre. Very few seemed to have a real understanding of all the things Detroit has to offer.
"Our increase in occupancy has been the largest than anywhere else in the country," Detroit Visitors Bureau CEO Michael O'Callaghan said. "There's a new interest in this city created by the creative class."
O'Callaghan said he knows the local media and residents are often hard on Detroit.
"Oftentimes we are our biggest critics," he said. "Individually or as a community and we have to get off of that."
He said most people don't realize some of the great things that are taking place in our own backyard.
"Ninety-five percent of residential facilities, condos, houses apartments that are available from the riverfront up to the new center are all sold out," he said.
He said out of civic pride, we should pay closer attention. He says to visit and be knowledgeable about the jewels of the city, because you never know if the person asking you questions about the Motor City is about to write the next big national story about Detroit.
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