Driving down Ouellette Ave. you get the sense of being in a metropolis. Buildings tower higher and higher above the street the further north and the closer to the downtown you seem to get. Then Oulette opens up to Riverside and you realize that a wide river divides you from the rest of the skyline and that between where you stand and where the city continues is an international border. You see that where you are is all there is. A city stunted in its growth, infested by a rash of “for lease” and “for sale” signs. This is a city with a 13% vacancy rate. This is Windsor.
Looking back at the city you see decrepit apartment buildings, bland run down office buildings, and two clean and radiant towers rising from the east. The dissonance is striking. The two skyscrapers are modern, slick and bright white. Their blue tinted windows and unblemished pure exteriors shine in the late day sun. They are beacons of promise and prosperity amongst the grey and brown of the old city. They belong to the casino.
At night it’s even more dreary. The walk into downtown is described as a trek into Mordor. The towers rise above the dark wastelands, casting a blood red glow on everything. The powerful neon “Caesar’s” signs on top of the casino are so strong they illuminate buildings in another country, across the river. Waving at the sky are a half dozen spotlights, luring travelers into its trap. That’s all there is in Windsor: gambling and drinking. The city has a suicide rate well above the provincial average.
And for a moment I thought about living there. It would be cheap, I would be free of distractions, and I’d be a river-crossing away from a quality NHL team.