When Farmington Hills resident Linda Yellin decided to turn her hobby of introducing people to Detroit neighborhoods and restaurants into a business, people thought she was crazy.
"Detroit had a bad reputation," said Yellin, who founded Feet on the Street tours in 2007. "I started the business never, ever expecting it to grow to this extent."
Friends, family and neighbors had for five years enjoyed her efforts to connect them with the city she learned to love as a Wayne State University student and volunteer at the Eastern Market.
"I saw that people were reacting differently from what they expected," she said. "We created opportunities for people to feel it was safe and convenient (to tour the city)."
Yellin started out working mostly with women's groups, schools, temples and other suburban groups. The first few years, she said, "there wasn't the excitement going on that there is now."
She hired people to handle her website and other aspects of the business, so she could focus on creating and leading tours. Recently, Yellin has been busy enough to hire part-time guides, but she does most of tours herself.
The most popular tours have been the Eastern Market "Come Hungry, Leave Happy" tour, and "Prohibition and All That Jazz," which includes a visit to a former speakeasy and a modern jazz club.
The upcoming "Detroit Elegance" tour, on Oct. 10 and Nov. 6, shows off the opulence of "Detroit's own Downton Abbey", the Charles T. Fisher Mansion, and a Brush Park mansion built for a Jewish merchant in 1872. A tour bus picks up from Bloomfield Hills and the lobby of the Fisher building in Detroit.
Yellin believes her business is "really growing hand in hand with what's happening now in the city ... as people are looking more for the positive, there's more willingness to put their feet on the streets of the city."
Learn more about other upcoming tours, and how to book a private tour, at enjoythed.com.