Today, my good friend Ellen took my family and me around Detroit to visit a few neighborhoods and places that she thought we might be interested in. Our first destination was the Heidelberg Project, which is on Heidelberg Street. The neighborhood is just east of downtown Detroit near Gratiot Ave. and Mack Ave.
It was a beautiful two square blocks of decorated homes and lots filled with sculptures. Colorful dots and other images were painted on houses, sidewalks, and wooden panels. Faces and crosses were painted on the sidewalks and street. The empty lots were filled with all kinds of different sculptural "installations." The artist who created the Heidelberg Project, Tyree Guyton, cleaned up houses and lots in his neighborhood around Heidelberg street in 1986 and turned the "junk" he gathered into art - shoes, tires, telephones, an oven, toys, cars, scrap metal and glass bottles. He used all these items to transform an impoverished neighborhood into a beautiful and inspiring place. His work was initially in response to the damage that took place in Detroit during the Detroit riots in 1967.
Sorry, I have no photos up yet of the Heidelberg project. My 6 year old son only got in two pictures before the battery died in my camera. Bad planning on my part! So, Ellen is planning on sending me some of her photos, and then I'll be able to post those. But the Heidelberg Project website has some nice photos.
After walking around there for while, we drove around downtown a bit, through Harmonie park area, then headed for the Michigan Central Station. This was a huge transit station in downtown Detroit active from 1913-1988 which rivaled Grand Central Station in New York, in size and traffic. The building is fenced off, but seems pretty easy to get into. Clearly we did not venture past the fence with our three children in tow. However, we did take a lovely family portrait outside the vandalized, broken down building! It made me laugh to think about how we spent our Sunday together, exploring the remains of an abandoned train station.
We then walked under the train tracks of the station and found that we were really close to Mexicantown, which was our next stop for food! So we walked back to our car and drove under the tracks, past this bright blue adobe house for sale, and into Mexicantown for some eats. After this we drove around downtown a bit more and then headed up to Royal Oak for some chocolate at a sweet shop and then home for some tea.
It was a great tour of some interesting spots in Detroit. It's great to be getting to know the city some more and to be venturing into so many diverse areas.