While waiting to have some canvas stretched outside of Flint, we decided to steer the print mission towards the Motor City. Passing by the exit for 8 Mile headed downtown and actually listening to some old Em at 4:30 PM on a Thursday, one would expect heavy traffic… or at least some traffic.
The city is full of beautiful architecture, huge world-class and historical buildings, but yet the streets seemed empty. You can stand there and imagine what it looked like in the past – when industry, nightlife, and the entire city was booming. Detroit is on a comeback. You can sense great pride from the locals and it was nice to see development and positive work being put in.
After getting 2 hours of sleep and driving 6 from Chicago, the logical thing to do at 11 PM is go find some manhole covers. Picked up my buddy Nick and found a few beauties in the East Market area close to downtown. Did the first 2 prints and cleaned up for the night, only to walk around the corner to find this one. At that point it was almost 2 AM and the rain was set to start early. I asked “What are you doing in 3 hours?” If all Detroit peeps are as cool as Nick, this city has a lot going for it. Without hesitation he replied,“I’ll be up, come get me.”
Caught the sunrise while mixing ink in front of his place at 5:15. We completed the mission with satisfaction considering it was only a 14 hour visit. Grabbed coffee then had the chance to see some more of the city – stadiums, MGM Grand, the General Motors building, and even the new 627 million dollar Redwings stadium under construction.
We then stumbled upon Michigan Central Station – constructed in 1913 for the Michigan Central Railroad, it was the tallest railway station in the world when it was built. It was surreal standing next to such a beautiful, ornate, and massive building surrounded by overgrown weeds and decay.
The station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and closed permanently in 1988. Despite its redevelopment being considered a key component of Detroit’s overall economic regeneration, any attempts to do so have never made it beyond the negotiation phase.
In 2009, Detroit City Council passed a resolution for expedited demolition. In response, Detroit resident Stanley Christmas sued the city to stop the demolition, citing the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The station’s future is currently unclear. Still beautiful in it’s current state, it’s a reminder of the past and present while providing vision and hope for the future.
Maybe we should take some of the millions going into new sports stadiums and start investing into important pieces of history, art, and culture. Now that would make America great.
Original Artwork is ink on canvas.