Saturday, January 13, 2018

Urban Art Adventure: Welcome to Eastern Market and the Dequindre Cut

TaGeez had to work today, and I had the adventure itch. 19 degrees and partly sunny, I turned my car towards Detroit for a brisk walk on the East side. Even in these temperatures, the streets were packed with locals enjoying cheese from DeVries or Kalamata & Mozzarella Pizzas from Supinos. It's often forgotten that Eastern Market is located on what once was the Russell Street Cemetery. That all changed around 1855, and, now, Eastern Market is an institution.

As exciting as the smells and sounds are in Eastern Market, they don't hold a candle to the vibrancy of its murals. You could spend all day wandering the alleys and bi-streets seeing our local urban art. Well, I guess I shouldn't say "local"... artists come from all over the world to use Detroit as its canvas. And I respect that Detroit appreciates the mark it leaves behind.

WOW! So much talent and so many styles. How many people walk past these every day without looking? So hard to pick a few to share with you. With a pocketful of PBNs geocaches all ready for hiding, I set out to enjoy a little piece of the East side. 

Now, one fascinating thing about Eastern Market... as a central site for commerce in its heyday, it was conveniently located next to a rail line that has been since converted from rails to trails. The Dequindre Cut is a 3-mile round trip walking & biking path that runs from Eastern Market on the north to the Detroit Riverwalk on the south. 

Can you believe how quiet this is in the heart of Detroit's East Side? In my two hour stroll along the Cut, I passed only a handful of walkers and runners. Vastly different than the summer months when the pathway and the green will be teeming.

Yes, this is painted on one of the decommissioned bridges that once spanned over the railway.  

Each former bridge has a mural or series of tags unique in character and color. Some have aged very well...

 ... and some have not. If you look closely this one has seen better days. I would love to meet this artist. I suspect he's the same one that did the magnificent owl at the Lincoln Street Art Park. 

Unfortunately, "partly sunny" turned into "really cloudy" which made for photographing some of the murals easier to capture but very cold on base skin. I'm SO grateful TaGeez grabbed my Heat Keep thermals for me! 

As I neared the church south of Eastern Market I had assumed it would be time to turn around. I had totally missed that the new section that runs alongside Eastern Market had completed development and was open to the public. OH SO COOL! As cold as my cheeks were, I had to see what's ahead.

Well, this is new!

This mural was created by one of the local schools depicting the evolution of agriculture.  As you walk along the Dequindre Cut you can see quite a few of community gardens native to Detroit (they are everywhere! Have you been near the greenhouses near the Chene-Ferry Market? Worth the fieldtrip. RecoveryPark, a non-profit, has transformed 22 blocks from urban blight to urban farms). 

Believe it or not, I've only shared approximately 10% of the photos taken today. Welp! Almost to the North end of the trail - time to turn around. Cool to see new entrances and sitting areas along the new section. 

I can't wait to see what they are doing with the factories they are renovating along the way. Some look like they may be converted to retail or lofts - wouldn't that be cute? That would remind me of those fun and funk shops near Newport, Kentucky. Others are fenced off but the taggers seem to find a way. 

I've decided it was time to call it a day. Can't help feel like I'm being watched...

As I ended the 3 mile trek and continued onto my car I glanced over and realized this was a new view of the RenCen for me. If you are from Michigan, you give directions using your hand (which is the same shape as the Mitten State). If you are from Detroit, the GM Renaissance Center is your guide. Detroit is built on a grid pattern, but the main North-South streets (like Gratiot and Grand River) curve at their southernmost point to meet at the base of the RenCen.  It's that big thing just up ahead.

Walking past the Outdoor Adventure Center, I returned to my car and exited the lot. Pretty cool view, eh? Did you know Detroit had a lighthouse? 

Milliken State Park

If you enjoyed this tour, visit my last Urban Art feature: This is OUR Detroit!

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