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As I have pointed out in past entries on the amusing signs I’ve spotted on my bicycle rides, Detroit is an interesting place full of strange signs. Many are hand drawn on discarded chunks of plywood or other pieces of scrap wood. A few are full of misspellings, and they are sometimes hung or placed in the most bizarre locations. Some are quite humorous in their messages, while others are almost impossible to read because the letters have run or dripped into each other because too much paint was used to create them.

Note the spelling above the door

Note the spelling above the door and check out the tires on the roof

This is how to change the name

This is how to change a sign in Detroit

In this entry, the seventh in an occasional series on Detroit’s quirky signs, I’ve posted a few of the most recent ones I’ve spotted on my rides. Despite the content and hard-to-read messaging found on a few, I do admire the drive and persistence of the many grass-root business entrepreneurs found along the city’s major commercial strips and within the neighborhoods. They are doing what they need in order to advertise their goods and services.

Take a look!

Most of the time this place is closed when I go by

Most of the time this place is closed when I go by

This could be a challenge unless you have a drone

This could be a challenge unless you have a drone

Buy the couch and get a FREE house

I guess you buy the couch and get a FREE house

On a sign post along Cass Ave

Philosophy on a sign post along Cass Ave

This entry is the seventh of an occasional blog entry on the amusing signs of Detroit. To view the other’s in this series, click on the headlines below.

Amusing Signs of Detroit

Amusing Signs of Detroit – Part 2

Amusing Signs of Detroit – Part 3

Amusing Signs of Detroit – Part 4

Amusing Signs of Detroit – Part 5

Amusing Signs of Detroit – Part 6

Remember, you can click on any image to view them larger.

Green Bike Lanes

Over the past few years there has been a tremendous amount of bike lanes painted on the streets of Detroit. They can be found throughout Southwest Detroit, Midtown, the east side and other sections of the city. It wasn’t long ago that it was rare to see any at all. Now they seem to be everywhere, including some of the inner suburbs, as I noticed over the weekend when I rode out to Ferndale. As I rode along Livernois Avenue from Detroit and approached the intersection of 8-Mile Road, I could see green bike lanes up ahead, something I haven’t seen before.

Well market bike lane

Well marked bike lane

From what I understand, the painted sections of the bike lanes lining Livernois between 8 and 9 Mile roads indicate conflict points. The conflict points are sections of the street where cars and bike riders have a likely chance of meeting, such as a cross street. The bright green painted sections of the lengthy bike lanes are designed to alert and bring awareness to both vehicle drivers and bike riders.

Livernois and 8-mile green lane indicates caution for both cars and bicyclists

The Livernois and 8-Mile green lane indicates caution for both cars and bicyclists

The green sections are in addition to fresh looking buffered bike lanes along the avenue. The buffer lanes are  stripped lines that look to be at least 30” wide that are located between the car lanes (or curbs) and the actual bike lanes. They act as a buffer zone between the bike and traffic lanes adding safety to the riders.

Buffered lanes leading to a busy intersection

Buffered lane leads to a busy intersection

Green bike lane directs riders out of the turn lane at 9-Mile

This one directs riders out of the turn lane at 9-Mile

Another nice feature of the well-marked lanes along Livernois in Ferndale is the presence of bike racks. They are incorporated on the curb side of Livernois on both sides. That seems to encourage commuting to work, school, etc. via bicycle. It also implies a bike friendly environment. It was nice to see and ride along the well thought out bike route that incorporates signage, well-defined painted lanes and bicycle racks.  Overall, the lanes also create a strong sense of safety for bike riders like me. Good job, Ferndale.

Bike rack along Livernois

Bike rack along Livernois

9-Mile Road in Ferndale also has bike racks

9-Mile Road in Ferndale also has bike racks

Dally in the Alley

Detroit’s premier street party was this past Saturday. It’s called Dally in the Alley, and it’s been held continuously for 37 years. The one-day event takes place in a series of alleys and streets that have been cornered off in the city’s Cass Corridor area near Wayne State University. The annual free event features four stages of continuous music, as well as a bunch of vendors selling art, t-shirts, clothing, vinyl records, and plenty of food and drinks.

One of many rock and roll bands that played

One of many rock and roll bands that played

Vendors lined the streets

Vendors lined the streets

Detroit themed wooden blocks were for sale

Detroit themed wooden blocks were for sale

The alleys and surrounding streets (bounded by Hancock, Forest, Second and Third Avenues) were jammed packed with thousands of people. Families, college students, aging hippies, artists, and many others were all there having a good time listening to the music and wandering through the alleys checking out what the vendors had to sell. It’s a diverse, interesting crowd that attends the annual party, making for a great day of people watching.

Everyone loved this cute little hula hoop girl

Everyone loved this cute little hula hoop girl

The alleys were packed

The alleys were packed

 More and more people jammed the area as it got later

More and more people jammed the area as the day wore on

The street party runs to midnight and it seemed the later it got, more and more people flowed into the already crowded streets and alleys. Around 10 p.m. there were some fireworks. Not the usual 4th of July type stuff. A utility pole in the center of the alleys started popping. The pole caught on fire and the fire was followed by sparks and loud, bright explosions.

Luckily organizers spotted the fire before the explosions took place and were able to herd people out of the area before the Detroit fire department arrived. It was surreal standing there watching, especially when about sixty percent of the people around me automatically pulled out their iPhones to record what was going on.

Because of the imminent danger of falling wires, the Dally in the Alley party was cut short much to the chagrin of attendees, vendors and the bands that were scheduled to perform. Based on past Dally’s, I thought the fire was some sort of torch and part of the happenings. It’s always an interesting event, and this year’s was no exception.

Plenty of colorful Dally signs throughout

Plenty of colorful Dally signs throughout

Colorful vendor  booths were everywhere

Brightly decorated  vendor booths were everywhere

Four stages of diverse music

Four stages of diverse music

One of many unusual displays

One of many unusual clothing displays

At one time, many of the buildings that lined some of Detroit’s busiest commercial streets had colorful hand painted signs on the sides of them. The signs promoted a variety of goods such as flour, clothing, soft drinks, auto parts, and many other items. Due to our harsh winter climate and the hot, bright sun of summer, many of the old signs found on the city’s older buildings are slowly fading away.

Several of the oldest signs I’ve spotted on my bicycle rides throughout the city go back at least 100 years, maybe further. Because of their age and exposure to the ever-changing outdoor weather, the flowing, stylish letters that were popular on the signs at that time are now almost impossible to read. Other signs out there feature decorative, one-of-a-kind illustrations that emphasize a particular product. Those, too, are also fading into the brick walls on which they are painted.

Note how the ovals around the name and treasure chest complement each other

Note how the ovals around the name and treasure chest complement each other

Vintage Carhartt ad slowly being sucked into the brick

Vintage Carhartt ad is slowly fading into the brick

In earlier entries of this occasional series of Detroit’s fading wall signs, I’ve posted numerous photos of the old beauties. Sadly, a few of them have been lost since then because the buildings on which they were painted have been torn down. Also, a few others have been vandalized with spray paint, leaving only partial sections of the original elements visible.

Here is another set of fading sign photos I’ve taken on my bicycle rides in Detroit. I’m always amazed on how complex some of the aged hand painted signs were back then. I can only imagine what they must have looked like when they were freshly painted.

This beauty is is in remarkably good shape

This beauty is in remarkably good shape

Right out of the Art Deco period

Right out of the Art Deco period

Look near the bottom, you can spot another faded sign

Near the bottom is another faded sign

Simple block letters

Simple block letters

You can check out the previous entries in this series by clicking on the links below.

Fading Wall Signs

Fading Wall Signs – Part 2

Fading Wall Signs – Part 3

Fading Wall Signs – Part 4

Fading Wall Signs – Part 5

Detroit’s North End neighborhood is an interesting place full of history. It’s an old section of the city where residential and industrial areas seem to intersect. It’s also a good-sized neighborhood that radiates about two miles around the intersection of East Grand Boulevard and Oakland Avenue.

Bicycling through the streets of this old, historic neighborhood, I was struck by the contrast between the industrial area south of East Grand Blvd. and the farm like feel north of the Blvd. Like other areas of Detroit, it’s a tale of two neighborhoods within its borders.

The neighborhood’s south boundary area has a gritty, hard edged, industrial feel to it. There are expansive brick buildings throughout that were constructed in the 1920’s. Heavy-duty steel structures that support train tracks cut through that section of the neighborhood too. Many of the buildings once housed machine shops that fed parts into the burgeoning auto industry. Thankfully, many of those old storied buildings have now taken on a new life.

One of many small shops in the neighborhood

One of many small shops in the neighborhood

Many of the small manufacturing businesses that have survived the ups and downs of Detroit’s automotive industry over the decades can still be found along the old streets, but change seems to be coming. Young artists and others have been converting the vintage brick buildings found along the densely packed, narrow streets into residential lofts, art studios, performance spaces, etc.

This old building has been converted to residential  lofts

This  building has been converted to residential lofts

Tangent Art Gallery is located in the neighborhood

Tangent  Gallery is located in the neighborhood

Restored apartment building

Restored apartment building

The artists that have moved into the old places on the south side of East Grand Boulevard have created colorful exteriors paintings on the buildings. The large wall paintings seem to glow brightly in the early morning sunrise and late evening sunsets. The wall art offers a pleasing, uplifting contrast to the harsh industrial feel in that section of the neighborhood.

A rainbow of colors cover the side of this tall building

A rainbow of colors cover the side of this building

Colorful art can be seen on many North End buildings

There is colorful art on many North End buildings

On the north side of the Boulevard there is virtually no industry. The streets, once lined with homes full of families and viable retail businesses, have changed dramatically over time. With the city’s massive population exodus and other factors, many of the businesses have closed and homes have been abandoned. Now most of the vacant homes and abandoned businesses have been cleared. The lots where they once stood are now fields of tall, wild plants turning many sections of the north side of the Boulevard into soothing, country like fields.

Community and religious organizations have moved into that area and are creating community gardens. Some cover close to a full block of land. City parks have been adopted and revitalized, and when I recently rode past one, it was in use by families and kids of all ages.

A Michigan Urban Farming Initiative garden

A Michigan Urban Farming Initiative garden

Oakland Avenue Community Garden

Oakland Avenue Community Garden

Delores Bennett Playground, a restored city park

Delores Bennett Playground, a restored city park

The North End is an interesting neighborhood. It offers plenty of diversity in architecture, lifestyles, and landscape. It seems every street I rode down and every corner I approached offered a sense of togetherness and vitality. It’s good to see that the city’s North End is coming back to life.

One of many murals in the North End

Mural in the North End

Colorfully painted artist studio north of East Grand Boulevard

Colorfully painted artist studio north of East Grand Boulevard

Beautiful doors on the Jim Handy Building on East Grand Boulevard

Beautiful restored doors on the Jim Handy Building on East Grand Boulevard

In last week’s entry I highlighted some of the large, colorful graffiti murals that can be found in the city of Detroit. Many of the huge, multi-colored pieces I’ve seen (and presented in that blog entry) have extraordinary detail considering they are created from nothing more than the nozzle of a spray can. A number of the pieces I highlighted have graced the walls of outdoor galleries for years, while others have been added to walls within the last month or so.

Fel 3000 Rabbit_8373

SolomonFish Mural _9964

Two Ladies on Wall_9749

Lately, there seems to be a plenty of new murals being created on the sides of buildings and elsewhere. Although most are designed and created by talented Detroit artists, it isn’t unusual to spot a piece by a painter from Los Angeles, New York or elsewhere.

Meca and others wa;;_6259

E Mkt German Artist_6998

Fumeriosm_7016

This is the second in an occasional blog entry on the city’s imaginative graffiti murals. Since the works can vanish overnight, or change and evolve rapidly into something completely different, I hope to roll out more entries featuring the interesting street art I see on my bicycle travels across the city. In the meantime, keep your eyes open because you’ll never know what you’ll see on a wall in Detroit.

RSK Russell St_0925

D Cut B/W_9377

Horse and Lady Wall_1000

Graffiti isn’t all one or two-color tags, quick hitting initials or large hard to read letters sprayed on the sides of buildings from fire extinguishers. There is much more to it than that. Scattered across the city of Detroit are some amazing graffiti murals. They have been created in multi-colored designs on large walls throughout many of the city’s neighborhoods and commercial districts.

Talented street artists from Detroit, Los Angeles, the Carolina’s, New York City, and other places use nothing more than spray paint from cans to create the giant, colorful murals. The remarkable works of art are full of detailed imagery and many of the pieces are monumental in scale. It isn’t unusual to see these beautiful works of art completely covering the sides of two-story buildings.

Cowboys E Market_0222

7th letter e mkt_0823

In some cases, the murals don’t last very long on a wall because they are painted over in a relatively short time. Depending on the site, I’ve seen a fresh piece quickly go up and within a few days, it has been painted over with a new piece of art by the same artist, or in some cases, another painter. Some of the murals are so fresh and new that I could smell the distinct odor of enamel paint in the air as I rode up to them on my bicycle.

Hygenic Dress League_0829

Sintex Indian _0852

Vincent Chin_0186

The subject matter of the works of art I’ve seen has a wide array of content. They include portraits, historical figures, monsters, birds, eyeballs, cartoon characters, and plenty of other interesting images. Although there are graffiti murals scattered around the city, there are a few hot spots where much of the wall art can be seen. They include the Lincoln Street Art Park, the Grand River Creative Corridor, a railroad wall along Newark Street and other places such as the historic Eastern Market and the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation building on Trumbull Street.

Gratiot Mural _9595

Monster Steve Bug_0505

Eyeball Mural _0236

Keep your eyes open, because you never know what you’ll see on a wall in Detroit.

Woman w bird hair_0122
Purple Ape_0479Patch Whiskey_9788
 Hamtramck Arabic Lady Painting_9989
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