Riding my bike throughout Detroit I’ve come across lots of interesting sights. I’ve seen signs with misspelled names; ridden behind severely crippled cars spewing blue smoke so thick it was hard to see beyond it; and found abandoned buildings full of moldy mattresses, hundreds of tires, stripped cars, building materials and endless piles of trash. Unfortunately, I’ve also spotted small settlements of what appears to be homeless people who have set-up homesteads in out-of-the–way areas of overgrown weeds and trees. All this makes me wonder what went wrong in this city
On the flipside, I’ve ridden through shattered neighborhoods where a caring resident or two live in perfectly maintained, well landscaped homes worthy of those found in suburbia’s best communities. I have been in neighborhoods, such as Southwest Detroit, where there’s a hornet’s nest of activity with bumper-to-bumper traffic, packed restaurants and coffee shops. The downtown area and the lengthy riverwalk are usually bustling, and so is Detroit’s midtown area with its vibrant restaurants, brewpubs and cultural institutions. Plus, there are pockets of new housing projects developed by Habitat for Humanity and other citywide non-profit organizations. As this blog reflects, there is quite a contrast in what I see pedaling across Detroit.
One of the things I’ve noticed in this large city full of oddities and contrasts is that there is no shortage of unusual, odd buildings. They seem to come in all shapes and sizes; built out of brick, wood, cinder blocks or a combination of all. Several are residential places that have been added on to over the years without any regard, it seems, for building codes. Others are small commercial buildings that have outlived their original use as a neighborhood mom-and-pop store and are now painted in bright, wild colors. A few I’ve seen have been built at peculiar angles to fit on a sliver of land that was only available during the time it was constructed.
The older sections of the city seem to have a quite a mixture of odd buildings. I’m not sure if it was the era in which they were built, or perhaps they’ve evolved over decades of use and updates by different owners. Regardless, Detroit is packed full of odd buildings.