It’s been a long cold winter here in Detroit, and I’ve been hibernating waiting patiently for some warm weather so I could get out and do a little bike riding. Well, the cold weather has begun to drift away, and thankfully I’ve been able to venture out and do a little exploring on my bicycle. The other day I decided to cruise down to the old Delray neighborhood on the Southwest side of the city.
That part of town, with its gritty toughness, has a certain charm in a crazy kind of way. It’s a place where most houses I ride past are surrounded by chain linked fences. Behind many of those fences there are usually at least two (if not more) dangerous looking barking, snarling dogs running up and down the fence lines keeping their eyes on me. German Shepherd mixes, pit bulls and other type of large, menacing guard dogs seem to be the preferred breed. It’s also a place where people live among smoke stacks from the nearby steel mills and petroleum refineries. Coal yards, with mounds of the black stuff, edge the Rouge River that cuts through that heavy industrial section of the city.
My route to that Southwest Detroit neighborhood took me west along Fort Street. Just beyond the Ambassador Bridge the street starts to take on a sad look. There are very few businesses lining the street that are still operating. Many of the blocks are dreary with plenty of boarded up, abandoned buildings with many that still retain some of their interesting architectural detail. Not that long ago those places housed bars, cafes, dentist offices, small clothing stores and other businesses that served the surrounding neighborhood.
Near Clark Street there’s an interesting, old, somewhat small two-story brick building that is brightly painted. Featured on the painted walls are various auto parts, unusual cartoonish looking characters, bright red lips that remind me of the Rolling Stones logo, but with eyes painted above them. Other colorful pictures on the building’s wall include a bicycle, flags and other well painted images. On the front of the time worn building are the words “Motor City Riot” painted in a vivid, fascinating graffiti style.
It’s quite a colorful building!
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