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Posts Tagged ‘cement walls’

As I’ve pointed out in past blog entries, Detroit is an interesting place full of interesting signs. Many are clean, simple hand painted versions with colorful messages and images found nailed to a utility pole or an abandoned building. Others are crudely hand-made types constructed from cast-off scrap wood, Plexiglas and other found materials.  Most of the eye-catching ones I see at the grass-root level feature a simple message or a rough rendering of a particular product being promoted. It isn’t unusual for some to have misspelled words or painted, dippy letters that make them almost impossible to read. The quirky signs can be found throughout this large city in just about any neighborhood or along major commercial roads that spread across the city.

Below are a few more of the amusing signs of Detroit that I’ve spotted on my bicycle rides in the city.

Enjoy!

They do it all

They do it all

That's one large computer

That’s one large computer

Looks to made from discarded doors

Looks to be made from discarded doors

Hand painted campaign sign

Hand painted campaign sign

Like the added words good and cheap

Like the added words good and cheap on the main sign

Plenty of interesting spellings on this tree mounted menu

Plenty of interesting spellings on this tree mounted menu

Below are links to previous blog entries on the Amusing Signs of Detroit.

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

Amusing Signs of Detroit – Part 7

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

 

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They’re dark, damp, cold, and eerie. They are made of thick cement walls, built to withstand a war. In some cases, one can peer through the expansive arches overlooking the murky, dreary interiors that are littered with broken glass. Who knows what’s living in there? These impressive dungeons of Detroit have probably been there for well over a hundred years. They are found throughout the city, and the beauty of them is in their design and that they are easy accessible by bike.  In fact, I’ve ridden through many of these old, dark clammy places many times, and I’m always fascinated with how well-built they are.

Double Arched Dungeon _5276

Arched Dungeon _5278

The most unsettling one is along 20th Street near West Vernor on the city’s west side. It’s a dark place, and the cement floor is rough. Scattered throughout are small pieces of broken glass. Many of the small glass shards near the entrance and exit of these places reflect the limited sunlight that briefly streaks in from both ends. The multi-faceted reflections remind me of diamonds.

 Upon entering this tunnel like road leading downward, the chill and dampness is instantly noticeable. So is the quick shift from brightness to total blackness. Like others I’ve ridden through, this one is built to withstand a bomb. However, instead of using big sections of cement to build it, this one has a combination of steel girders and cement holding it all in place.

These dreary old places in the city are not scary dungeons in the truest sense of the word, but tough, well-built underpasses that support railroad tracks or multi-lane streets above. Many of these dungeon-like superstructures of cement and steel were built at a time when Detroit had no expressways and handled thousands of cars daily. Now, a number of them are underused and slowly crumbling and rusting away.

Steel Gerders Dungeon _0356

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There are plenty of railroad tracks that crisscross the city of Detroit. The long trains carry auto parts, rolls of steel, chemicals, cars from the auto factories, and many other manufactured goods. It’s not unusual to see the trains with two engines chugging along pulling upwards of 100 cars. Judging by the markings and corporate logos on the trains I see rumbling past my front window, they come from all across the country, Canada and Mexico.

Riding around this big city on my bicycle, I noticed that most of the train tracks are elevated above the streets and roads. The tracks are held up by huge cement supports that straddle the centerline of the streets below. The arched supports stand at least 13 feet tall.

There are also smooth, thick cement walls supporting the overhead tracks that flank the sidewalks, and they run the length of the overpass. From what I see, the large flat, horizontal gray walls make perfect canvases for graffiti and street artists.

It seems that every railroad underpass I ride through has some sort of graffiti; whether it is quick hitting simple one-color signature tags, large colorful elaborate “burners”, picturesque murals, or other graffiti types. Three underpasses in Detroit’s midtown area have outstanding wall paintings and are worth seeking out for their unique designs and overall artistic execution.

The first is the Trumbull Street underpass just north of I-94. It features a geometric pattern in an endless array of colors. The well-designed, complex wall painting stretches the length of the underpass. The multi-colored, bright design elements are also incorporated on the center supports. The pattern almost looks three-dimensional.

Outer wall of the Trumbull Street underpass

Outer wall of the Trumbull Street underpass

Colorful supports and wall

Colorful supports and wall

Geometry played a big roll in the design

Geometry played a big roll in the overall design

Arches in contrasting colors

Arches in contrasting colors

One street over from Trumbull is Lincoln.  The railroad underpass walls and supports found there are covered in a variety of eye-catching, intricate graffiti art, stunning wall murals, simple tags, and stenciled images.  Most have been designed and painted by a number of Detroit’s finest street artists: Malt, Stori, Fel3000ft, Tead, and others.

A couple of pieces by graffiti artist fel3000ft

A couple of pieces by graffiti artist fel3000ft

An artist at work on the Lincoln Street underpass

An artist at work on the Lincoln Street underpass

The flooded underpass reflects the art on the arches and outer wall

The flooded underpass reflects the art on the arches and on one of outer walls

Graffito artists Malt and Patch Whiskey collaborated on this piece

Graffito artists Malt and Patch Whiskey collaborated on this Lincoln Street wall mural

A little further to the northeast is the Beaubien Street underpass. The art there consists of simple colors painted in 45-degree angles, much like a pyramid. Depending on the wall or support, the V-shaped angles start at street level and rise to the base of the overpass, or they start at the top and cascade down. The inner arches of the center supports feature red and white bars that remind me of piano keys. The overall theme of the design on this underpass seems to be transportation.

Entering the Beaubien Street underpass

Entering the Beaubien Street underpass

Trains painted on the outer wall as viewed through the arches

Train engines painted on the outer wall as viewed through the arches

Cars painted on the opposite outer wall as viewed through the arches

Cars painted on the opposite outer wall as viewed through the arches

Note the red bars in the arches

Note the red bars in the arches

This is just a sampling of some of the amazing art found on the walls of railroad underpasses in the city of Detroit. Take a look the next time you pass through them.

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