street street street street "black bottom"_01

"Black Bottom" 1956
"black bottom"_02

"Black Bottom" 1961

protest for equal housing

Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People and church leaders picket for open housing at the Detroit Civic Center (Sugrue 194).
Image courtesy The Detroit News.

interstate 75 construction

Interstate 75 construction in Detroit



6 March 2012

The proposed work, street, would take squares of pavement cut from parking lots along the I-75 Chrysler Freeway and place them on columns at eye-level in a gallery in the Russell Industrial Center. 

While the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Region according to the U.S. census bureau is the 11th largest, with a population of about 4,296,250 in 2010, bus in Detroit is the only public transit excluding the inglorious People Mover.  The city saw an increase of highway construction due, in part, to the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which funded 90% of the costs for interstate highway construction.  The construction of highways in Detroit during the 1960s demolished neighborhoods.  Interstate 75 Chrysler Freeway targeted the largely African American centers of commerce and residence including “Black Bottom” and Paradise Valley.  African Americans were segregated from the mostly European American communities by discriminatory housing practices (housing was more expensive for African Americans than European Americans).  Such a practice continued with the Federal Housing Administration’s redlining, which marked African American neighborhoods as areas for disinvestment by banks.  The construction of highways exacerbated segregation by the ensuing “white flight” and suburban sprawl facilitated by easier commutes from suburbs to downtown Detroit via car.  The privatization of transit via the automobile has meant segregation of communities along paved lines and lots meant for stationary vehicles.

The columns used in street would cast from molds made from Michigan Central Station’s Corinthian columns.  A reversal of the hierarchy in architecture of the roles of roads and monuments/ruins happens.  “All roads lead to Rome” becomes “all of Rome leads to roads.”

The removal of squares of concrete along I-75 forms a contradistinction to the city becoming one big road.   Where each of the squares of pavement in street is cut, trees and/or shrubbery are planted.  The removal of pavement also relates to the pavement used in Tahrir Square during the protests to build barricades and use as ammunition.

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