The Heidelberg Project

So, at this point in the week I think it is safe to assume I have convinced most viewers that quite a bit of downtown Detroit looks like a bombed out, post-Apocalyptic urban jungle.  If the halls, train stations, and factories look like they do, just imagine what regular blocks are like (or I can help!).

To put it gently, a lot of areas in the city have “gone downhill.”  The same was true for the McDougall-Hunt neighborhood around Heidelberg Street, which was in largely destroyed by riots in 1967.  But, in 1986, artist Tyree Guyton and his grandfather Sam Mackey began the Heidelberg Project when they decided to re-paint and re-vamp some of  the dilapidated, bombed-out homes.  The neighborhood has never been the same.  According to the Heidelberg Project website, their mission is “rooted in the need to improve the under-resourced and horribly blighted Detroit community where the project was founded.”  Goal accomplished!

The project evolved from painting a few houses to a complete revamping of the community, with efforts focused on establishing an artists’ colony, creative art center, and community garden, among other things with the help of local children and other neighbors.  This year is the 25th anniversary of the Heidelberg Project.  Since it began, six of the houses on the street have been demolished, but there is enough creativity, color, beauty, and inventiveness in those few blocks to make any visitor imagine the possibilities for the rest of the Detroit ruins.

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