I’ve been watching a war this summer. No, not that never ending Orwellian one; nor the nauseating rises and fall of the economy either. It’s a struggle of man dominating nature, nature struggling back, and some street artists stopping in to admire the view. It took place in what the artists refer to it as “the market”, others know it as the Dequindre Cut.
A rail line skirts the east edge of downtown Detroit. This rail line, long abandoned by humans to the vagaries of urban tolerant wildlife, cuts a deep swath. Nestled in its embrace is an urban canvas. Hobos, debris and the occasional dog walker all gathered on this pathway that ran from the Eastern Market to the Detroit river. That was until the MDOT, encouraged by the noble rails-to-trails, came up with something a wee bit more family friendly.
With a surprising quickness the construction crews toppled the foliage and replaced it with sterile woodchips and manicured rows of flowers. The artists stubbornly persevered. Each night every newly erected surface received a complementary coating of paint. Every day towering construction vehicles craft new surfaces and the spiraling dance goes on today. For a glimpse into the past of the cut, stand at the mouth of the Gratiot bridge and stare north.