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The Dequindre Cut: An Urban Gallery

The Dequindre Cut is an urban recreational path that was formed out of the old Grand Trunk Railway line in Detroit. It opened in May 2009, spans 1.2 miles, and is a link between the Riverfront and Eastern Market. The greenway, as it’s called, is a great place to bike, rollerblade, or simply take a nice walk.

The Dequindre Cut GreenwayThe thing that sets the Dequindre Cut apart from any other bike paths in Detroit, or the suburbs for that matter, is it is also an urban gallery. Before the restoration, the cut was occupied mainly by the homeless. Graffiti artists also took residence here and you had to be a respected graffiti artist to tag in the cut.

Graffiti in the Dequindre CutThe juxtaposition of the brand new pavement and struggling-to-grow grass against the graffiti-laden crumbling concrete is quite beautiful. This is one of my new favorite places in Detroit.

Walking along the path is a delight. Everyone we passed said hello to us and checking out the graffiti added an extra element. I didn’t feel like I was in the middle of a big city, especially a city with such a bad reputation as Detroit. But I'm biased, I like love Detroit.

I look forward to the future extension of the Dequidre Cut, which will bring it further north to Mack Avenue to connect it directly with Eastern Market, and the southern expansion; which will connect it to the RiverWalk. The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is doing amazing work.

The Dequinde Cut is an urban recreation path.Even though it hasn’t expanded to Eastern Market yet, it’s only a few blocks away. The next time you’re at the market go for a walk before or after you go shopping. If you’d like to ride down the cut on two wheels and don’t own a bike, you can rent one at The Wheelhouse, it's located on the RiverWalk.

The concrete bones of the old rail line are still present at the Dequindre Cut.The Riverfront Conservancy seems to be dedicated to preserving the artwork already present and expanding it. I hope they stand by this.

I asked you whether you thought the Heidelberg Project was art or an eyesore. So, what say you? The graffiti in The Dequindre Cut: art or eyesore? I'm firmly on the side of art for this one.

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Reader Comments (12)

I say ART. Not an eyes sore.
I haven't been to the river walk yet and I work downtown. One of these days when I have some extra time and money I will go down there. Sounds like a fun time!

September 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJamie Favreau

I have to say it's Art. Of course, I also used to sit in the back of biology "tagging" my friends names for 'em on paper. It's a lot harder than one might think.

September 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha

Edgy art. Thanks for posting this piece and reminding me to ride the Dequindre Cut...been wanting to do it all summer.

September 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine Hilker

I've been wanting to get down there myself.
As far as the art question, why not? Every age has its own "folk" is this any less valid than peoples' everyday art from prior eras?

September 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDominique

It's absolutely art! People will always have various definitions and perceptions when it comes to art, but I believe graffiti can be a form of artistic expression. I think I'm going to start living vicariously through you Becks because you do all the fun things in Detroit that I haven't found time to do yet. :)

September 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNikki Stephan

Thank you all for your comments.

I guess I asked the wrong question, though. I think we all agree it's art. But would we feel the same about it if it was on a historical building or a brand new skyscraper? In those cases, I think everyone would scream vandalism. So, is graffiti only acceptable in certain settings? Personally, I would have to say yes.

I wish I would have thought to bring up the British artist Banksy in this post. I wouldn't call his work graffiti but it's found in the places you would usually find graffiti. His work is amazing and always seems to fit the setting. I think this is why the Dequindre Cut works so well, the art fits the setting.

Nikki, thanks! I wish I had more time, there are so many more gems out there in Metro Detroit.

September 2, 2009 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

Thanks for the tip, my wife, daughter, and I really enjoyed it. Finding it and a place to park was a bit of a challenge to those of us who rarely get downtown but its now a "Go to" spot. Great people along the way!

September 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDan Baker

You're welcome, glad you enjoyed it. We were enjoying the day at Eastern Market when we went, so we parked there. I thought I knew how to get to the northern entrance but we did end up having to ask someone.

September 9, 2009 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

A work friend sent me the link to your "40 Things to do in Detroit" website. I've lived in the Detroit area for most of my life so many of the attractions were familiar to me, but The Dequindre Cut was new, so I clicked that link. Thank you for the photos and the thoughtful text to accompany them.

To me, the Dequindre Cut epitomizes the spirit of Detroit--raw creativity that springs up spontaneously in public places and breathes energy and spirit into the people who live here. We Detroiters may be struggling, but we are vibrant and alive, aware of what it means to be human in the beginning of the 21st century.

February 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDonna Olendorf

Well said! Honestly, I don't think I could say that better. We are vibrant, alive, and aware! You made my day.

I'm also happy that you have done most of the "40 Things to do in Detroit." You'd be surprised how many life-long residents that haven't even heard of some of the places. I can't wait for spring so I can go back to the Dequindre Cut. Yeah, I'm kind of a baby when it comes to cold weather ;)

February 8, 2010 | Registered CommenterBecks Davis

Definitely art! I love Detroit so much, even though I no longer live there, Detroit goes with me wherever I roam!

May 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave

This is a great piece about the Dequindre Cut!

I'd like to add that the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is responsible for the development of the Cut and commissioned Community Arts Partnerships (CAP) and community+public arts:DETROIT (C+PAD) at the College for Creative Studies to work with students from the neighborhoods around the Cut to design the banners you see on the light poles.

CAP sent graphic design faculty into Detroit Edison Public School Academy, Chrysler Elementary, Friends School, and Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences to help middle school students develop designs around the theme of outdoor recreation and the Cut. The banners were completely designed by the students at each of the 4 schools under the guidance of CAP's graphic design faculty.

October 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

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