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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Discover Urban Renewal in Detroit


5. Oddball Day

The Heidelberg Project is an art installation that encompasses two full blocks in Detroit's East Side.  

Take a break from food tourism and spend a day checking out the city’s renegade public-art scene. Wake up with a cup of coffee made from beans roasted by Detroit’s Anthology Coffee ($3) and a house-baked breakfast pastry ($4) at Astro Coffee. Then, pop around the corner to the site of the Imagination Station, a nonprofit in the process of turning two blighted houses and three empty lots into a creative campus that will serve as an art and technology center for the city. Afterward, drive west on Route 75 to the Heidelberg Project, a 25-year-old neighborhood-sized art installation made largely of found objects like plush toys and car parts. Nearly everything in the two-block area, from trees to houses to fences, is adorned with eclectic objects; don’t miss the installation of hundreds of shoes scattered in the street. Make a stop at Avalon International Breads for stuffed sandwiches like a tuna melt with garlic-herb mayo served on freshly baked bread ($6.50$8.50). Next, drive up Route 75, also known as the Chrysler Freeway, to the corner of Moran Street and Lawley Avenue to get a glimpse of the Power House, a pastel-adorned home that was salvaged from foreclosure for under $2,000 and beautified by the architect and artist duo behind Design 99. The home produces its own solar energy and is being used as a model for revitalizing decaying neighborhoods. Then, peek into the alley behind 12087 Klinger Street to see what’s known as Hamtramck Disneyland for reasons that will become clear when you lay eyes on the wild assemblage of toys, old framed artworks, and other knick-knacks. For dinner, drive south to Cass Café for a menu of mostly vegetarian favorites like lentil burgers ($6.50) and vegetarian burritos ($7.50), served in a lofted space that doubles as an art gallery displaying works from local artists. Afterward, head across town to catch the scene at D'Mongo’s (open Friday and Saturday only), an eccentric speakeasy featuring cheap drinks (from $4) and live jazz or country music, depending on the week. Finish off the night with the post-club crowd at Lafayette Coney Island, which has been open for more than a century and serves late-night chili-dogs ($2.50) until 4:30 a.m.

Published on Mar 23, 2012 as a web exclusive.

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