Detroit, Michigan for The Heidelberg Project

The Heidelberg Project is a quirky, strange, art-filled, weird place that you just have to visit. Seriously, yes you do, because you won’t ever forget it. It began as an outdoor art project in a tough part of Detroit in 1986 by Tyree Guyton. At first a political protest, Guyton, back home from serving in the Army, looked at his childhood neighborhood and thought it looked as if a bomb had gone off. So he began painting houses on Heidelberg Street with bright colors and added salvaged items here and there. It has become a slowly progressing and changing work of art as he transformed this tough neighborhood, where people were scared to walk in the daytime, to one where people come to see the art. This entire street is one of hope and creativity.

Of course there has been controversy. The city of Detroit wanted to bulldoze it. Many of the houses have mysteriously burned down. And there have been issues about where some of this non-profit’s funds have gone.

Step past all that and just visit this place. Sure it is different. It is quirky. You’ve never seen anything like it. As you drive there you will pass abandoned houses, some burned and just the shells left. At times it feels like a war zone. That’s Detroit in places, but the city is coming back slowly. Heidelberg Project has helped.

Guyton has taken salvaged items, abandoned cars, and added it all to his brightly painted houses. Sometimes a wild eyed doll will look out as you walk by. You’ll pass a “graveyard” of vacuum cleaners. Gutted televisions, painted sidewalks, and stuffed animals covering an entire house. Parking is easy. Just wander and make sure you bring your camera. You have never seen anything like this place before.

Insider Tip

Head to the Eastern Market in downtown Detroit to get lunch. Another fun place to check out.

Where I stayed / started

3600 Heidelberg St., Detroit, MI

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