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Steven J. Urban

Detroit Street Map 1942 Paper Art Map

Detroit Street Map 1942 Paper Art Map

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Urban Grid paper art. 

Description:

Steve J. Urban’s paper art work illustrates development patterns in Detroit as well as other cities in Michigan.  He uses Sanborn Property maps as a template, and hand cuts construction paper to illustrate the building patterns in black and white. Keeping the contrast simple, a variety of rich patterns emerge from the paper. The variety of building sizes, building shapes and setbacks make for a complex mosaic of urban settlements.  

This Detroit street map of 1942 depicts the street grid system of the city before the advent of freeways. The major surface streets of Jefferson Avenue, Michigan Avenue, Grand River Avenue, Woodward Avenue and Gratiot Avenue radiate out from the central business district of downtown Detroit and helped define the neighborhoods of the city without Balkanizing the city into fragments caused by the construction of the metropolitan freeway system. 

The Ambassador Bridge spanning the Detroit River is the connection point to Windsor Canada to the south.  Belle Isle is indicated in the lower right portion of the map.  This map extends north up to McNichols Avenue or 6 Mile road.  The many void areas depict the locations of primarily heavy industrial areas as well as parks and cemeteries.

About the Artist:

During his career as an architect, Steve J. Urban was intrigued by the patterns of the “built environment” within a city.  Meaning the footprints of buildings such as houses, commercial and industrial buildings as well as roads and highways.  The development of any city was shaped by many natural and man-made factors and features.  Unfortunately, the majority of the older areas featured in his work are disappearing without a record of what was there, leaving citizens without a sense of history.  Steve’s artwork is an attempt to document this urban history.


 

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