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Steven J. Urban

Traverse City 1910 Paper Art Map

Traverse City 1910 Paper Art Map

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Urban Grid paper art.  


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.  

At the top of the map (north) is Traverse Bay and the stretch of land immediately south of the bay is now parkland with East Grandview Parkway running east to west. Just to the south is the Boardman River and Front Street.  The Boardman River snakes to the west (out of view of the map) and re-emerges and continues south east.  Bridges span across the Boardman River at North Union Street and Cass Street which run north to south.   

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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