Black Bottom Street View Exhibit
In the UGL atrium exhibit “Black Bottom Street View,” art and history intersect to bring the neighborhood of Black Bottom back to life. On display through early December, this exhibit evokes the look and feel of Black Bottom — a once-thriving African-American enclave just east of downtown.
From a 2019 Freep feature on the exhibit:
From World War I through the 1940s, the neighborhood served as an epicenter of black culture as the Great Migration brought thousands of new residents to one of the few neighborhoods African-Americans were allowed to live in. The neighborhood and its estimated 350 black-owned businesses are mostly a fading memory in aging residents’ minds. Entire thriving business districts and rows of working-class Victorian style homes were leveled as part of sweeping urban renewal projects in the 1950s, including the construction of the Chrysler Freeway. The exhibition focuses on a specific slice of Black Bottom, which carved out a loose geography that stretched from Gratiot to the north; Brush Street to the west; St. Aubin to the east; and Congress Street to the south. There’s still debate today about the exact borders.
By building custom displays designed to replicate elements of Black Bottom architecture, project organizer Emily Kutil has created an immersive world for her black-and-white photo re-creations of the neighborhood. The concept is simple but effective: By overlapping black-and-white archival images, she creates a panoramic effect of a Black Bottom streetscape.