MultiColor Motown – Focus on Blue

Blue is not the most common color in Detroit architecture – it competes with the sky and is hard to see at night – but it’s a constant in the landscape.  Spray Services is a current business that supplies paint equipment for auto repair.

Sam’s Auto Parts’ sign still stands on 8 Mile,

and OK Used Cars on Fort Street in Wyandotte is proud to be “Downriver’s Finest Since 1983.”

Strickly Tires and Turtle’s Tires have what it takes to keep your ten-year-old car rolling.

Car wash businesses abound. C.W. Hand Car Wash”Come Get Your Shyne on” features a vehicle crossing the Detroit River on a bridge. Perhaps to Canada.

I met Yetta.  Her new business  – Yetta Boo’s Boobs and Bunns Hand Car Wash was a short-lived concept which only did well seasonally.

One of Detroit’s best professional sign/mural, and fine artist is Curtis Lewis. He did Chris & Sammie Car Wash

and the amazing Upper Cuts Sports Barber Shop ” for that knock out look on Livernois Avenue.

Lewis’s interior wall paintings cover the history of professional boxing. (More about Mr. Lewis in a forthcoming blog story.)

Now Detroit ordinances  mean sign painters like Curtis Lewis have less work. You can no longer do whatever you like with commercial buildings, and so we’ll see MultiColor Motown becomes more and more homogenized and a lot less expressive. Alas.

And I love Clean Whips Car Wash.

Hair care is represented by Salon Blu’e

and the tasteful Beauty Salon in Highland Park.

Hair care establishments are often paired with car washes. R & T’s Auto Salon butts up against the new Moe Moe’s Unique Salon, two cash-only businesses that continue to serve Detroit citizens.

Fresh Meat and Potatoes tried to offer better nutrition on Kercheval Street but is now gone.

An older sign – Hostess Cake – reminded generations of the fine food produced at this plant.

Bill’s Blue Star Disco Lounge is still standing on Michigan Avenue, minus a roof.

K of C [Knights of Columbus] Msgr. Hunt 3312 Hall is a remnant of the popular Catholic social group for men.

Blue is the defining color at the Motown Museum

and the now-preserved Blue Bird Inn Jazz Club on Tireman Street.

Hand-painted signage on the back of a Hispanic Church on Livernois Avenue features a lion and a lamb and a message of peace.

Neatly arranged furniture is still pleasantly displayed on the wall at Harrell’s.

The pretty clock on glazed art deco facade of the Time and Signal Corp. continues to offer inaccurate time.

Intense Personal Training had a short business fuse and the wall is now painted over.

A dog security training business sports an elaborate wall application cutouts. It shows a bad man facing the business end of a well-trained three-legged dog.

Two viable enterprises: Detroit Customs works on motorcycles,

and V.I.P. Credit Restoration handles a variety of economic problems facing modern Detroiters.

Lastly, the former McLough Steel Plant (1951) in Trenton, Michigan, stands on the Detroit River as one of Detroit’s last great industrial ruins. The plant was about a half-mile long in its day and the second largest consumer of electricity in the state. (The City of Detroit was Number One.) All of McLough’s iron ore was delivered to the plant from ships docked on the Detroit River. Large conveyors moved the iron ore from the ships to the plant for processing.


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4 thoughts on “MultiColor Motown – Focus on Blue

  1. Fantastic images! You have captured the beauty of these eccentric and authentic Detroit businesses before they are gone.

  2. Your work continues to amaze and delight me, David. Blue, as it happens is my favorite color. You always impress me with your innate talent to see beauty and art in the most unconventional of places. While I am especially fond of your more patina infused sign photos, these have a separate, different charm all of their own. You so capture the real Detroit. The tour you took me on of this beautiful city and your history here was a marvel and so fascinatingly enlightening, I’m now a proud resident of the D. God bless you and your gifts, I hope your endeavors will continue and prove more fruitful than ever. You are one of a kind, David. Congrats on a another fabulous compilation and cohesive theme that I personally adore, though I do bring with it, my bias for blue.

  3. Beautiful Work David, the wall paintings should be preserved as folk art in a museum. But the Clements Virtual Museum will have to do.

  4. I agree that new signage rules will stifle a true Detroit platform for individualism. The photos you present are wonderful. Good thing you continue to document them…the city will take them before the weather does!

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