Flickr/jasonparis

Seen by many as an urban-planning boondoggle, there's a cultured side to the city's humble light rail system.

The Detroit People Mover may be best known for its limited reach in the sprawled-out city it serves. But for 5,300 daily riders, it's also a place to see some really great art.

In use since 1987, all 13 stations on the 2.9-mile system have their own personalities, thanks to the unique artwork that exists at each one. Initiated by local public-art advocate Irene Walt in 1984, the Downtown Detroit People Mover Art Commission, also known as "Art in the Stations," made sure each DPM station was more than just turnstiles and concrete walls. To promote the new transit system shortly after its debut, the commission presented its work in a video (a 90-second teaser is below):

Art In The Stations: Detroit People Mover from Sue Marx Films Inc. on Vimeo.

The pieces at each station reference everything from frantic commuters to the finance industry to (of course) cars. For a museum-worthy experience, you can get a guided tour of all the art through the DPM itself—as long as you make a reservation and bring at least nine friends with you. For a more convenient tour, Curbed Detroit has its own ode to the DPM's art collection on their site today, sharing a striking photo essay by local photographers Michelle and Chris Gerard as well as a station-by-station explainer.

A new 3.3-mile light rail system is planned that will connect to the People Mover by late 2016. Ideally, that'll give the nearly 30-year-old system not only a much-needed boost in ridership, but perhaps a new wave of appreciation for its underrated art collection.

H/T Curbed Detroit

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo of shoppers in the central textile market of downtown Jakarta.
    Design

    How Cities Design Themselves

    Urban planner Alain Bertaud’s new book, Order Without Design, argues that cities are really shaped by market forces, not visionaries.

  2. A map of auto loan debt across the U.S.
    Maps

    Mapping the Subprime Car Loan Crisis

    A new tool by the Urban Institute maps the geography of car loan debt and delinquency.

  3. A photo of low-profile electric fire trucks on display at China's International Import Expo.
    Transportation

    The Fire Trucks Are Too Damn Big

    Smaller heavy-duty emergency vehicles could save a lot of lives, says a new Department of Transportation report.

  4. A pupil works on a cardboard architectural model at a Hong Kong primary school.
    Design

    The Case for Architecture Classes in Schools

    Through the organization Architecture for Children, Hong Kong architect Vicky Chan has taught urban design and planning to thousands of kids. Here’s why.

  5. a photo of New York City subway commuters.
    Perspective

    New York City’s Self-Induced Transportation Crisis

    Bill de Blasio and other city officials are heading for commuting calamity by failing to properly plan a coherent vision for subways, buses, e-bikes, and ride-hailing.