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. An illustration shows two alleys in Detroit.
    Design

    Finding the Untapped Potential of Alleys

    “We’re starting to realize they’re just as powerful as a park or plaza.”

  2. Design

    The Sensory City Philosopher

    Architect, engineer, and inventor Carlo Ratti envisions a future for urban design that's interactive.

  3. A man bikes down a busy London street with a food-delivery box on the back of his bike.
    Equity

    The Rise of ‘Urban Tech’

    From food-delivery startups to mapping and co-living companies, technology focused on urban systems is drawing billions of dollars in venture capital.

  4. A family in a convertible
    Life

    The Rise and Fall of the Family-Vacation Road Trip

    Richard Ratay, the author of Don’t Make Me Pull Over!: An Informal History of the Family Road Trip, discusses the factors that turned road trips from an individual adventurer’s pursuit into a family activity—and those that led to their decline.

  5. A view of Washington Square Park in New York with tall buildings beyond
    Environment

    Why New York City Is Reporting Its Sustainability Progress to the UN

    So far, it’s the only city in the world to publish a review of its progress toward the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).