photographer Charles Sheeler put Henry Ford on the international radar with his photo shoot of the Rouge Auto Complex, the world's largest
1930 skyscraper in downtown Detroit has stunning mural and mosaic idealizing progress in Michigan
1930 skyscraper in downtown Detroit is architect Wirt Rowland's Art Deco masterpiece
in Montreal's Quartier des Spectacle, outdoor art accents the cultural facilities in the city center
Detroit's epidemic of vacant land has been a perfect host for spontaneous outdoor exhibitions
West Grand Boulevard studio provides massive infusion of color to the somewhat vacated industrial corridor of Milwaukee Junction
building size mural in southwest Detroit reflects hispanic culture of that section
The Great Cities' zenith early in the 20th century inspired an international avant garde movement celebrating ordinary elements of the built environment, with music, architecture, film and performance innovations.
Starting with Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand's 1921 classic "Manhatta" (left), wordless collages include (clockwise): the Russian "Man with a Movie Camera" (1929, Dziga Vertov), Floret's "Skyscraper Symphony" (1929), Ruttmann's "Barlin: Symphony of a Great City" (1927).
images, words, ideas, feelings
Writers from Walt Whitman to Charles Dickens were fascinated by burgeoning 19th century places, and poets from Langston Hughes to today's slam poets grew from gritty 20th century cities:
Design and architecture invoked classical civilizations, such as in these trade journals and event posters (right), and paid tribute to other cultures (bottom).
Cities have driven popular music for over a century. Harlem Jazz, Memphis Rockabilly, Detroit's Motown, Seattle grunge...
"A Great Day in Harlem" (below), a collection of 57 jazz greats, from the Art Kane archives (www.harlem org)
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Langston Hughes, “Harlem” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by The Estate of Langston Hughes.