As a result of the 1967 race riots in Detroit, Tyree Guyton returned to his childhood stomping grounds to find them riddled with trash, drugs, and violence. Of the many abandoned, ignored neighborhoods around the city, Guyton’s was statistically one of the hardest hit. As people had rushed to move out, crime had eagerly moved in.
Having already lost three brothers to the very streets he’d grown up on, Tyree decided to take a stand. In 1986, he started the Heidelberg Project as a way to use art to brighten the neighborhood for the many children on his block, but also to call attention to the extreme blight that had enveloped his community. Tyree took stake in his community, and as a result, not a single serious crime was reported within a two block radius of the project for over 26 years. The project is now in its 27th year.
Today, the Heidelberg Project (HP) is the third most visited cultural destination in Detroit and one of the world’s most iconic displays of community art. The inspirational and controversial art environment, built largely by repurposing found and abandoned materials and homes, spans two city blocks and has generated $3.4 million for the city of Detroit.