project leader
PG W
location
4126 Third
(Black Bottom)
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the project

Black Bottom Street View (BBSV) is a project to visualize and help preserve the history of Detroit’s historic Black Bottom neighborhood. In 2018, BBA acquired the Black Bottom Street View (BBSV) project to bring the histories & the sacred spaces that were present in the neighborhood to Detroiters in real time. BBSV, named as a nod to Google street view’s similar capabilities, allows viewers to walk the streets of Black Bottom. The Burton Historic Collection at the Detroit Public Library has a collection of photographs of every house in a large area of Detroit's Black Bottom neighborhood. The photos were taken from 1949 – 1950 by the City of Detroit as part of the eminent domain process. They show a snapshot of life in Black Bottom right before it was demolished. BBSV maps the Burton's photographs as panoramic images, so that visitors can explore the neighborhood as it was. Although this story remains underacknowledged, the rich history of Black Bottom persists in the memories of its former residents, and through the efforts of local historians and storytellers.

It is our mission is to build a platform for sharing family and community histories, and to promote the legacy of Black Bottom and the impact its residents have had on the city of Detroit and the whole of contemporary culture. As a traveling exhibit, with an accompanying oral history repository and digital archive, BBSV centers the long-gone neighborhood as it was before the “urban renewal” process that demolished the Black family homes, businesses, and cultural spaces there.

BBSV shows 20 blocks of the historic neighborhood with panoramas composed of over 2,000 archival photographs. Accompanied by a large, digitally recreated map of the neighborhood in 1951, two built “porches” offer a stage for the oral histories recordings, live storytelling and other programming.

In this contemporary era, where we are still seeing and experiencing mass displacement, demolitions, and major changes to Detroit’s urban fabric, it is critical to learn from our city’s history through centering and amplifying the story of Black Bottom. BBSV is an opportunity to share important lost histories. It challenges our communities to make important connections between historical practices of disposability & disinvestment that displaced Black communities then & the conditions we see in our communities today. We want to advance our preservation priorities by expanding our capacity to make this traveling exhibit more accessible and sustainable.

the steps

In the past year, COVID complications taught us about the limitations of the exhibit as it currently exists - noting the inability of the exhibit to exist in outdoor spaces for more than a day. We know that in order for the traveling exhibit to continue to visit and impact Detroiters all over the city, we will need to do some major updates to the exhibit to ensure that the panels are all-weather and museum quality, as well as ensuring that integrations from the oral histories on our digital archive are functional without needing to be indoors or plugged in. These changes can happen with dedicated resources and capacity to upgrade the exhibit. Funds will be used to redesign the panoramas with museum-quality, all-weather panels and integrate the Black Bottom Digital Archive oral histories with the physical exhibit. The donations sent through this campaign will support with matching the generous support being offered by the Detroit Public Library Foundation.

1. Continuing receiving quotes for re-fabrication from design firms (November 2021 - December 2021)

2. Complete re-design process (December 2021 - January 2022)

3. Complete re-fabrication of the exhibit (February - March 2022)

4. Opening exhibition of the updated BBSV (March 2022)

why we're doing it

Detroit’s experiences with displacement, erasure & gentrification are like many other major cities in this country. Considered one of the poorest sections of the city at the time, the Black Bottom neighborhood had hundreds of mostly-Black residents, over 100 mostly-Black-owned businesses, several schools, churches & cultural landmarks. Hit by the process of “urban renewal” (or “negro removal” as it is colloquially known), homes & sacred spaces were demolished as the city of Detroit chose profit over people. An area that was once full of Black culture & Black life was removed for the construction of a freeway. Black business owners & residents were completely displaced & forced to move. This history was not common knowledge among young Black Detroiters until Black Bottom Archives (BBA) changed that narrative.

All that is left in what was Black Bottom are a few buildings & street names. Other remnants are hidden underneath I-75 or the new restaurants, stadiums & apartments that were developed for people altogether different than those who made up Black Bottom’s historic population. Urban redevelopment is still disproportionately impacting Black communities & forces displacement. We have called this migrational pattern the “Detroit Diaspora,” which traces back to the “renewal” of Black Bottom in the 1940s-60s. We hope BBSV will help to make its history more visible for all of us—and that a better understanding of this history will teach us something about the current forms of displacement that are shaping Detroit today.

budget

Materials for the re-fabrication of the BBSV exhibit to make it more durable and easier to store and travel.



TOTAL PROJECT FUNDING NEEDED $10,000
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) N/A
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%)
(Donation processing fee does not apply to match funding.)
$309
TOTAL TO RAISE= $10,309

Please note, fees are estimated here and final numbers may change based on the final amount raised.

updates

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photos

This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration

donors

  • JRS
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