Is that the big block by Southwestern at the end of Hammerberg? This artwork is one of the better projects. That old thing must have thousands of coats of paint on it by now....
Yup that's where it's located. We normally call it "The Rock". Good ole former Mayor Williamson considered making it illegal to paint it a few years back - what a dolt. I still pass it every night on the way home from work via 12th/Ballenger at Hammerberg.Dan GibbsRankin, MI
I passed it right at Christmas and there had been a horrible accident where someone had tried to kill himself after drinking-he did die but his driver didn't. I think I like this so much better than police cars and wreckage.
I used to pass by this frequently. Some other sites say that it was first painted around 1969 by students at Flint Southwestern HIGH SCHOOL, the one that Wikipedia FORGOT. It said SWP (Southwestern Pride) and Oh Yeah! in blue paint with no background except cement.The cement block contains pumps and drains to keep the intersection dry. The road grade there was lowered when the I-69 intersection was built. To my knowledege, it was not there before, though there is folklore that says it was.
I can remember when The Block was bare concrete, and then had "S.W.P. Oh Yeah" painted on it.When I was a teenager, back in the '70s, I used to explore tunnels and tiles around Flint, as was mentioned in the posts about "The Tiles" http://www.flintexpats.com/search?q=tilesThere is a tile that goes from the Block under Hammerberg Road to Swartz Creek, and another tile from out of the back of the Block, under the railroad tracks behind it. I've actually been inside of the Block, back in the '70s. In October of last year I went back there to take another look at it again, and to take some pictures:http://www.flickr.com/photos/92726077@N00/tags/theblock/
The block brings back some memories of that particular intersection. It used to be all gravel when we would go visit my grandma off Corunna Rd. We would start on Atherton Rd. which also was gravel drive to what is now Van Slyke, also gravel then head north and cross the Grand Trunk tracks and back on Torrey Rd., head east, then turn right on Rablee Rd.(Hammerberg) pass Swartz Creek golf course and up to Miller Rd. All paved from then on,except for my grandma's street, Reynolds, it was gravel. During that trip, you could count maybe ten houses and two farms and all were on Atherton Rd. except for the tank testing grounds and building in Happy Hollow you passed on the way up to Miller. I used to hunt pheasants all along both sides of Van Slyke up to Bristol Rd. At that time,it was still called Torrey Rd. where all the GM factories were built later on. Back to the block...it was put there when they built I69 and the exit ramp. Southwestern was already in place of course, so the kids had to wait for a few years to express their chalk and paint talent. Swartz Creek under the tracks is a whole other story....I'll save for later. Ah- ah don't get me started.
Some old maps show that gravel street as an extension of Cambridge Dr. They also have the section of Hammerberg Rd. from Atherton Rd. to Greenbrook Lane shown as Cambridge Dr. I don't know if the section of Hammerberg Rd. from Bristol Rd. to Hemphill Rd. was built at that time. Ballenger Hwy. is shown as Rablee Rd.
I did some checking and found out that Rablee Rd. was named after a farmer named Nathan J. Rablee, who lived in or near Flint in 1880. Genealogy sites show a relative named Ketzler, who is probably related to the person after whom nearby Ketzler Dr. is named. Still looking to find out who Claude was.
Cambridge Dr. went over a bridge and into Swartz Creek Valley Park. The bridge is closed. The road, which was dirt or gravel, then veered to the west and came out to Torrey Rd. (12th St.) near Van Slyke Rd. Until Hammerberg Rd. was built, this was the only way to get through from Miller Rd./Court St. to Torrey Rd./12th St. between Fenton Rd./Ann Arbor St. and Ballenger Hwy./Rablee Rd.
...interesting. The bridge is definitely still there, as seen here:http://www.bing.com/maps/#JnE9eXAuQ2FtYnJpZGdlK0F2ZSU0MDIrRmxpbnQlMmMrTUklN2Vzc3QuMCU3ZXBnLjEmYmI9NTguNjIxODk5MDg3NTU3NiU3ZS00Mi44MjY4NTg1MjElN2UyMi40MTQ3OTYwNzU0MTUxJTdlLTEyNC41NjUxMzk3NzE=
There were lots of changes there when they built I-69, in addition to the changes when they built the Fenton Clio Expressway, now I-75. Cluade Ave. used to go from Ballenger Hwy. to Miller Rd., and of course Torrey Rd. continued down toward Bristol, veering South.The reason I-69 is so close to 12th St. is they wanted to preserve the golf course. They even had a ski slope of some description near the Rock.Cambridge was the other entrance to the golf course from Torrey Rd./12th St.
This comment section simply astounds me. Not really my neighborhood, but I appreciate the detail.
I thought I remembered aerial photos of this area being posted somewhere, and I was right. They were in this blog:http://www.flintexpats.com/2008/10/wanted-chevy-in-hole-expert.html
There was a round swimming pool in Swartz Creek Valley Park near the Cambridge Ave. entrance. You can see it on all three of those pictures you linked. Once Hammerberg was built, they rerouted the Torrey Rd. entrance to near Van Slyke, apparently. I wish I could zoom in on those images to see what's there better.
On the 1964 aerial, that J.L. refers to above, I believe you can make out where the legendary toboggan chute was located. Going by memory, the tower was near the intersection of 12th and Hammerberg and the chute ran seemingly forever, (to a kid anyway), generating breakneck speed, (to a kid anyway), downhill to the northwest, (where the interchange is situated now). I wonder who enjoyed that thing more; us 1960s olympic bobsled team wannabes, or the local liability attorneys.
I lived on Swartz Creek Golf Course from 55 to 65. On that hill was the toboggan chute a ski tow lifted and a sliding N g area. Below was the round pool that was filled in and used as a skating rink. All that and the Golf course was my yard growing up.
There's something in the art that reminds me of Banksy's stuff...
Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at www.teardownbook.com.