11 thoughts about that golden ring statue in Sterl...

11 thoughts about that golden ring statue in Sterling Heights

The city of Sterling Heights, Mich., erected a large gold ring and new signage to promote M-59 as the

Last month, the city of Sterling Heights erected the “Golden Corridor icon,” a giant circle sculpture on M-59 by Lakeside Mall. With a cost of about about $180,000, it’s part of the Detroit suburb’s larger landscape and roadway improvement project and will be joined by more standard city signs.

“The primary purpose of enhancing the Golden Corridor brand is to ensure the corridor remains a destination and to increase the number of visitors, shoppers and overall business development of the corridor,” the city elucidated in a tweet. But there is still sooo much to speculate about.

  1. Have people been calling M-59 the Golden Corridor all this time and we just missed it? What’s so golden about it? You can find the term referenced in short histories of Macomb County; it seems to refer to the area’s clustering of companies that drive the economy, or possibly the retail shopping. There’s also a video on PBS that uses the name liberally without explaining a satisfying backstory.   
  2. It looks like Troy’s Big Beaver also has a claim on the local Golden Corridor title — Wikipedia thinks the one true Golden Corridor is outside Chicago.  
  3. Did you watch the city’s video of a crew putting the sculpture up? This thing is huge, 35 feet in diameter. Actually, $180k doesn’t seem so unreasonable.
  4. Most creative nickname suggested on social media? Golden Onion Ring. Most profane? Golden c*** ring. Best alternative branding? The Golden Butthole, the name it’s given in a very unofficial Facebook page. 
  5. Overall, the internet response seems to be amusement and anger about wasteful spending. True art might be invaluable, but what about branding sculptures?
  6. Unclear exactly what one gold ring in the median of a busy road is supposed to tell us, symbolism-wise. And what’s with the giant circle sculptures? We’ve already got a local icon in that department, with “Transcending” at Hart Plaza downtown. There’s also “Dawn,” even closer in Warren. Both were created by the late sculptor David Barr.
  7. And you can’t forget the Uniroyal Tire, more than double the height of the Golden Corridor Icon.
  8. The passive aggressive drama playing out between Macomb County city leaders is kind of delicious — Shelby and Clinton Township had the opportunity to build their own golden rings and declined. But they were definitely shady in their public explanation, with backhanded compliments and seemingly disingenuous self-deprecating comments about their more responsible budgeting.

“Nobody is going to look at those arches and say, ‘We need to stop and shop here,'” Shelby Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis told the Macomb Daily after complimenting the sculpture’s appearance.

“For Mayor [Michael] Taylor and his community, he is doing the right thing. They need a shot in the arm right by Lakeside Mall,” said Clinton Township Supervisor Robert Cannon. “It’s a very nice showpiece, but we’d rather have additional lanes of roads improved in our township.”

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor had his own comeback: “I guess none of them have the same vision about signage and landscaping that we do in Sterling Heights.”

  1. Honestly this has been a real learning experience about the culture in Macomb County. We knew about M-59’s congested lanes and endless chain stores, but not so much about the interest in public sculpture. We’re overwhelmed by the sheer number of landmarks on this map of the county’s public art, and actually eager to go see quite a few.
  2. And look, we don’t want to totally knock this giant golden circle, even if in photos it looks more Vegas-knockoff bronze than gold. But one ring can only do so much. This quote from City Manager Mark Vanderpool in the Sterling Heights Sentry says it all: “With over 100,000 motorists traveling through the area daily with little knowledge that they’re in Sterling Heights, businesses and residents expect that the city is doing all that is possible to preserve and enhance these prominent corridors.” (Emphasis absolutely added.)
  3.  Anyways, this is a pretty nice view from Gary Lusk!

Kate Abbey-Lambertz is the co-founder and editorial director for Detour Media. She leads editorial strategy for the signature Detour Detroit newsletter, The Blend and special projects, while shaping Detour’s membership program, audience development initiatives and design. Kate was previously a national reporter at HuffPost, where she covered equitable cities and urban issues. She launched HuffPost’s Detroit vertical, serving as reporter and editor, and has reported on Detroit for a decade. Follow her on Twitter: @kabbeyl