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Hispanic Heritage Month: Mexicantown Through Artist Eyes

It's an area full of culture and food.

A history that began almost a century ago in Detroit, has now blossomed into its own self-sustaining enclave on the southwest side.

Elton Monroy Duran, a mural artist, says he first came to visit Detroit in 2014 and knew he wanted to call it home.

"And I came here looking for a better future for myself and for my family and actually that's what is pushing us," Duran said.

"To come here and pursue that dream."

Duran is using his skills as an artist to keep that rich history alive.

"And all of the murals are connected to a story, are connected to a part of the community," the artist continued.

Duran migrated from Mexico to Detroit in 2015 and has since painted 19 murals in the area, telling visual stories of the community's growth.

"Some of the older residents here in this area have been so kind that they were you know sharing this information," Duran said.

"When I'm painting murals, I like to get inspiration from these stories, from what they have to say."

Since the 1920s, Mexicans have been migrating to Southwest Detroit; settling behind the old train station, where West Vernor and Bagley Street serves as main corridors.

" So, and that's why when they arrived here, they got out of the train and they were like, 'we made it!' so like, here it is, and that's the thing why Mexicantown or this area of Detroit was taken as their home," Duran explained.

Today, Mexicantown has a thriving business district, where 82 percent of consumers visit for dining.

Duran says although Mexicantwon is known for it's cuisine, the community has much more to offer.

"When people think about southwest Detroit or Mexicantown, you think about the food, and the tacos and that's good, right, but I think it's more than that," Duran said.

"You know, like, presenting the people and presenting their stories and presenting the reality by you know, visuals. I think that to me (that's) what's important."

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