Monday, October 22, 2007

Postcard From Detroit

Sorry, Mary. This sucked me in. We went on a self-guided Detroit ruins tour Saturday. Perhaps no other American city has such a huge inventory of abandoned industrial and commercial buildings. You can find extensive detail on a few web sites, like The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit and Detroit Ruins . Or just Google "Detroit ruins."

The two left pictures in the collage on top and the bottom two large pictures are inside the Packard Motors assembly plant. Some of the writing in the "Exit" photo on the lower left looks like it might be Arabic. Detroit has a large Middle Eastern population, particularly Syrian, and I would appreciate help with translation if my guess is right. Packards were luxury cars that ceased production in 1958. The factory is enormous: 3,500,000 square feet or 325,000 square meters, and goes on for block after block. It is also completely unsecured, with no fencing and most of the doors broken in. We went in two areas. One had mountains of old shoes with no sign of how they got there. It was terribly eerie, like we had stumbled upon an old concentration camp. Another area had several beat-up old motorboats. We didn't stay long.

The bottom right picture in the collage is the old Michigan Central railway station and office building. I recognized it the moment I saw it. It is the building in the long opening scene of Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass' brilliant film, Naqoyqatsi, from a Hopi word that means a life of killing each other, war as a way of life, or, in a modern context, civilized violence. See here for some interior shots.

The top right photo in the collage is the pawn shop across the street from the train station. Even it is going out of business.

These are lots of good things about Detroit, as Mary shows us in her Detroit CDPB. However, these images were so arresting I could not resisting posting them.

TOMORROW: The family champion in Detroit


Lynette said...

Well, who's making money from the tours is the first thing that popped into my mind, followed quickly by this--Packard automobile factory? Wouldn't it be extremely unsafe since Packards have been gone ofr so long? Am I way off track? Thanks.

~tanty~ said...

Interesting pictures! Beautiful!

Bob Crowe said...

Lynette - these are not organized tour. This is strictly do it yourself, following guides on the web, other entering building illegally. I got in late last night but I;ll add some detail later.

maria elisa said...

in my city also it exists many ruins.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

You sure don't have to apologize to me, for a number of reasons:

1)I'm new to Detroit, so I don't feel defensive about it!
2)I LOVE ruins! I LOVE exploring and photographing them. I don't post as much as I otherwise might about it because I got some VERY negative angry reactions. But I myself LOVE them.
3)I like seeing the whole truth and both sides of any issue.

COOL PIX! I love them, and will have to find and check out some of the places you went that I haven't found yet.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, it doesn't look too inviting!

U "R" Us AKA Captain Crowe said...

Great stuff, Bob. Good to see we didn't get all the same shots. Mine are uploading to flickr right now. Might do a detour on the blog later this week.

Daniel Chérouvrier said...

Insiders may not forget outsiders !

Ming the Merciless said...

Interesting photos of Detroit! NYTimes have been writing about the real estate woes of Detroit residents for the last year or so.