Thanks. Amazing images. Sadly, not a unique situation, except maybe in sheer scale. The whole "rust belt" has places like this.
My folks moved to Detroit when Dad was discharged after WWII. He worked for Hudson for a while, but by 51 the boom was cooling and he had 3 jobs trying to get enough hours to get by. When Mom found out I was on the way, she told Dad she was having the baby in California, and he could come along if he liked She said she had seen enough winter for a lifetime, never wanted to walk in slushy snow again........
So......... I came that close to being a Detroit kid
You can find big pretty decaying old landmarks in most older cities.
Detroit just has a lot more than most.
Buildings become obsolete and then sit and decay.
We have plenty around Philly and it is not exactly a declining city.
In many cases the owners don't have a current use for them,
the preservationists wont let the owners tear them down,
or it's cheaper to just mothball them.
I shot some ruin pics this past weekend. I just like architecture, ruins or not. Some graffiti is well done there. I also stood on the roof of an abandoned apartment house and got some great skyline shots.
Robb Mann wrote: Given the insane distortion of that arch im sure the building has collapsed already.
Wtf lens was he using? Some kind of lenbaby?
Actually the owner just replaced all the windows in the building. Not out of true desire to do good, but just trying to curry favor with the public for his pet ballot proposal.
The proposal went down in flames, I'm sure Matty won't spend another dime on it. Which is sad....he could re-hab that entire building, spend 400 million in doing so and still probably be a billionaire.
Detroit is pretty well-worn territory at this point. Not that it's not always good to have further documentation of buildings that'll almost certainly meet with a wrecking ball, but the country is full of abandoned buildings, many of them more interesting and less photographed than the ruins of Detroit.
The problem is that these photos only show big buildings. You have to actually drive through what is left of the neighborhoods to see the rest of the story. There are many blocks with no houses left, or only one house left. Probably more than 10,000 burned out or abandoned houses in the city, no money to tear them down. Even the main business streets like Grand River have areas where there are no commercial store buildings left. It has been said that the city covers way too many square miles for the population and they cannot maintain public services and utilities into the future because of that. Most of the infrastructure is many decades old, some dating to well before WW2 and beyond its useful life expectancy. We see pictures on the TV news showing underground wiring in old brick tunnels held up off the ground by plastic milk crates because the original metal brackets holding the insulators to the side walls have rusted away and there is no money to revamp the system.
Some have ventured to say that the city could easily fit the remaining viable homes and businesses into 1/4 or less the area the city currently occupies.
City services have declined to near non-existent because the city is on the edge of bankruptcy. They often only have a few ambulances that run, the rest of them are in the garage waiting for repairs, and if you happen to be on the opposite side of town from where one is available it could take 30 to 45 minutes for response if they come at all. People often resort to transporting medical emergencies in their own private cars rather than taking the chance of waiting for an ambulance that might not come. Some have died needlessly as a result of the lack of response, which is very sad. Police stations lock the doors at 4PM, if you need to make a report you have to do it over the phone, there is absolutely no chance of them coming for anything but a serious accident or crime.
It has been suggested by Mayor Dave Bing (remember him? used to be a big basketball star, more recently a business entrepeneur) that encouraging people to move from the worst areas into the remaining livable housing would allow the city to bulldoze about half of the area and reduce operating costs, but it would cost too much to do the relocation and demolition. They are hesitant to force people who have lived in/owned their homes for decades to pack up and move, thinking most would leave the city if that happened. What do you then do with the vacant land? Last person to leave Detroit, please don't forget to turn off the lights.
Humans moving on and abandoning property had been going on for millenia, Whether it is the Acropolis or the ghost towns of the old west, people move on when necessary. Funny thing is, after enough time passes, rather than being sad they become treasured artifacts.
Darkroom Art wrote: Great places to shoot. Reminds me of Eastern State Pen in Philadelphia. The real question is how to gain permission/access to the buildings?
You won't see any cops anywhere near any of those places... they're wide open. You just want to be prepared for whatever you might find in there.
A local told me about one building that had water in the basement, and it was frozen over in the winter. Kids used it for an ice hockey rink, and were taking advantage of a frozen human leg sticking up through the ice for a goal post. It stayed that way all winter.
The situation with Detroit is what has happened to thousands of goldrush & ghost towns over the years, albeit on a larger scale. It grew to be a great city because of the Auto and related industries, but a combination of downsizing, restructuring and market changes has reduced that greatly, and there was no other industry to take its place. In an ideal world and with a bit of help and forsight something might have been done, New York for example had a decline and urban decay in the 60's & 70's but this go turned around, but sometimes it simply can't be helped.
As someone who has moved to Detroit recently, I have seen a lot of this "ruin porn" or abandoned building shots, etc. I have multiple photographer friends who specialize in it. Personally, I have little interest in trespassing and all that. I have shot multiple times (legally) in the Leland Hotel. The ballroom there is gorgeous, you can see a few shots in it in my port.
Everybody always seems to bill Detroit as abandoned and horrible and decaying. Yes, some parts are. But the city is far from dying from what I have seen. This past weekend I went to a holiday festival called Noel Night which reportedly brought in 35,000 people last year (reference) and I would guess even more this year as the weather was mild and lovely.
The city is very vibrant and the suburbs of it (Ferndale and Royal Oak are really good examples) are even more so, from what I have seen. If the city is "dying" I have not seen any of it. Sure there are decaying buildings, but there are also buildings being restored or re-purposed from what I have heard and seen.
The art community and specifically the model photography community is awesome here. So many talented and awesome people ^_^
I know Detroit gets a bad reputation, but it really is a beautiful, lively place. And this is coming from a girl who thought she would never like a big city and is fairly cautious about such things.
I was born in Detroit (actually Hazel Park, a city inside Detroit!), 8 Mile and John R (mom's family lived on East George, dad's on West George, the divider was John R). It is painful to go back to the old area, but I also have family in Pittsburgh and remember when that city went through its rough times.
Detroit is one of the world's great cities, and will be again. Detroit more than Chicago is the muscle of America, the city of big motors (Milwaukee is the city of small motors, betcha didn't know that!). Albert Speer, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich, on the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor told his wife that Germany had lost the war. She asked him why he would say that, and Speer answered: "Because we can't bomb Detroit."
Interestingly if Pittsburgh is any model, it's the arts and artists that will lead the revival. The infrastructure is there, it's a cheap place to get started, and the city's location on the Great Lakes (one of the factors that built Detroit in the first place) make Detroit an opportunity for the future. The Tigers, the Red Wings, and even the Pistons have recently had great teams, if the Lions can finally get their act together, Detroit will once again be "The City of Champions"!