A Guide to Post-Industrial Detroit: Unconventional Tours of an Urban Landscape
Detroit, once the prosperous automobile capital of the world, has experienced serious population loss leading to abandoned buildings and neighborhoods. For the urban explorer, it presents a unique experience. This book, with 200 photos, guides the reader along tours of the ruins and splendors of The Motor City. More
The city of Detroit, Michigan has become a magnet for “urban explorers,” people who like to roam around the ruins of formerly occupied urban areas. Motivations vary: curiosity; desire to photograph urban decay; for graffiti artists, an ideal environment for their art; and, for vandals, lots of buildings to strip of their metals and anything of value.
This book, with 200 photos, is about exploring Detroit, its beautiful architecture, its splendid ruins and its abandoned neighborhoods. The author takes you inside the graffiti-filled walls of abandoned factories and empty homes, with directions for readers who might want to do some urban exploring.
Detroit’s abandoned neighborhood problem is compounded by the fact that it is a physically large city, covering 143 square miles. Whole sections are now unoccupied, just vacant fields and rotting buildings, sidewalks and streets cracked and filled with weeds, trash and old tires that seem to be dumped everywhere. Over the last 50 years, the city has lost most of its industrial base, and nearly two-thirds of its population.
Detroit Is one of America’s oldest cities, founded in 1701 by French explorers. Its population peaked in the 1950s, following waves of immigrants from Europe and migrations of people from the South. Over decades of growth and prosperity, the city became home to magnificent buildings, splendid churches, and massive factories. Woodward Avenue, the main street in Detroit, is so full of beautiful, historic and architecturally significant buildings that it is the ONLY urban highway in the US to be officially designated a “Scenic Byway.”
Detroit is unique in both its store of beautiful buildings (whether still in use or abandoned) and the extent of its population loss. While it offers visitors wonderful tourist-type attractions, but the more adventurous visitor can observe an incredible phenomenon, urban abandonment and decay. Observe, explore and photograph old buildings, empty storefronts, commercial buildings, and abandoned schools. Tour streets of abandoned houses, see relics of the auto industry, including the 3.5 million square foot complex of empty buildings that was the Packard Motor Car Company, decaying since the company went out of business in 1956.
The author came to Detroit in 1964 to attend Wayne State University where she met her husband, David. In 1967, they were newly-weds when the infamous riot broke out not far from where they were living. They experienced first-hand a city in chaos, with fires burning in all directions. Retired now, Theresa and David have been going back to places where they lived and worked in the city to photograph and observe. Fascinated by the extent of the emptiness and devastation, they found themselves gradually joining the odd fraternity of urban explorers. Here, they share their stories and provide a collection of "tours" you can actually take or be an armchair explorer and just follow along with the commentary and photos in this book.