Detroit

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, seeing the world with a photographer’s eyes makes everything more interesting and beautiful. In fact, Detroit’s urban decay has inspired so many professional and citizen photographers to record its haunting beauty that the scenes have become a bit clichéd, which changes neither my love for them nor my intention to road trip there myself at some point before a wave of gentrification knocks down, gussies up or replaces the burned out shells of abandoned buildings. Artists, entrepreneurs and adventurous early adapters sensed opportunity several years ago, and from what I hear, things are starting to happen. Farmers markets, great food and gorgeous architecture at jaw-droppingly low prices. I haven’t visited Detroit since we passed through during a family road trip from Chicago to Niagara Falls when I was 11 or 12. I don’t remember much (it was a long car ride), but I’m looking forward to a return trip.  I’ve included a few images from a spectacular Huffington Post slideshow. Please check out the entire slide show for many more amazing images.

The Wednesday Question: Will Detroit make a comeback? Why or why not?

The Wednesday Question for Antique and Vintage Dealers: Are you drooling over the amazing furniture in the abandoned banks, classrooms and hotels featured in the slides? If so, please venture to Detroit on our behalf and mark up your bounty appropriately.

Source: Huffington Post

Source: Huffington Post

Source: Huffington Post

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5 Responses to “Detroit”

  1. decorator dave 22. Mar, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    I want to do the same road trip. Want to go up together some weekend…one of my best friends lives in an 1830s farmhouse mansion outside of Ann Arbor (www.stevenball.com) and could give you a grand tour of both towns. He also live close to the Jiffy Mix factory so it smells like cornbread all of the time.

  2. My friend, Scott, who lives in Ann Arbor took me there last year. It is a great place to visit. Lots of rejuvenation and deterioration side by side.

  3. Interesting post –I worked in Detroit for about half a year in 1985 and much of it looked like this even then. Now of course it is even worse. I bought a book of photos of Detroit’s ruins and the author had an interesting idea: “Ruin is a temporary state” and only results from certain fleeting conditions. Most of what you see in the photos you posted will not last very long in that state (like the papers and books and chairs and other soft articles). A chaotic ruin of the type you see in those photos is truly rare, usually only seen as a result of war or natural disaster.

    Some thoughts: The city of Rome had a population of over 1,000,000 well into the 400’s AD., just before the fall of the empire to the Goths. Sometime in the 500’s or 600’s it briefly bottomed out at 10,000. The city was filled with empty an decaying 4 and 5 storey apartment buildings made from brick and wood. A century later all that remained were piles of bricks and the grander stone ruins in the center, the great baths, still functioning aqueducts , roads and some churches. Everything else was rubble. There were no public services and no way to maintain the sprawling physical plant with so few residents to support it. Huge tracts simply went back to nature inspiring (in the 18th Century) lots of pretty romantic paintings of cows grazing in the Forum, amidst broken Corinthian columns and triumphal arches sprouting shrubs.

    Analogous to the Roman Forum, Downtown Detroit has a wonderful stand of art deco skyscrapers that will probably survive to its Renaissance. A fine street plan, too, that was designed by the same French architect who laid out DC: L’Enfant. Instead of a straight grid, it is a grid with a radial structure of boulevards superimposed on it. Downtown is the center of the axis and what this means is that there are many triangular pocket parks and odd lots just right for small, unique structures. Combine that with skyscraper architecture and art deco setbacks and you have the potential for a downtown that is exceptionally cozy and interesting. The collapse of the economy may have actually preserved many of these buildings –they weren’t worth tearing down. Some now have trees and shrubs growing from their rooftops!

    I’m from Michigan, BTW. I can appreciate the aesthetics of decay but It breaks my heart when I see it. There is a biblical passage that I will probably misquote “when the leaders lack vision, the people perish”. In Detroit even the anger is now dulled –the people are gone.

  4. For Detroit to make a meback, the present population would need to pack up and leave as they seem to be doing in Oakland.

  5. I went to Detroit a year and a half ago for a wedding with hopes to find the city people claimed was making a comeback. I don’t want to be a downer, but it was shockingly decayed and there was a sorrow I hadn’t felt in a large city before. The only signs of life I saw were in the suburbs. Sad. Maybe I missed something.
    It would be terribly sad for Detroit- a city of such brawn to completely collapse. This has nothing to do with the bible by the way and just the effects of poor planning.