Monday, January 3, 2011

The Feral Houses of Detroit - Part Deux

Last week we covered one of the more spectacular and haunting side effects of the dramatic decline of Detroit - the rise of "feral houses" and even "feral neighborhoods" that are so thoroughly abandoned they revert to a natural state.

Part of the City of Detroit's economic rescue plan involves essentially withdrawing from nearly one-quarter of the city's land area and letting it become wild. Cut off your nose to spite your face. For those living in Detroit, this must be a stunning reality that not only has the city been in sharp decline since the 1960s, it is completely evacuating large sections of once elegant neighborhoods just to remain financially solvent. Once among the richest of American cities, it now seems more like an internationally famous ghost town. Our version of Somalia, if you will.

A note for the Detroit Chamber of Commerce: "ugly tourism" is all the rage right now in Europe. Like "slum tours" through the favelas of Rio de Janeiro or "grief tourism" to the killing fields of Cambodia and Auschwitz, Detroit needs to take advantage of its clear monopoly on decay and the powerful story of its riches-to-rags downfall. Might I suggest a marketing slogan to tempt the more thrill-seeking among us? "Zombieland Detroit: And You Thought it Was Just a Movie"

This series from the Guardian has excellent photos of the interiors of some of Detroit's most tragically derelict buildings. The incredible thing about many of these shots is that so many of the buildings appear to have been abandoned so suddenly and without planning, with knicknacks and personal belonging still left untouched decades later. In many ways it's eerily reminiscent of post-Katrina, except this disaster was entirely man-made. All photographs by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.
East Methodist Church
Detroit’s Vanity Ballroom with its unsalvaged art deco chandeliers. Duke Ellington and Tommy Dorsey once played here.

The biology classroom at George W Ferris School in the Detroit suburb of Highland Park

Dentist's station, Broderick Tower

Light court - Farwell Building
Michigan Central Station

Michigan Theater - now a parking lot?
Former police station, Highland Park
The ballroom of the 15-floor art-deco Lee Plaza Hotel, an apartment building with hotel services built in 1929 and derelict since the early 1990s

The ruined Spanish-Gothic interior of the United Artists Theater in Detroit. The cinema was built in 1928 by C Howard Crane, and finally closed in 1974
Waiting Hall, Michigan Central Station

Livingstone House, designed in French Renaissance style in 1893, demolished after this picture was taken.

Via: Planetizen

1 comment:

  1. How sad. I've actually been to some of those places. I lived in Michigan from 1970 to 1979 and used to go to Detroit for concerts and to auto shows.