Grandeur Lost: The Modern Ruins of Abandoned Detroit is another abandonment post from WebUrbanist
|The now famous pic of William Livingstone house|
French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre saw the abandoned parts of this compelling urban landscape and documented it in their book The Ruins of Detroit.
|United Artists Theatre - talk about decayed grandeur!|
The city, so rich with history both industrial and individual, was once the fourth largest in the United States. It housed some of the country’s brightest engineers and most promising entrepreneurs. The city grew and its residents continued to expand their living areas into planned suburbs.
But the automobile industry which played such a large part of the city’s early days also proved part in its undoing. White middle-class residents used those cars to move out of the inner city and into their new suburbs. Segregation increased steadily until the violent race riot in 1967.
Following the riot, the city continued its rapid decline. The industry that built Detroit moved on to other locations. Inner-city residents fled their homes by the thousands. Every race and every economic class was affected by this exodus; the city simply bled away until it held less than half its former population.
Unlike almost any other place in the world, Detroit’s abandoned buildings and ruined structures are not isolated in one part of the city. Grand, well-kept buildings can exist just meters away from crumbling ruins. Inhabited and abandoned homes exist side by side in neighbourhoods.
What is so compelling about the images in The Ruins of Detroit is the seeming urgency of the city’s abandonment. In civic buildings, papers and boxes still occupy offices. In abandoned libraries, books continue to line the walls. Schools still hold desks and police stations are stuffed with forgotten and mouldering mug shots. Chairs are tipped over as though the former occupants of these buildings suddenly evacuated due to an emergency. No hope of salvaging the situation.
Given the slow but steady decline of the city’s population, this urgency is baffling. Surely there was more than enough time to clean the buildings out, remove anything that could be reused or salvaged and clean the buildings up. But it seems that no one cared to take the time to do so.
This state of partial ruination is ephemeral – eventually it must give way to complete ruin or rebuilding. As witnessed in my Decaying Detroit post, the photographers’ goal was to capture Detroit’s current state of abandonment before fate tips one way or the other.
Yet more photographs at the Weburbanist site.