Monday, 12 April 2010

I'm falling in love with falling down buildings

When people think of America, I guess one of the few cities that people rarely think of is Detroit - that kinda northern city, up there, near ya know, Canada. A city something to do with cars with that white rapper named after the chocolates M&Ms [hey I joke!]. Google it and you will end finding a million and one images of falling down, semi demolished, semi fallen into, BUT amazingly gorgeous and utterly stunning buildings of a long lost glory.

It's making me want to make them "better" and conserve them all. So have a little peek. Don't they just make your heart flutter? Make you imagine a former age where their glory and their beauty originally shone out before contemporary reality, economic depressions and necessity for space took their place.

On the site upon which Henry Ford built his first car and owned his first garage in 1892, a grand auditorium holding four thousand seats once stood. Yet, by 1973 the Michigan Theatre - the largest in Michigan, was home to a parking lot. Being cheaper to convert rather then demolish, its insides were torn out, only its ceiling remaining to be prisoned into a concrete shell.

If anyone knows the location of this car park - i'd love to here, I need to track it down! So we go from cars to trains;
Image walking up this long coveted hall, waiting to catch your train to a new life, to meet your lover, to start afresh. From visiting new lands, to starting over through to the daily commute to work - imagine all the stories, the adventures the lives and the tales that this grand hall could speak of.

With its final passengers passing through in 1988, this is what remains of Michigan's Central Train Station which opened in 1913. In 2009 a petition for it to be demolished was past [why why why oh why? I guess over here with having the national trust and numberless bodies you'd hope such action could never be taken if this was the UK - remember just how much they've managed to change and reinvent St Pancras station in recent years].

And if this hotel pictured below - the Lee Plaza, was to open probably anywhere else in the world, imagine in a place like London or New York - imagine the prices it could command, imagine the view from the top storeys. But that is far from reality;

Built in 1929, the fifteen storey Lee Plaza Hotel which stands along West Grand Boulevard was at the time, of the cities most luxurious Art-Deco residential hotels in Detroit. While it may have been credited in 1981 as a building of national importance, today its former ballroom becomes the grave of a fallen baby grand piano, tiles and furniture still litter the rooms and halls.

The following images are from a collection entitled "100 abandoned houses" by Kevin Bauman taken in and around Detroit. All homes just stood empty, waiting for some love or the unfortunate arrival of bulldozers. Most probably the latter.

They make me wanna reach out and give them all a massive hug back to life, to make them live-able and to let them hear the sounds of life and fun back in their walls. I know Detroit is never going to have some of the limelight that other American, yet alone world cities have, regards of what its former historical glories where - yet it just makes you feel that if this city was anywhere else, it would never have been allowed to have decayed into this state.

Hopefully whenever me and JJ get the money together to do our little trip to America [and he can show me all the highlights of numberless American states] I'll be able to find these beauties and see how they are looking these days here's hoping at least some of the buildings still remain.

Oh and if your in the Detroit area - it has some amazing antiques/second hand shops - and I'm jealous for a million and one other reasons.


  1. these are all beautiful! I'd love to visit these too. x

  2. Okay, THANK YOU for this. I've only realized I now live a a reasonably short drive away from Detroit and now I HAVE to go. I will be sure to try to check out those AMAZING places you've highlighted! Awesome

  3. Once I get, or refind the names of the antique shops in Detroit i'll let you know Baroness!

  4. Interesting post!:D Glad you shared these pictures!:D
    ...and everything girly under the sun!

  5. Stunning photos. The broken down houses at the end make me terribly sad - is that weird? There's something upsetting about an unloved house!

  6. I agree with you Jen, it's like they are all just waiting to die, so unloved and unwanted. Shame really when so many people need places to live.

  7. Such a shame these beautiful buildings were not kept up!

  8. absolutely ahhhmazing finds! i love old buildings and ruins...they have sooo much character and depth to them!

  9. arh once a place full of the great motown movement full of life,now a poor forgotten place, so sad and those buildings are wondeful such a shame!

  10. This truly is unbelievable, and I feel the same when thinking about these old building. I hope that Detroit is the last of our great cities to suffer this fate. I couldn't imagine standing in a building so incredibly beautiful, in a then and now situation like this. Safe to say no sum of money could fix a building like that, sad to say, so it should remain a painful lesson. Great article you did here.