By now many of us are aware of the hard times facing the people and buildings that occupy Detroit, Michigan. This past weekend a few of my photographer friends and I drove to Detroit to see for ourselves. Although we had done some research and seen photographs others had taken from the area, I am not sure we were expecting to see just how bad the situation really is.
One of the main reasons for being there last weekend was something called “Devils Night” which has been appropriately renamed “Angels Night”. During the nights leading up to Halloween it is common that many of the abandoned (and occupied) houses are set on fire. This is something that has been happening there since the 80’s, however this year there were very few fires due to strong community support and neighborhood foot patrols.
We spent our days urban exploring in abandoned buildings all over Detroit, and nights following fire trucks.
We were able to gain access to Michigan Cenral Station , the Lee Plaza Hotel, Highland Park Police/Fire/Court complex, and an abandoned project which read, W.P. Chrysler.
PHOTOS FROM THE PACKARD PLANT
While rummaging through the Packard Plant, we came across Maurice Williams, a 51 year old contractor who was checking each window for old weights.
He was able to find four weights and a hand-full of rope. The building has been abandoned and rummaged through for so long now I was surprised he was able to find even that much.
The night before Halloween had rained like crazy, and although we sat in front of one of the busiest fire-houses, we followed the truck out of the station twice and arrived to only smoke on the first call and the smoldering remains of a house on the second.
Here, two young boys run from their house dressed in their fathers clothing.
Here, two women watch as the house across the street from them is extinguished.
At the end of the night, it is sort of a relief that nobody was seriously hurt and the fact that we didn’t see anything go up in flames was just not disappointng at all.
Halloween night we were almost about to pack it in after chasing down a fire that was out by the time we arrived. As a friend put it, ” it was two outs at the bottom of the ninth” and a two alarm fire across town had us driving at high speeds to catch it.
Although the fire had taken over most of the building, the firemen have it under control in a very short time.
Unfortunately the apartment was partially occupied. Some of the residents stood and watched as their belongings burned.
We spent some time exploring in the Michigan Central Depot. This massive building stopped its rail service in 1988. At first we were hesitant and photographed only from the outside. We came across a homeless man named Alton Byrd who told us about an opening in the building where we could gain access.
Once inside, we were able to spend some time walking through the vacant rooms and seeing nature reclaim the massive space.
From the roof the city of Detroit is visible, along with the graffiti which covers the walls of almost every building we enter.