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The sun rises over Lake St. Clair in this view from the Belle Isle shore in the Detroit River. In right distance is Windsor, Ontario in Canada. Across the mouth of Lake St. Clair on the far left is Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe.

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HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?


Fabulous Letters to the Author

     Among the thousands of letters I have received in response to this site, the following have been especially outstanding for their writing, perception and or passion.  I have chosen to share these because they elucidate many of the issues of this site and help me reflect on what I am doing. My thanks goes to all who have written and a special thanks to the following writers who I have quoted.

Thank you for your haunting images of the death of an icon. I have see many videos of buildings being imploded and have seen one in person, but your pictures are like watching stop-motion film. There are so many things going on simultaneously that your eyes and mind can't process all that information in the time it takes to take a building from wholeness to oblivion. I especially liked the one where a waterfall of debris was pouring from one portion of the building. And your wonderful prose made the presentation magnificient. Congratulations.

Sincerely, Barbara Kennedy, Houston, TX

Hello. I stumbled across your website when I was looking for info on how The Silverdome's roof worked. (as odd as that may seem :-) ) I'm 25 years old. I was born in Detroit, just north of Outer drive off of Gratiot. My family and I left for the burbs in 1980. I have always loved the city for some reason. Maybe its the old buildings....but I think its more so the feelings I get when I'm there. Its as if I can feel the buildings, streets, and vacant lots sadness. I have such a STRONG urge to save them. Its good to know that their is others out there who feel the same way. I love your site! I've been looking into buying a nice camera..I thought it would be a good way to spend more time in the city and get involved in saving it. After finding your site I've decided to not wait any longer. I'm gonna place my order! Is there any preservation organizations or projects I can volunteer for? I would love to help out....I just don't know where to start. Thanks so much.

J Stone

I visited your site and found it excellent as well as depressing. I live in Dallas Texas. I was born and raised in the midwest. I love cities like Chicago and Detroit. It is very depressing to see Detroit in ruins. These are the cities that built the United States and where the industrial revolution flourished; Cities of Industry...

I would love the opportunity to move to a city such as Detroit. Unfortunately, the technology that I am involved with is not located in the Midwest. As we migrate to the suburbs, climb the corporate ladder, we soon forget about the core that built the areas surrounding it. As the tax base moves to the suburbs, what is a city to do? The more that we import as well as manufacture in other countries (NAFTA - Mexico), it is easy to see why a city like Detroit has crumbled. It is easy to overlook decaying neighborhoods that we do not feel safe in. We end up with areas were the occupants of these neighborhoods seem resentful and angry at intruders, despair is in the air, crime is rampant, as well as drugs and all other evils.

I am glad that you show information about renovations and restorations. A very well presented and honest look at Detroit.

You have put together a site that is worthy and honorable.

Sincerely, Mike Artwick

I am passionate preservationist. I am also the daughter of parents native to Detroit. And I am heartbroken by these images.

Many of the buildings commemorated by your site are those I heard my parents mention throughout my childhood; they met at U of D & dated at many now lost downtown haunts. One of them attended St. Stanislaus school and my mom and grandmother both worked for Hudson's, my mom then moving on to GM. One of my grandfathers worked for Ford, the other for Chrysler.

While I seldom visited (I grew up in San Diego, where my parents moved after marrying), downtown Detroit was my vicarious hometown through my parents stories. Here I am, with the urge to restore and preserve flowing through the blood in my veins, and the only major US city to which I am linked has rotted away fully. The blight your photos convey is beyond comprehension.

My husband forwarded your page to me and to my mother. When I called her today, she was weeping. And I was weeping for her, and so much lost grandeur, grace, and vision.

Thank you for the service you've provided by compiling this site so lovingly. In my visions of Detroit, I'll imagine a group of us who love the city and it's architecture having coffee on one of those apartment balconies on Mackinaw Avenue.

CEB

Celeste E. Bulley

it is painful and i cannot look at it all. its like violence or dead bodies it is extra weird seeing it on a screen like this. i think of working out at the downtown y or having lunch at john r and elizabeth not so long ago. i don't have the energy now to respond to such a large undertaking as this site. in some ways it is troubling though it strikes me like the demolished by neglect exhibit did years ago--an attempt to bring attention and hopefully action to save our buildings, our city and ourselves.

its easier now that i've been living in dc not to feel as much as i used to though i'm still in detroit regularly, will be there tomorrow in fact and still like to be in the city in spite of all that's happened or not.

maybe i'll look at the site again and send you some more specific comments. since i was referred to it by a friend from here who doesn't know detroit, i was skeptical that it might be the evil work of some foolish out of towner. there seems to be more thought in it than that. i wonder if you could achieve your goals for the site with another name for it and including additional text and photos to give more of a sense of the city than just this. not sure if i think that's best here but its a reaction. did you see the metro times review earlier this year of jerome's piece at the ford auditorium garage? that's the kind of writing this site needs and the world needs to read to try and understand the great city still, enigma? maybe. muse, certainly.

viva detroit.

david schon in exile washington, dc

I learned about your website in the Society for Industrial Archeology newsletter. My expectations were more than exceeded, and I was overwhelmed. The nearest word I can use to describe it is "poetic" as the experience was powerful and moving. I have lived in two cities (Buffalo and Chicago), and traveled to others, and my visit to your website rekindled many of the emotions I feel about the fate of the American metropolis. It is difficult to love something as much as a city and it's architecture, because it is the love that brings both pleasure and anguish. If one cares enough to try to make a difference they must also deal with the anger of watching things disappear because of stupidity, greed and indolence. We have become a society whose greatest achievement is the trash pile.

Unstated in your work is the fact that racial flight has been the overriding impetus in the destruction of the American city. This powerful set of emotions, coupled with the American predilection for movement and the freedom of open spaces, has drained many of this country's great urban centers of the vitality they need to survive. We flee in fear of the unknown, abandoning the communities that nurtured us, then turn in anger on those who "forced" us out. By depriving the new residents of the economic, social and political power to maintain those neighborhoods, we complete the cycle of fear and hatred by smugly denigrating the powerless as not having the values necessary to maintain what we have abandoned. Just like cancer, fear and ignorance will begin in a small place and grow to overwhelm the whole body.

The ancient ruins that inspire you were the remnants of cultures who had played out their moment in history. The most depressing aspect of the events you document is that our culture creates its ruins in rapidly increasing fashion. We are not talking in terms of centuries, but in terms of decades. We have become a society that is forced to live amongst the ruins of its dreams, aspirations, greed and waste. The incinerator amongst the decaying neighborhoods is an apt metaphor for what we have allowed ourselves to become.

Thank you for your hard work and heartfelt emotion.

David Daruszka Chicago, IL

This is simply the most thoughtful, beautiful use of the Internet and World Wide Web I have ever encountered. I am at times fiercely proud to be born and raised in Detroit, and at other times, sad and maybe even embarrassed. I've seen many of the sites you captured in photos and paintings, but until I visited your site, I only saw the outer shell of decay and disuse. In your photos, I swear I can almost see these places as they were -- beautiful in their function and form, and in some cases just beautiful to please the eye. I can almost see the ghosts in their daily bustle. And, I feel a pang of sadness when I think of what those ghosts would see now. At the same time, I feel a bit of hope at the possibility for renewal. Thank you for sharing your vision.

Dave Woomer Detroit, Michigan.

Thanks for the web site. Awesome. I'm reassured to learn there are many others like me who still feel sad about the loss of interesting buildings and ways of life in our old cities.

 I'm a southern rust belter (New Jerseyan) whose father worked in NJ Ford plants for 38 years. I've seen plenty of decaying or blown out beautiful old houses in my part of the world. But I hear that-- and your site suggests-- Detroit may just be the paragon of decay. 

The worst part of this decay is to see these skeletons juxtaposed to vacant lands because it only makes one imagine how many MORE such places that can never be rebuilt, or even IMAGINED, used to exist. Your site allows at least an attenuated opportunity to imagine. 

My overarching feeling is, as others have written, what a terrible waste of beauty and utility and community has occurred. How long after the riots did it take for the houses to be flattened? Did they hang in, dilapidated and vacant, for a while and disappear gradually? Or was it a swift, sudden decline? Are there any good books about this? 

As absolutely monolithic suburbanization makes its final assault on America (next, the world) I find myself drawn to Detroit. Is it still worth coming? Are there any guided tours? Is it really true that you need a car to navigate the city? I was naively hoping to take some buses around town when I visit this summer. 

Hey, maybe we shouldn't be so sad about boring, sterile modern structures replacing interesting old ones. With embryo selection already here and cloning and genetic engineering looming, our human appearance may soon resemble our architecture. The same "Great Minds" that flattened our cities and put up glass and steel boxes are leading us to terminal boredom.

I was born in Detroit and grew up in the suburbs. I left the area in the 70s after graduating from the University of Michigan. I was tired of Detroit's decay, it's lack of opportunity, and it's racism. Just this morning a high school pal sent me this URL with a note attached - WOW - was all he said, or had to say. I have to tell you that your site left me in tears.

Tears remembering Detroit the way it used to be, and tears for seeing it deteriorate even further. I applaud you for documenting this decline and for digging into the history of so many of these wonderful buildings. Detroit does have a rich and magnificent past that is being lost. I remember my father driving around town and getting misty when he saw streets he grew up on as a boy covered in trash, and houses destroyed through years of neglect. After the riots in the late 60s we stopped going downtown - it was too painful and became 'unsafe'. My mother (from Kingsville Ontario) was always afraid when we had to drive downtown to use the tunnel or the bridge.

I left and moved West - trying to find a better way. I have not found anything better, merely different. I thought that Californians had cornered the market on blowing up history. Nothing here is over 50 years old, or if it is, it is dilapidated and waiting for implosion. Perhaps this is the way of the future. In San Jose there have been fights over theaters long since closed, and over historic buildings torn down to make room for steel and glass monoliths to house the new giants of industry. We have similar concerns here - the loss of historic industries, the devaluation of the past.

Silicon Valley was once a huge orchard - filled with plums, cherries, apples, and peaches. The street names tell all - Blossom Valley, Prunedale, Cherry. All of the canning factories resided here. The Del Monte factory is the only one left. The others have closed. The orchards are gone and have been turned into strip malls and semiconductor houses. And some of the semiconductor houses have been torn down to make way for the internet or software barons. The people here mourn too.

But our mourning is not as sad as that in Detroit. The good old days are gone, the schools are lost, the canneries are closed, the new buildings are ugly and without aesthetics. The difference is we have lots of sun, lots of money on the horizon, and unlimited prospects. Unfortunately, Detroit appears to be in much worse shape. A friend of mine moved to Troy, Michigan two months ago. He was born and raised in Southern California. He feels the auto industry is making a huge comeback. I wished him luck. Let's hope he's right.

Thanks for bringing Detroit back to me, if just for a short while. Always good to be reminded where you came from, and to take that with you wherever you are going to. I'll try to muster up some cash to help you to continue your project(s). Much success to you.

Robin Brack Ex-Detroiter Currently residing in San Jose, California

I have visted your website many times,and as someone who worked in southwestern Detroit I found your website breathtaking. Detroit looks like a town that people could not wait to get up and leave. Nevertheless with all the "demolition by neglect" Their really is a spirit to these buildings and houses they are like friends from another era, they remind us of the dreams and hopes of people from another time. Living presently in Arizona where there is a constant need to build more and more stripmalls I fill a lack of soul in these communities. Why do we need to have new things all the time? in 30 years will these communities be revered like the old buildings of my hometown? why does every city need to have a planet hollywood and a niketown? is urban renawal only possible by bringing in these corporate giants that make everytown look like anytown USA? These are questions that I hope people might ask themselves when they view the food for thought that are your pictures. thank you

It's easy to spot someone from the Detroit area. There's just something about that person that screams: "This is MY city." Even those of us who no longer live in Detroit are still Detroiters in out hearts. It's just something that never goes away.

 Your website was like a treasure find for me and my family. So much of what you have shown produces memories rushing back into our hearts and minds. Your shots of the Packard Plant are absolutely astounding. I can't wait to share this site in all it's glory with the rest of my family. I'll also be sure to try and find the help you need to keep this site alive!!!!

Best regards, K. Dromowicz

Thank you for your magnificent work!

This almost made me cry as I was raised in Windsor in the fifties and took music lessons in the DIA area,hung out at the fabulous library as an adolescent and got Vernor's and a hot dog at the plant down the street.

Many a time I would sneak out of our house in Riverside, cycle through the tunnel and watch news and travel films at the Globe on Woodward.

I do find a special beauty in the not yet and ruined state of civilization as in the skeletal exposed.

Real Surreal!

Richard Armin

A marvelous site, one of the few I've come across that wields the power of the Web with grace and purpose.

Pete Larson

Hey buddy, there [sic] buildings!! Get a grip, and then get a life. I think the City of Detroit should be a lot more concerned about more important things other than your precious buildings!!  Anonymous

Typical Yankee artist crap!! There are a lot of things in the world that should not be saved. It seems to me your just playing on peoples emotions hoping to make a few bucks!! What ever floats your boat, but I'm not buying it!!

I loved your very moving tour of an American Dream turned nightmare. This is the kind of thing I've always hoped the net would bring: personal visions with worldwide reach.

I look forward to your next oeuvre.

Jeff Hurn Menlo Park Calif

I found your Web-site through Yahoo's picks of the week. Expecting a humorous cynical collection of broken windows, winos and Devil's Night fires, I found instead an evocative collage from an individual who obviously cares about Detroit and its vanishing treasures.

When I bought my first car in the early 80's my then-girlfriend and I enjoyed taking road trips from Ann Arbor: "Does Michigan Avenue really go all the way through? Where does 8-mile end?". We enjoyed the scenes of industrial decay we drove past, reminiscent of dinosaur-bones, decay, and a vicarious thrill of danger; a glimpse of anarchy thorugh neglect.

Seeing your images of some of the great treasures being lost (and, admittedly, some restored) rekindled those memories, but this time with a poignant sympathy for the concern of a Detroit resident who deeply loved the city that I saw back then from the roadside ... a resident whose love and knowlege of art & architecture is apparent and refreshing.

Thank you so much for a very pleasant surprise.

David Lehman

As a fan of (virtually) all things urban, a lover of architectural history, and lastly a Yankee fan, I find your sight a wonderful combination of uplifting devotion to one's home town, the sadness that fills my heart as a result of urban flight and the resulting decay, and the rage that arises from obscenely wealthy individuals ignoring heritage and the opinions of fans regarding their places of worship.

Your eloquent and impassioned prose made me feel a sense of loss for places never visited, and nostalgia for places visited and now lost.

I hope your site makes a difference.

Sincerely, Aubrey Dirkes

I don't know whether to thank you or curse you...... The tour through the ruins of Detroit brought a tear to my eye, as I recalled the good times that I had and the beautiful things that could be seen in Detroit as I grew up. I left 24 years ago, and do come to visit every few years (Detroit will always be my home).

Phil

Your site blew me away!

Though we all see gradual changes on a wide scale everyday, and sometimes radical changes on a small scale, we very rarely, if ever, see radical changes over a whole slice of territory at once. I know, I am a professional archaeologist. This is the first time I have seen an archaeological site in the making on such a large scale. It's liking visiting an abandoned Roman city, say Volubilis in Morocco, where all the transformations are taking place at once. It is really transfixing to come across your site.

And it is so beautiful, with such an eye to architectural importance as it is perceived in the landscape, not as it is taught by an art historian!

But my God is it sad. A snapshot of the essential vacuity of contemporary North American commercial culture. How can such a powerful nation throw all of this away with such little regard. Quite by coincidence, I heard an interview on the radio a couple of weeks ago on the demolition of the Hudson Block, so I was doubly fascinated to see that someone had taken the time, the effort and the eye to chronicle the apparently wholesale destruction of the city center. I can't help but feel that the USA, and all the rest of us, are in for trouble for as long as we haven't found a way to control such callous waste of our cities.

I'll be back to see your site.

William Moss Québec City Canada

I want to thank you for the contribution you made/make to the writing of the history of Detroit. Your website really represents why the Internet has dramatically changed most everyone it has ever touched. Your thoughtful commentary, the warmth and respect you show for your subject are all marvelous.

This site is so great - it sends chills down my back. Thank you very much May you get as much joy from growing the site as you have given so many others by creating it!. A.H. Krum

Your web site is wonderful. I have seldom, if ever, spent the time to page through as long and detailed a site--but the artistry with which you've assembled the haunting images continued to beckon me through the entire downtown Detroit series, detours and all. Are you planning to publish a conventional book using these materials? As a one-time editor, I could cavil about some textual matters (e.g., "barbed wire" instead of "barb wire"), and there are a few typos here and there; but they are minor, mechanical considerations. It's clear the site is a labor of love and a work of art in and of itself. Moreover, it appears to me to be undergirded by a strong moral concern about the way in which we do the business of creating and maintaing cities. Lansing differs from Detroit only in scale: open space and classic structures continue to disappear under the concrete of speculative building and the encouragement of short-term tax advantage. One hopes that sites like yours can help awaken and nurture longer, wider visions. Thanks, Mike

Lowell, I have been viewing your site for some time now. It seems that I am quite drawn to it, and its wonderful images. My interest lies in the area of community planning and the detrimental effects of urban sprawl. I am from the Detroit area, and would like nothing better than to see the city be vibrant and full once again. It is to this end that I write. Your art (as I perceive it) has a message. Your message is not lost to a growing number of people, who are working hard to see that these wonderful old buildings are not lost to the faceless glass structures of the late 20th century, as other communities have seen. Perhaps it is in the spirit of the ever-evolving website you have created to allow some space for people, developers, and potential investors to seek out information on how to help, or how to contact the sellers of some of these buildings. Perhaps you would feel that it is not in the spirit of the art to somewhat "commercialize" a small portion of the site. But I believe you know as well as I do what will save these buildings--people who care what happens to them and money. Some will always say "tear them all down, they're junk", but if you can make people see that this could be a truly wonderful city, with some of the best architecture and character in the country, if not in the world: this would truly be art.

Jason C. Pasko Monroe, Michigan

HUDSON'S

The implosion was today
My Husband and I said goodbye to Hudson's
As we drove across the Ambassador Bridge
On our way to Frankenmuth
As we drove up I-75
We reminisced about Hudson's
At the moment of implosion
We were on the covered bridge in Frankenmuth
When we arrived back in Detroit about 8p.m.
We could still see the dust
But our memories will always be clear.

Born and raised in Tokyo.
I'm a writer of urban culture.
Shocked to see your site. 
But I think my city is also in the same course. 
City as ruins are still beautiful. 
I love your photos and painting. 
Thank you so much.

Koichi.

I found the tour very interesting. I would not have thought of these structures in the same way as the remnants of ancient Rome or Athens but now see a closer parallel. I believe that we are currently building a whole new generation of buildings in this country at the present time in every state of the union that will be, in future times, regarded as ruins in the same way that you have described the building on this tour. These are the "Pole Buildings" of modern companies. They consist of a concrete slab with aluminum siding on top of that. Vast buildings can be erected in a day and at a cost that any company can afford. Trouble is, that they look like hell and in twenty years these buildings will be falling down. What will we do when the time runs out on all these structures in so short a time? We will be stuck with millions of these useless eyesores because the owners in the here and now wanted to make a quick profit without regard to the future. In my opinion this is sad.

Anthony Johnson

I just finished the "Detroit" tour. As artist and former Detroit I appreciate and applaud the stark and loving view you have shared. On a day when I have 10 million things to do I found myself riveted to your site. I have lived in nearly all of the places you have photographed and painted. I too share your bittersweet portrayal of a city mired in tunnel vision, and a "sense of immediacy" that has allowed it to decline without looking back. Your site has left me with a sense of somber gratitude for your spectacular vision of a city which may or may not recover, but will always be home. Thank you so much for sharing. Sincerely, Sue Schmittroth

the guilt and shame should pierce through, definitely. it was very hard for me not to cry; particularly through the train station photos. then again, i'm a huge preservationist at heart, and not hte slightest bit into urban economically-motivated redevelopment. i kinda wish some of the photos were bigger though. the dramatic vaulting in the station is so rare to see these days. there is a train station in san jose or salinas that is from the 30's, which has a similar vaulting motif. it was just restored, and is quite breathtaking.

the roman/athenian references i don't take to be tongue and cheek at all; they're so real. it took thousands of years for the ruins of greece and rome to fall to where they are now, and less than a decade for some of these ruins in detroit to fall to where they're at; that to me is the best "fuck you" declaration against capitalist-inspired urban sprawl (uh... and some mismanagement by coleman young.)

the fourum you've set up is really quite fabulous. i encourage you to push the museum-esque ruins motif harder.

the "grave-robbers" bits you put in are good notes too. a reference used most dominantly to describe vandals robbing egyptian pyramids, appropriated to reference drunks and hoods ripping off early twentieth century and late ninteenth century tracery and woodwork. quite brilliant.

:) nina

I have come to this site many times over the past 6 months or so since I first found it, telling friends about it, crying and awestruck while going thru every photo, reading every word. I just wanted to let you know that not only do I think it's a great site from a web stand point (great colors, high res/quick loading photos), but you have moved me and taught me so much about a place I have only just begun to understand. I moved to Michigan in 1986 to go to UM from Cleveland, another spoke on the rust belt, and felt at home. Well, at least the city scape was familar to me. Then, as I went further into Detroit, I was often struck speechless, amazed by the hulking shells, both architectural and anthropological. I am currently living in Brooklyn, although my plan is to return Michigan in February (what a time to return to Michigan, eh?). The adjustment to NYC has taken something out of me, but as we move into Fall, I look forward to exploring THIS city's relics.

Just wanted to thank you. Juen Cybergrrl

Being noisy on the 'net one mourning I found my childhood detailed on the screen. I had forgotten that a part of me always were proud to say I am from Detroit, It was easy, you marry, have kids a life but, their is a part of you (a rowdy part of you) that wants what he saw as a kid on a saturday mourning with his mother downtown that he knows his children will never see, the details of a city your wife will never understand because her view comes from a memory that fades from sadness. But there It was, just like I said It was, all laid out very well. I took my wife on a tour of me, the true me. There was a gladness of showing her that despite It's faults this is my home, this site brought back scenes of heartbreak and triumph.You did a damn good job.

Michael Reid
Evansville, Indiana

What an absolute fabulous series of pictures of Detroit you are showing us. You show us the city like it is a part of nature, with its own seasons. Fall and winter have almost gone by, and while it is still freezing here and there, the first signs of spring are visible.  A lot of people like nature's seasons but might not like the different periods in human environment, but I think your work is absolutely wonderful. It also gives you a sense of melancholy. I don"t know why exactly, but it is perhaps a feeling of things of the past that never come back, together with the feeling that it is supposed to be that   way, so it's alright.

Ellen Hoogakker
Amsterdam, Netherlands

I'm 23 short years old.

     Younger by far than any of the buildings you picture on your site, and even too young to remember the most of them being open, and available to the public. Having lived in the Detroit area, if not right on the border of the suburbs, and spending a great amount of time in the decaying downtown area, even in the short time I've been around I can see the decay continuing in most areas, and some renewal and restoration, but most of what I have seen is new people coming in and wanting to just start clean.

     It depresses me.

     As I clicked through your site many of the buildings were very familiar to me, and I could nearly pick out street names from memory. It's taken me back to some of the places that I haven't been in years, and places that I drove by just the other day, but your photos have such a strong presence, image, each one took on new meaning.

     I believe that people need to learn from the past... take these buildings that have been sitting vacant, stagnant for many years, but have still survived and embrace them... they have to potential to serve and inspire for many more years, if only allowed the chance. We work and live in glass towers, cookie cut houses, soulless cubicle expanses, becoming depressed drones, we need to find a sense honor once more, permanence, and continuity.

     Thank you, you have made a strong statement not only about Detroit, but the current blind flailing of the United States...

Derrick Karteczka
Metro Detroit

Congratulations on a fine achievement. Your website held my attention for several hours today.

     I know nothing about architecture or art theories, but it does seem to me that there is something beautiful about urban decay. Maybe "beautiful" isn't quite the right word - I don't even have the necessary vocabulary to talk about these things. All I know is that I like looking at burnt-out buildings. They're just so much more interesting than the smooth chrome and glass constructions popping up all over cities like my hometown Toronto. Then again, I'm not sure that decay is quite so enjoyable for the people who have to live in those buildings.

Stephen Lee
Toronto, ON, Canada

     I came upon your site tonight while I was searching for information about Detroit architecture, and I was moved beyond words. I recently returned to Michigan after a thirty year absence, and I was enthralled by the terrible beauty of Detroit's decline, yet I was hopeful as I saw sure signs of revival and hope. Detroit is a complicated and brilliant town, and I plan perhaps to come back permanently some day soon, and your site was inspirational in that regard.

Ted Burke
California, USA

     I stumbled onto your site and could not not finish -- and I took it slow. Genuinely haunting. I grew up around Livernois & 7 Mile (now live in California) but I have always been powerfully drawn to Detroit's sadly peculiar architectural mummification. It holds a great sense of loss and another time long ago that is both melancholy and gripping -- to me, anyways. I felt a kindred spirit in your absolutely wondrous web site. Truly magnificent. Moreover, a great preservation piece in itself!

Alan Shapiro
California, USA

     We were highly impressed by your raw presentation of urban decay. Each photo told their own story and your comments provided a much needed historical analysis. It was refreshing to see the other side of "urban renewal". Your insightfulness and artistic creativity in juxtaposing two realities is to be commended. As two seminary students preparing to be urban pastors and community organizers, we think everyone needs to experience this harsh reality. It seems from this presentation that you have dedicated a large amount of time and gathered a wealth of information. We are interested in your photos and would like to obtain prints. Is this possible? We are eager to hear from you and would like to know more about your involvement with urban art and issues. Thank you for offering this website.

Troy Jacobson and Kirstin Tannas
Chicago, Illinois

     A former Detroiter, and fan of archaeological ruins, I'm just bowled over by your photo essay (which I learned about from the NY Times website). It truly gives new meaning to that 19th century bourgeois notion of the "Grand Tour" that all cultured Europeans are supposed to make of the Greco-Roman world.

     I'd say that all cultured Americans ought to take your guided tour, virtually if they can't in the flesh, because it highlights what is to emblematic of our throwaway culture. I'd guess that the 20-something computer millionaires of contemporary Silicon Valley can't imagine that the world *they* are creating may well turn to rusting office buildings (without even the grandeur of Detroit's hulking factories) in 40 or 50 years.

     For me personally, the photos of greatest pathos were of the Michigan Central Railroad Station, from which I boarded a train to New York's Grand Central Terminal in December 1980 (eerily, the same day that John Lennon was shot). I've often thought that Detroit made a Faustian bargain with the automobile. Not the "one horse town" argument one often hears for why it's suffering, but the fact there's no public mass transit worthy of the name. All great world cities (NY, Paris, London, Tokyo, etc. etc.) have excellent subway systems -- something that the power structure in Detroit never had the vision to push through when Detroit was flush with cash. The fact that you must rely on a car to get to/from downtown makes a huge difference in the quality of life. I've lived in Manhattan for over 17 years and can't imagine life now without fast, convenient, cheap public transportation.

Jeremy Barth
New York, NY

     The WebSite dedicated to the ruins that were once a striving and influential city are heartfelt and moving. As a resident of Detroit's suburbs for the past 26 years, I am touched by your obvious love for this powerfully beautiful city. You're "tour" showed me a side of Detroit that I didn't realize existed ( Bush Park ) and brought me back to a place where many of my early memories took place The Michigan Central Railroad Building was a backdrop on many exited trips "downtown" as a child

     I was a youngster when Detroit fell from grace and I was never able to relish in its glory at the time that it thrived. I thank you for bringing me "back" to the splendor that was, while also giving me hope for what it can be again.

     Bravo!  I spend a fair amount of time surfing the net and I think this is one of the best sites I have ever seen. Truly they don't build cities like this anymore! It is truly heart wrenching to see the decline of the once mighty city of Detroit. I know that there are nearly insurmountable obstacles to preventing this kind of loss but I grieve nonetheless. These same kinds of losses are occurring all over the US urban landscape, including the city I most recently moved from: Rochester, NY. Perhaps it is the moving after all and lack of permanence of our current urban economies and existences that leads to this. Alternatively, we can look on it as you seem to have in some way, namely the natural progression of time and change and the inexorable movement toward ruination, much like Efes. Thanks for a wonderful visual/historic experience.

     I just finished visiting your Web site. I came away in such a somber mood. Sadness mostly. I have lived in the Detroit area all my life. My parents worked and met at the old Packard plant during the war. They first lived on E. Grand Blvd. not far from Belle Isle, where they courted. They then bought and moved into an apartment building in Highland Park. I was born during that time. When I was 3 years old, we bought a home (two family flat) in Highland Park, where I lived until my early 20's about 1971/72. The city took our home - eminent domain they call it. I have so many fond memories of Detroit and how it use to be. Shopping at Hudson's downtown was a highlight throughout my childhood and early teens. I now live in the suburbs. Thank you for the tour. I feel like crying.

     Thanks for including some positive things in the tour. The first part of the tour is almost overwhelmingly sad. Preservation victories in this city often seem small, but we do have them. They are also the most touted attractions in the city. Preservation pays.

     Thanks for caring enough about what we have lost and are losing to put up this Web site.

     I just found your Fabulous Ruins of Detroit Tour. It is certainly a bittersweet tribute to our great city. I am completely fascinated by the industrial ruins that you photographed. I often drive through these areas just to look at the ruins and imagine both the history and potential that some of these buildings possess.

     But what can we do? I am not convinced that Stadiums and casinos will revive the city. In my opinion, the General Motors move is the most significant announcement in recent Detroit history. Detroit is an industrial town. We need to encourage industry to reclaim the industrial buildings in order to reinvigorate the area.

     For many people the ruins are hard to understand until you give it a historical perspective. The city has grown much to fast for it's own good and the automobile has poisoned urban culture. There are more reasons/excuses - the global economy (many manufacturing jobs left this North American city), racism (the riots sent white people and investment fleeing), and the desire to live on the edge (live where you can experience a pseudo rural existence and drive to your livelihood).

     A friend who still lives in the area sent me the link, and I can't believe how I was affected by the sights there. It was like a family reunion at the cemetery. I have to say that I appreciate all of the work you have done. And congratulations on a job well done. Keep up the good work.

     I discovered your web site in today's NY Times. It is one of the very best I have seen. I lived in Detroit as a young child, but do not remember much. I do remember going to Hudson's often in the 1950s, however. It is such a shame that we Americans go through houses, stores, neighborhoods and even cities as if they were tissue paper. I live now in New England, where people sometimes have more respect for the past, but even here much has been allowed to wear out and be thrown away. Thank you for documenting what has been done to Detroit. I hope the new developments in the city will last longer and be treated with more respect than the sites you have so brilliantly documented.

     Thank you for a marvelous site. Having grown up in Detroit, these pictures have special meaning to me also. The pix of the Michigan Central breaks my heart, to see it in such ruin. My father worked for New York Central and I spent a lot of time as a toddler and small child there. It was always so massive and worldly. I made sure to sit in every seat in the terminal.

     Your site is incredible. I have lived in Detroit all my life, and I have seen all this happening. I drive around esp. the east side, and it looks like wartime Europe to me. The waste of solid buildings is incredible -- the abandonment of an entire city -- the loss of beautiful and useful buildings -- it breaks my heart. I think of what people in other countries would do here -- fix it up, use it, enjoy it. Now starving dogs and homeless vacant souls wander the streets, filled with potholes, surrounded by weed fields -- it is a disgrace.

     I haven't been all the way through your site yet -- it is too massive, but I want to tell you now how blown away I am by this. It seems you have made it your life to be there when the city falls down -- like a doctor in the plague years in Europe. How do you stand it?


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