A Guide to Post-Industrial Detroit: Unconventional Tours of an Urban Landscape

Theresa Welsh
David Welsh(写真)

内容The city of Detroit, Michigan has become a mecca for “urban explorers,” people who like to roam around the ruins of formerly occupied urban areas. Motivations vary: curiosity; desire to photograph urban decay; for graffiti artists, an ideal environment for their art; and, for vandals, lots of buildings to strip of their metals and anything of value.

This book, with 198 photographs, is about exploring Detroit, its natural assets and beautiful architecture and its abandoned neighborhoods. The author takes you inside the graffiti-filled walls of abandoned factories and empty homes, with directions for readers who might want to do some urban exploring.

Detroit’s abandoned neighborhood problem is compounded by the fact that it is a physically large city, covering 143 square miles. Whole sections are now unoccupied, just vacant fields and rotting buildings, sidewalks and streets cracked and filled with weeds, trash and old tires that seem to be dumped everywhere. Over the last 50 years, the city has lost most of its industrial base, and with it the good jobs that Detroiters once enjoyed. When the jobs leave, so do the people.

Loss of jobs and a poor economy is one explanation for abandonment, but the situation is more complicated. Once a prosperous city and home to the American auto industry, Detroit began to decline in the 1960s. The city's majority population was shifting from white to black. African-American residents, who had been "urban-renewed" out of their East Side neighborhoods into an overcrowded West Side area, felt they were targeted by the mostly white police department. In 1967 a riot broke out, sparked by a police raid on an illegal after-hours saloon. The city never really recovered from the week-long devastation of looting and burning that followed.

Detroit Is one of America’s oldest cities, founded in 1701 by French explorers. Its population peaked in the 1950s, following waves of immigrants from Europe and migrations of people from the South. Over decades of growth and prosperity, the city became home to magnificent buildings, splendid churches, and massive factories. Woodward Avenue, the main street in Detroit, is so full of beautiful, historic and architecturally significant buildings that it is the ONLY urban highway in the US to be officially designated a “Scenic Byway.”

Detroit is unique in both its store of beautiful buildings (whether still in use or abandoned) and the extent of its population loss. While it offers visitors wonderful tourist-type attractions, it offers the more adventurous visitor a chance to see an incredible phenomenon, urban abandonment and decay. Observe, explore and photograph old buildings, empty storefronts, commercial buildings, and abandoned schools. Tour streets of abandoned houses, see relics of the auto industry, including the 3.5 million square foot complex of empty buildings that was the Packard Motor Car Company, decaying since the company went out of business in 1956.

The author's interest in Detroit and its history is personal. She came to Detroit in 1964 to attend Wayne State University where she met her husband, David. In 1967, they were newly-weds living in the heart of the riot area. They experienced first-hand a city in chaos, with fires burning in all directions. Retired now, Theresa and David have been going back to places where they lived and worked in the city to photograph and observe. Fascinated by the extent of the emptiness and devastation, they found themselves gradually joining the odd fraternity of urban explorers.

Theresa Welsh is a professional writer, author and photographer. She shares her observations and a selection of the thousands of photos she and David (a professional photographer) have taken in the city. The book is divided into “tours” you can take (or just follow online on Google), if you want to experience the “real Detroit.”

出版The Seeker Books


  • A Guide to Post-Industrial Detroit: Unconventional Tours of an Urban Landscape (English Edition)