Loss, Made Concrete, in Concrete


Here's a link I found way back in July or August on a friend's Facebook page. I saved it to blog about and look how long it has taken me... It seems appropriate to post the link after yesterday's entry on loss, since these images of the Ruin of Detroit all depict great loss. They are gorgeous photographs of tragic and appalling ugliness and waste. I personally HATE tragic and appalling ugliness and waste--I mean, it really, really upsets me.

I have never been anywhere in Detroit except the airport, but I flew in and out of it enough times to thoroughly assimilate the fact that "Detroit is in the eastern time zone" (I could even understand the Chinese version of that announcement) and so developed an affection for the city. Plus it's my friend Jim's hometown. Plus, it became the Motor City only because my old home of Erie turned down Henry Ford's request to build an automobile factory there.

See, Henry Ford wanted to build his factory in a port city very close to the ports of Buffalo and the steel mills of Pittsburgh. And there happens to be a port city almost midway between Buffalo and Pittsburgh, which is--that's right--Erie.

But Erie city fathers told Mr. Ford, no, we don't want your nasty factory. Take it some place else. So he went to the port city on the other side of Lake Erie, which was Detroit.

Erie is solidly in the rust belt and has plenty of urban decay, but it's nothing like Detroit. So perhaps the decision of Erie's city fathers, which seemed very foolish long about 1950, was actually wise in the long run.


I feel a personal connection to Detroit because my father's side of the family all came from Michigan, so Detroit into my late childhood was a sort of metaphor for the sophistication and excitement of the Big City. Such waste. Here's something similar to Marchand and Meffre's work.

Hi Kuri--thanks for the link. Those "feral houses" are truly remarkable--and sad. All I saw of such things until I moved to the northeast was the occasional derelict barn, but they're never covered in vegetation like that.

The Erie paper had a regular column about abandoned houses and derelict properties, listing who owned the property and what needed to be done to clean it up. Some of them, all anyone could recommend was tearing the structure down and leaving a vacant lot.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on December 7, 2009 9:01 PM.

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