I’m sure that we have all heard on the news that Detroit has gone from the wealthiest city in the United State in the 1960’s to being officially Bankrupt in 2013. It is a terrible state of affairs that a whole city and it’s inhabitants should be in such dire straits, and it is more than likely yet another example (although an extreme one) of political laziness and corruption.
One of the inevitable casualties of this situation is the city’s historic buildings. Without the necessary money to maintain and/or restore them they are falling into disrepair and dereliction. Many cities and towns will have a least one building of historical interest and many have had great buildings bulldozed over the years – usually in the name of progress, but actually due to a simple lack of imagination. If an interesting building has to be demolished it should at least be photographed extensively before it is lost forever.
Philip Jarmain, a Canadian photographer, has visited Detroit and managed to take a series of beautiful but elegiac photographs of the city’s decaying elegance (some of which are included below). I came across the pictures on the Designboom website, but it is interesting to note that the article has received a comment which completely alters your initial perception of the city. The decay and dereliction presented by both the photographs and the associated article is not necessarily the truth of the situation and proves that although ‘a camera cannot lie’, it cannot tell the whole truth either. The comment reads thus:-
These photos aren’t entirely accurate. It should be noted that the Book-Cadillac Hotel underwent a $150,000,000 restoration and reopened as the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in 2009. It’s no longer “decayed” as the photographer implies.
Here is the website: http://www.bookcadillacwestin.com
Also, the Whitney building is the David Whitney Building (not to be confused with the Whitney historic mansion/restaurant 2 miles north). The David Whitney building is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation into an Aloft Hotel (parent company is Starwood Hotels).
Downtown Detroit is slowly experiencing a renaissance and that should be shown along with the blight / ruin porn that many seem to enjoy. James Dawson, sept 10 2013.
Westward Presbyterian Church (1908), photo by Philip Jarmain
Eastown Theatre (1930), photo by Philip Jarmain
Highland Park Police Station (1917-2011), photo by Philip Jarmain
Fisher Body Plant No. 21 (1919), photo by Philip Jarmain
David Whitney Building (1915), photo by Philip Jarmain
Book-Cadilac Hotel (1924), photo by Philip Jarmain