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Jalopnik: The Feral Factories Of Detroit [Carpocalypse]

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Decades of corporate mismanagement, incompetent government policies, shortsighted agendas and misplaced ego caused the decline of Detroit's, and therefore America's, automotive industrial might. Mother nature doesn't care for such trivialities. She's been busy taking back what's hers. Gallery below.

Ailanthus altissima, the tree of heaven, the stink tree, better known around these parts as the ghetto palm. It's a common sight amidst the wreckage of this city. Detroit is certainly no stranger to tough times, after a meteoric ascension as a center of power and prosperity in the first half of the 20th century, including the post-war boom after serving as the "Arsenal of Democracy," it's been mostly downhill since.

Before our latest bout of national economic diarrhea, Detroit was busy pulling itself up by the bootstraps, rebuilding the downtown city center. Employment was rising and even property values were increasing. Then the bottom fell out. The economy went to crap, the assumed corruption of our politicians was confirmed in the most embarrassing way possible and the once-humming factories halted because people stopped buying cars.

This has happened before, and it took the same toll then as today. The factories and skyscrapers, office buildings and industry went silent then too, but many never restarted, and as a result, Mother Nature is slowly reclaiming parts of Detroit.

It's insidious, slow, unnoticed, but over time, the grasses grow tall, weeds fill in the cracks of once pristine and well-worn sidewalks, loading bays flood and become urban wetlands. Ailanthus altissima gains a foothold and spreads like wild fire. Soon, roofs collapse, foundations are compromised, and nature returns that which men built out of raw ambition back to its origins. It's happening today, and nobody seems to notice. Hit next to witness the astonishing power of nature to quickly return man-made structures to whence they came.

Editor's Note: Ben took the photos but hasn't yet had a chance to identify the buildings. Anyone wanting to help in that process, leave IDs matched to photo numbers in the comments below and we'll add them in.

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504x_Detroit_Forest_8.JPGObviously, this is the spread of the much hated "city garden," a slang term for random overgrowth. Since popular wisdom holds that its impossible for Detroit to be a pleasant place to live, this must be some type of obvious rot where crack heads hide and gang members hang out late at night.
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Okay, I'll admit my ignorance on the subject, but why in the world is Detroit not the capitol of scrap businesses? Look at the tons of brick that could be removed , sold off, and reused in new construction? Look at all of the steel just rotting away. I'm sure there has to be some brass and copper left in those buildings (where looters couldn't get to it). In this day & age when new start-up companies are prevalent and entrepreneurship is encouraged by our government, why are scrapping companies not being formed and then lining up to reap the benefits of Detroits ruins?

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Okay, I'll admit my ignorance on the subject, but why in the world is Detroit not the capitol of scrap businesses? Look at the tons of brick that could be removed , sold off, and reused in new construction? Look at all of the steel just rotting away. I'm sure there has to be some brass and copper left in those buildings (where looters couldn't get to it). In this day & age when new start-up companies are prevalent and entrepreneurship is encouraged by our government, why are scrapping companies not being formed and then lining up to reap the benefits of Detroits ruins?

Used brick, some might even fancy the pedigree of those you've mentioned, are a relatively obscure but profitable market. As a kid I spent some hours knocking dried mortar from countless examples & sorting/stacking 'em. Today I could ride for miles and spot the bricks which we salvaged then used and are still adorning someone's chimney, home, kneewall, sidewalk. (we used 'em as pavers too; the denser ones)

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The only way to make decent money is to be paid to tear down/haul off the material, and THEN resell it later. Stripping one commodity from rubble (such as copper) takes a lot of time; fine if you ahve nothing else to do and are motivated, but for companies w/ equipment- it's cheaper to stay home.

This brushes aside getting permission from the owners and permits from the city.

That 3rd pic from the bottom looks familiar- it may be the Hudson factory. Then again, in a pictorial of car factories, there's pics of car washes. :rolleyes:

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Whatever became of the massive former GM hq building? The 3rd pic from the top resembles it, but I don't think that's it..

Rob

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Further examining photos taken of Detroit, it only becomes even more disheartening and horrible to see a once mighty, industrial city reduced to this.

Even more frightening is that, if America doesn't try to reclaim some of its long-lost industrial might, the rest of country could start looking like this, as what few factories are left are shut down and the jobs outsourced to China.

Just compare this building in Detroit to this apartment building from Pripyat, Ukraine. The more I see of Detroit, the more I am reminded of Pripyat's current state after the Chernobyl tragedy. Pripyat is a ghost town now. It looks as if Detriot isn't too far behind from being branded as a ghost town itself.

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Pripyat has an excuse, however. Detroit doesn't. The city can only blame the carelessness and apathy of our government.

Edited by YellowJacket894
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Very similar..and the factory in Detroit looks like it has graffiti in Russian (Izlyazebo koh!).

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>>"Whatever became of the massive former GM hq building? The 3rd pic from the top resembles it, but I don't think that's it.."<<

Reminded me, too- but the GM headquarters building had 4 'arms' whereas this one has 2.

I read it was converted to office use after GM sold it, but that was how many years ago ??

I'd also like to know if anyone kept the 'GENERAL MOTORS" neon letters from the rooftop...

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Very similar..and the factory in Detroit looks like it has graffiti in Russian (Izlyazebo koh!).

I was wondering if someone else would notice that. I actually started to post a picture of the Hotel Polissya from Pripyat because the "Russian" graffiti on top of the Detroit building made me immediately think of it.

chernobyl_pripyat_hotel_polissya_2.jpg

I guess Pripyat and Detriot are similar in that, at a happier time in life, they both were standing monuments to their respective country's progression and might.

But now ...

Edited by YellowJacket894
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>>"Whatever became of the massive former GM hq building? The 3rd pic from the top resembles it, but I don't think that's it.."<<

Reminded me, too- but the GM headquarters building had 4 'arms' whereas this one has 2.

I read it was converted to office use after GM sold it, but that was how many years ago ??

I'd also like to know if anyone kept the 'GENERAL MOTORS" neon letters from the rooftop...

I googled it.. the building is now Cadillac Place. Houses over 2000 state employees.

Cadillac Place

IIRC, I saw it in person a couple times as I drove by when I visited Detroit when I was living in Ann Arbor..still had the GM sign then.

Rob

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Cool that it was restored... AND it's a Kahn design.

I used to look at those red neon letters out the 10th floor window of my apartment. Had/s a beautiful lobby, too, so orante & old world.

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Used brick, some might even fancy the pedigree of those you've mentioned, are a relatively obscure but profitable market. As a kid I spent some hours knocking dried mortar from countless examples & sorting/stacking 'em. Today I could ride for miles and spot the bricks which we salvaged then used and are still adorning someone's chimney, home, kneewall, sidewalk. (we used 'em as pavers too; the denser ones)

A buddy of mine gathered a lot of used brick to build a pub in his basement...brick floor also. Very nice. I'd like to do a basement wall or two with older bricks, or maybe rough-hewn stones.

Rob

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Those photos remind me of the History channel's show about if all humans were the vanish from earth.

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The biggest issue is Asbestos. all valuable metals are gone steel is garbage on the market right now. plus these lots aren't free. besides when your done for the day all your equipment will be stolen even if you have security.

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