Only in Detroit

One of my favorite features to tell people about Detroit is how many abandoned houses there are.

For those not from the Windsor/Detroit area, the Metro Times is the local weekly like Now or Eye are to Toronto, or the Stranger is to Seattle. They used to run a weekly column called the Abandoned Shelter of the Week which is where I grabbed all these photos from.

A search on the Metro Times website brings up 161 stories from the archives.

I liked the matter-of-fact tone they were always written in, like this one:

This week’s abandoned house once had an address, we assume, but no longer has one. It’s located on East Vernor; its photo was sent to us by Tom Lonergan, who informed us: “Last September, as I was driving my son Vince to school, I told him, ‘I bet that house is still there in April, no matter who is mayor.’ Well, April will be here quicker than you can say baseball and the charred remains of this once-solid structure will no doubt still dot the landscape.”

When I was at University of Windsor, our class once made a trip to our professors house for him to show us his art collection. He lived in a 4 story Victorian house in a residential area of downtown Detroit. His collection was insane and the house was so nice inside, but his was the only house on the block that wasn’t burnt out or abandoned. He bought it for $30,000, from some old lady who used to be a janitor at GM.

He told us Detroit had the 3rd highest number of Art Deco buildings in the US, behind NYC and Chicago. In the early 1900’s Detroit was changing the world. The car was invented in Detroit, and workers at Ford’s factories were making bank, which from what I understand contributed to the creation of a middle class. It’s crazy that 100 years later Detroit is such a giant shithole.

I haven’t been around Detroit much for the past 4 years though. Does anyone know if it’s getting any better?

A great book that weaves a fictional story around Detroit’s history is Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides. He’s the guy who wrote the Virgin Suicides.

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