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Tag Archives: Detroit

‘The Ruins of Detroit’ by Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

We are aware, because of the popularity of our posts on the subject, that many people are entranced by buildings slowly falling into decrepitude. We have featured a number over the recent months, the first nearly a year ago was Forgotten Detroit – 100 Abandoned Houses then more recently we came across the Urbex groupings, people who seek out such locations to photograph, Urbex (urban explorers with cameras) and Urbex – Talkurbex. Now there is another chance to see such fascinating images at an exhibition in London from the 24th February.

An exhibition at Wilmotte Gallery at Lichfield Studios: 133 OXFORD GARDENS, LONDON W10 6NE 24th February – 5th April

Full details from this web site

“Ruins are the visible symbols and landmarks of our societies and their changes, small pieces of history in suspension.” Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre Tristan Hoare and Julien Dobbs-Higginson are pleased to present a selection of photographs from the much acclaimed body of work The Ruins of Detroit (published: Steidl, 2010). Photographs from this series have previously been exhibited in Ville Fertile, Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine, Paris and Metropolis, Noorderlicht Photofestival, Groningen. They will be shown in the UK for the first time. The Ruins of Detroit is a five year collaboration between French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre. Together they have documented Detroit’s abandoned buildings, thus bringing to light the current state of ‘Motor City’ through a cinematic series of starkly beautiful photographs. Shooting with a large format, custom made camera, taking advantage of natural light and using long exposures, the images embody the unique atmosphere of each location. Marchand and Meffre’s work retains a formal quality and is conceived as a document, giving the viewer a surreal glimpse of Detroit’s former glory. Like the great civilizations of the past, we interpret them through their remains. Once one of the wealthiest cities in the world, Detroit produced the single most important consumer product of the modern age; the automobile. At its peak, it was the world capital of car production and home to two million people. One factory, The Ford River Rouge Plant, employed more than 90,000 workers and its assembly line extended for almost a mile. This monumental success attracted the great architects of the period and the eclecticism of the city’s building programme reflected every fashion of the day. Yet the American dream soon turned into a nightmare. The 1950s saw machines replace workers and, in the following decades, hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost as the international car market changed beyond recognition and foreign car manufacturers successfully competed for their share of the US market. The images bring to mind a Biblical disaster; it is as if all Detroit’s citizens had fled. The abandoned factories and buildings, vacant schools and derelict ballrooms, to name but a few, are a poignant reminder of the fragility of the modern world and, possibly on a different scale, of a now ‘broken America’. These beautiful, but disturbing, images look un-compromisingly at the remains of the once-astonishing Detroit, as a then global center of capitalism and its following, even more extraordinary, descent into ruin. One is reminded of Detroit’s prophetic motto: Speramus meliora, resurget cineribus (“We hope for better things, which shall rise from the ashes”)

Captured: The 85th Anniversary of U.S. Route 66

Here is another excellent set of images from the Denver Post pblog series. This is a celebration of Route 66 and if like me you are drawn to the music of popular culture the name of this road is quintessential rock and roll. “”(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66“, often rendered simply as “Route 66“, is a popular song and rhythm and blues standard, composed in 1946 by American songwriter Bobby Troup.”

I must say though for me my interest in pop music is always about the future rather than the past and as such I devour the music blogs that bring me new sounds, my favourite is The Recommender based in Brighton but finding music from all over the world. On Friday based on The Recommender I went to see The Braids supporting Wild Beasts at a venue just across the road from my studio. The Braids were magical, powerful, inventive and absorbing, I liked Wild Beasts but sometimes they strayed too far into the world of Coldplay for my tastes. If you are interested you can hear the Braids here

Back to the photography, it seems that in the way rock and roll has become a tired medium so has Route 66, many of the images in this extensive selection show a route in decline, I have no idea why that is but it reminds me of the post we did on that other former music giant now in decline Detroit, Forgotten Detroit – 100 Abandoned Houses

If you would like to see the full set of images go here

Cars at “Cadillac Ranch” on historic Route 66  in Amarillo, 06 July 2003. As a tribute to America’s relationship with one of it’s favorite automobiles, a collective of artists called Ant Farm in 1974 placed 10 Cadillacs, ranging from a 1949 Club Coupe to a 1963 Sedan, in a wheat field located west of Amarillo.  Visitors are encouraged to draw or paint on the cars.  Cadillac Ranch is a popular stopping off point for tourists on historic Route 66 which stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles.  (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

A lone motorcycle rider travels on historic Route 66 across the western Arizona desert on the approach to Oatman, AZ, 12 July 2003. Route 66, 2,448 miles (3,939 km) of two-lane highway, was once the main artery between Chicago to Los Angeles. Between the early 1970’s and 1984 the road was slowly bypassed as Interstate 40 was built.  Now remaining sections of 66, including this desolate and winding 50-mile stretch from Kingman, AZ to the California border, still serve local traffic and attract motorcycle riders and tourists in search of classic Americana. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

A motel stands abandoned on June 16, 2007 in Newberry Springs, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Forgotten Detroit – 100 Abandoned Houses

You may already know of the decline of Detroit, from a once vibrant industrial city it is now being abandoned by large numbers of the population which is leaving many house empty and falling into decay. This is a worrying story of post industrial decline and it must ask the question; where else and where next. This article discusses that decline if you are interested in learning more. But these pictures of houses, falling to decrepitude are a haunting site and more can be seen here where there is a link to the hundred images of the title.

In Detroit, the number of abandoned houses is around 12.000, encompassing an area of 138 square miles ! People are leaving Detroit and soon people will rename the city with the name : Forgotten Detroit ! The news this week that Detroit’s population plunged more than 25% to just 714,000 in the last decade shouldn’t be surprising. The city’s collapse is as well-documented as it is astonishing – the population peaked at nearly 2 million in the 1950s, driven in part by a post-World War II auto industry boom now long gone.