Great photos: A Glimpse into the Rise and Fall of Modern Civilization

2/05/2011

Detroit – Once the world capital of automobile industries not long ago – has laid in ruin recently.

Until the mid-20th century, Detroit was the most significant industrial town in the world, and Albert Kahn was its architect. The son of German immigrants built factories and sky scrapers like they were coming off a conveyor belt. And then, just as quickly as his city grew, its downtown began to decay.

It was no accident that his office was located in Detroit, a metropolis that had grown into one of the most important industrial towns in the world by the beginning of the 20th century. It was a center of modern capitalism and the world capital of automobile production. This is where Henry Ford established his Highland Park factory and created the production line delivering that most-desired of consumer goods, the Model T Ford. It was here the mass-production pioneer found many copycats. Detroit became the army’s biggest supplier during World War II; it became known as the “armory for democracy.” The city’s rise seemed unstoppable, and so did the rise of its chief builder, Albert Kahn.

 

Packard Motors was once a defining luxury car brand in Detroit, but now the delapidated factory is a defining ruin.

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The Packard Motors plant looks as if a wrecking ball has swung through the top floors, but the building has just been left to collapse.

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Tiger Stadium in Detroit closed in 1999.

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The waiting room of Detroit’s once-grand train depot, Michigan Central Station, long after the last train rolled out in 1988. A decision was made in 2009 to tear the building down.

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Fisher Body started as a carriage manufacturer, but became an auto-body provider for a number of Detroit car firms. This section of one Fisher plant is where the bodies were painted.

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The atrium of the old Farwell Building (opened 1915) was organized around a seven-story light shaft.

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The foyer of the once-grand Eastown Theater.

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The second story of the American Hotel, previously the Hotel Fort Wayne, where the venerable Freemason society the “Knights of Pythias” once lodged.

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The pressing room at Donovan House, where Motown Records was once based. The label, founded in Detroit by Berry Gordy, Jr., in 1959, became known as “Hitsville USA” thanks to artists like Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Jackson Five and Marvin Gaye. The photographers even found documents here signed by Gaye.

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The Highland Park police station is strewn with old files and mug shots.

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Fisher Body Plant 21 was the Fisher brothers’ main factory, erected in 1919 and designed by Albert Kahn.

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This villa was one of Albert Kahn’s first projects. Built in 1893 for the banker William Livingstone, it had to be torn down in 2007.

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In its day, the Ansonia Hotel was one of the finest in downtown Detroit.

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Thirty-five per cent of the inner city has become uninhabitable. When the last tenants move out of an apartment house, the heating may simply be turned off and the electricity disconnected. The result is an almost gothic vision of decline.

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The Saint Rita apartment house still has furniture from a bygone era.

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The ruined classrooms of Cass Technical High school can be seen through an array of open windows

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A patient room in the Herman Kiefer Hospital.

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The Mayan pyramids of Chichén Itzá were the inspiration for the Vanity Ballroom, which hosted Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway in the ’30s and ’40s. In the ’60s it became (briefly) a rock venue, hosting The Stooges and MC5.

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The old Cass Technical High School. Former students include the singer Diana Ross, rock musician Jack White, actress Ellen Burstyn and auto designer John DeLorean.

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A sign in the door of the Lois Apartment House warns people from entering because of a danger of collapse.

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The Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church.

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The Adams Theater, opened in 1917, closed after a murder in the building in 1988. It had to be torn down in 2009

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The once-magnificent Michigan Theater was serving as a place to park cars as early as the 1970s.

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A small library in Sain Christopher House, built around 1914, once belonged to the city’s public library system. The last tenant was a religious society which used the space as a meeting room.

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The United Artists Theater, opened in 1928, had a Spanish-gothic atmosphere as dramatic as anything onstage. Between 1978 and 1983 the Detroit Symphony used it as a recording studio.

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Lawyers, doctors and dentists had offices in the David Broderick Tower until the 1980s. The ruins of a dental practice can be seen on the 18th floor.

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The East Grand Boulevard Methodist Church was built in 1908, but moved in 1936 to make way for East Grand Boulevard

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Detroit’s Main Post Office, built by Albert Kahn, was used as a repository for schoolbooks until a fire destroyed it in 1987.

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The lobby of the 35-story Broderick Tower, the largest building in the state of Michigan when its doors opened in 1928.

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An old franking machine in the Broderick Tower. This was high technology for addressing and stamping envelopes in the 1930s.

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This old clock in Cass Technical High School hasn’t kept time in years.

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The cover of “Ruins of Detroit” by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre shows the grand ruin of Michigan Central Station

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Michigan Central also played an important role during World War II, as munitions and other materiel, not to mention soldiers from around the Midwest, moved from here out to the front.

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A dilapidated wall on the 30th floor of the 38-story Book Tower. The old Italian Renaissance skyscraper will be renovated

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The ballroom of the Lee Plaza Hotel on West Grand Boulevard dates from 1929. It once stood as a prime example of Art Deco design.

Source: Spiegelonline

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