Detroit’s beautiful, horrible decline

The city of Detroit, Michigan is one of America’s largest cities and is the undisputed centre of its automotive industry, being home to the “Big Three” auto companies: Chrysler, General Motors and Ford.

Since the lat 1980s, the automotive industry in Detroit and, by proxy, the local economy of Detroit have taken several serious beatings. These include the 1980s oil glut, the summary action closure of several auto plants in the region to outsource to Mexico and, most recently, the Great Recession – where the government had to spend $13.4 billion bailing out GM and Chrysler.

As a consequence of this economic turmoil, Detroit is emptying. The 2009 residential lot vacancy in Detroit was 27.8% – up from 10.3% in 2000.  Urban decay is the result, not just in terms of individual homes but entire neighbourhoods, shops, theatres, malls etc. have been shut up and abandoned.

The French photography duo Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre have made Detroit the subject of a five year project. The gorgeous results of which can be seen below. In their own words: “they have become a natural component of the landscape. Detroit presents all archetypal buildings of an American city in a state of mummification. Its splendid decaying monuments are, no less than the Pyramids of Egypt, the Coliseum of Rome, or the Acropolis in Athens, remnants of the passing of a great Empire.

NB: Pass your mouse over the photos to find out what you’re looking at.


My friend Caelainn pointed out the similarities between the photos above and the (at least, locally) famous abandoned factory on George Street, Aberdeen where she and I went exploring many a time last year:

Photos by Caelainn Hogan



Filed under America, Architecture, Current Affairs, Photography

3 responses to “Detroit’s beautiful, horrible decline

  1. Pingback: D.R. Horton Sees `Challenging’ Year as Home Sales May Decline | The News of World

  2. Wow. I can’t even put into words how great these shots are. I love them.

  3. Pingback: Marchand & Meffre whisk us off to the magical world of abandoned theatres | An Irishman Abroad

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