God has left Detroit.

Rolling Hall, Ford Motor Company, River Rouge Complex, Dearborn

The Motor City is being driven to the edge of ruin. Once the fourth largest city in America, the epitome of our industrial wealth and might sprawling over 139 square miles, Detroit has been in a downward spiral for years. In 1950 its population was 2 million, today it is less than 800,00. Fully one-third of Detroit is now empty land, with more abandoned property than any American city.

House on Walden Street, East Side

Capturing the faded glory and epic tragedy of Detroit, Andrew Moore has created a stunning photography show, Detroit Disassembled, organized by the Akron Art Museum from now through October 10. The exhibition features 30 huge photographs, taken between 2008-2009, that are so lush, towering and solemn, the galleries feel like cathedrals.

Michigan Central Station, Waiting Room with snowdrift

“Moore’s photographs of the Motor City are sublime – beautiful, operatic in scale and drama, tragic yet offering a glimmer of hope,” says the museum’s Director of Curatorial Affairs Barbara Tannenbaum, who organized the exhibition.

Cooper Elementary School, East Side

Kind of like the future of Detroit itself. Right now, the city government is planning to use federal money to demolish 10,000 empty residential buildings, at a cost of $20 million. Plans being considered are an urban homestead, with inner city residents setting up urban farms, or connecting viable neighborhoods with green space and relocating the residents in dead and dying areas.

Arnold Nursing Home, 7 Mile Road

What will happen in the future to a once majestic industrial city that is slowly crumbling is anybody’s guess. But right now “the true engineer” (as Moore calls it) of transformation is nature itself, as it reclaims the abandoned structures of the city. On the top floor of a book depository a dense matting of decayed books has given birth to a grove of birch trees nourished by rotting wood pulp. The metaphor of destruction and rebirth could hardly be more profound.

Detroit Public Schools Book Depository

If your summer plans won’t take you to Akron, you can buy the gorgeous large-scale book of Moore’s photographs right here.

The book!

And I’m donating today to support this rocking little museum with a big vision of showing contemporary art and great photography in beautiful Akron, Ohio – right near my dad’s hometown. (And thanks Lu Law, for the hot tip on this story!)

9 thoughts on “God has left Detroit.

  1. Pingback: Left detriot | Haymanproducts

  2. Great story, Betty. Hits home as my father in law was from that area. Perhaps some form of renaissance in the future will happen for this damaged city.

  3. Of course, if you show the negative sites and locations n the city its gona look awful! Detroit is a very beautiful city
    And has its own kind of people
    It is disrespectful for these various publications and
    Websites to show these disgusting
    Photographs and make it out to give a vision of the whole city!
    God is alive and well in Detroit!!?

    • Oh, I don’t think the intention was malicious — I think there is a lot of hope for Detroit to reinvent itself and I know that Andrew Moore feels particularly moved by the people of the city being so resilient and forward-thinking. So … yeah! Let’s get it on, as Marvin Gaye would say…

    • Keep dreaming. With the citizens of Detroit continuing to elect public officals like Mayor and present convict Kwame Kilpathrick, Council Woman and present convict Monica Conyers, Congressman and communist John Conyers there is no hope.

    • There is no hope for Detroit. It’s devolving into a city of lotto/liquor shops, small churches, tire piles, charred buildings and grass. Society has crumbled to the point of no return. Who would move there and raise a family except for some hard core urban survivalist? It’s a view towards time moving backwards towards what Detroit used to be, a prairie.

      • Oh, I think there’s always hope … and I’m thinking that maybe it’s a new model of urban/farm/hybrid living…. and if they can attract new business there, who knows?? There are plenty of people who love Detroit (Kid Rock, for one) — and love is a powerful weapon! Happy Thanksgiving, Tom!

  4. Andrew Moore’s photos are breathtaking. It certainly looks as though God has left Detroit.

    A question for Detroit public schools: Why did you leave all those books to rot like that? There are so many schools in so many countries desperate for “books”.

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