Vacationing in Detroit in July

Detroit, Michigan (Map)

Summer 2011.


It was far too long since I was in Detroit, so I phoned up Chad & soon enough I was riding through the streets with him.

I had recently learned about a new cold storage building, which piqued my interest as I observed Chad's adventures on the interweb.

For a place which I didn't think was abandoned for very long, the collapses were pretty crazy.

A friend of mine pointed out that the floors didn't have rebar inside, so I guess they would be weaker than modern-day, rebar-supported, concrete floors? Another friend pointed out that there was evidence of a I suppose that could be the cause as well.

Away from that collapsed 2-story section; the main building looked like the above scene, 6 times over.

Cold storage buildings were used before refrigeration systems were so widespread, so it makes sense that there wouldn't be any windows. The point of these buildings was to keep perishable food cold while in transit, so they were built without windows, and with thick concrete walls and another wall of insulating cork.

As time passed, we've built more efficient 1-story cold storage buildings & refrigeration systems have become cheaper and more widespread. As a result, most Rust Belt cities have an abandoned cold storage building or two.

In contrast to the dull interior spaces, the roof views were easily the highlight of the location.

The church in the foreground is the Sweetest Heart of Mary - a fine gothic revival structure from 1893.

Project housing & Mckey-D's.

The climb up to the rooftop water tower involved getting on top of a 7 foot roof, then up a smaller 5 foot roof, then finally up a 4 foot wall which had a large drop to the left.

I watched as Crawlspace, Nailhed & Chad climbed up...then finally decided to join them. We sat up there for a good hour in the waning hours of the evening - just leaning back against the water tower & basking in the sunlight.

Chad was all excited about his projected video game screen, so we returned to his house afterward & got faded, while I tried to make the Penguins defeat the Red Wings.

I'm not much for video games or technology, but I do have to admit that it was rad to sit in his garage and feel like I was playing video game hockey at a small theatre.

The next day we stopped at the old Eloise Asylum while en route to Detroit. Chad thought it was worthwhile for me to see the asylum's museum, but that plan was thwarted when we walked into the main hospital & a clerk asked us how we got past security - apparently you can no longer visit the museum due to State of Michigan budget cuts (they don't have anyone available to keep an eye on you).

Not all was lost though, as I have a long-standing obsession with lingering buildings from giant asylum campuses. Therefore I asked Chad to park & I snapped a few pics of the fire department building (one of only 5 of Eloise's original 78 buildings still standing).

Eloise was before my time, so I know next to nothing about the place.

Therefore, Chad showed me the unbeknownst-to-me asylum cemetery; which was really interesting. It took us about 5 minutes to actually find one of the markers, beneath the thick grass of the forgotten land parcel.

Moving into Detroit proper, there wasn't anything set in stone which we needed to see.

That's the good thing about hanging out with just Chad though; as I can pick any old obscure building I want - like the old DFD Engine 48.

Detroit Fire Departments (DFD) are number sequentially, with Engine 1 being established in 1860. This means Engine 48 is (relatively) new, only being established in 1924. The fire department left the building in 1980 and it became a private residence for a while, and it was for sale for $190k in 2006, but it sits abandoned today.

The ground-level hall had a lot of clothes & garbage, while the top-floor had a handful of rooms with impressive woodwork. It was definitely a case of 'they don't build them like they used to'.

I would kill to have that cabinet in my house.

Looking out of the roof hatch, you could see the Marathon refinery not very far away. Marathon is actually offering 150% of the home values, or a flat $40 000, to every homeowner in this neighbourhood; as it hopes to buy up all of the houses & flatten them into green space - eliminating the neighbourhood bordered by its refinery and the Ford plant.

That was a huge reason I wanted to see this: if Marathon is successful, this will all be gone and simply an overgrown field.

Enough gawking at the neighbourhood though...the skies were black and a fierce storm was on the way!

Whereas I hadn't checked the forecast, Chad brought up a radar map with his technology & knew the storm would be short & sweet.

So we cracked some Stroh's & watched the heavy rains & lightning. Growing up near the thunderstorm capital of Canada, I'm unsure why this doesn't happen to us more often.

Anyway, thanks to technology, we were able to safely leave after 10 minutes.

While driving along to the next spot, we came upon low-lying smoke & decided to search out the building fire.

No worries to the building stock though, the smoke was only someone burning the rubber off of copper wires out front of their house! We got a kick out of the shopping cart fire & the homeowner got a kick out of the boys taking pictures of his fire.

(They burn the rubber off of the copper because you get more money that way. In other places, it's hard work to cut the rubber off with a blade...but you can just burn the rubber off in Detroit).

We went to some apartments next. 

I had been drinking on the roof of this place at Christmas, but that was at 3 a.m. - therefore I asked Chad to go here today because I wanted to see the interior (which ended up being a bit of a let down).

Leaving the rooftop we stayed with the apartment theme, as we went over to the west side & hit a far more impressive one (apartment).

The Ormond Apartments.

I know nothing more about this location than the fact that it has been abandoned for quite a few years.

Some of the Ormond's interior spaces were a, um, a little dilapidated; so we had to be careful trying to go skyward.

God damned do I love these impressive west side apartment buildings though.

In this area of Detroit, as you'd go north, there were a collection of very nice houses, which eventually led to this district with high-class apartment buildings.

The amount of architectural flourishes & extravagance is heartwarming. I actually feel bad because I'm did a completely inadequate job of showing this in my pictures - and this is the second time I've did it for one of these apartment buildings!

Hopefully the other impressive apartment building is left alone & I can step up to the task whenever I'm home again.

It was time for me to meet up with a friend, so Chad dropped me off & I thanked him for the hospitality.


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