You No Longer Have To Go To Europe To Tour The Ruins Of A Collapsed Empire

Packard 2When friends from around the world come to visit me when I’m in Detroit, they don’t want to see tributes to Detroit’s glorious industrial past or the museums dedicated to the ingenuity of a handful Americans.

They don’t come to try some of the best ethnic food from Japan, Eastern Europe or the Middle East that you can’t get anywhere else. They want to see crumbling ruins of a collapsed empire and the ghetto neighborhoods.

I’m not the only one who gets asked by out of town friends to take them on tours like this because several enterprising young photographer have followed in the footsteps of the industrialists by offering guided tours of Detroit’s industrial ruins.

Motor City Photography Workshops charges photographers to take them on “Ruin Porn” tours of the ruins of a collapsed empire and another rented a tour bus to take Dutch tourists to the world’s largest industrial ruin, Packard Plant.

The 40 acre Packard Plant opened in 1903 and churned out the Packard luxury automobile until the plant closed in 1956.  It was replaced by smaller manufacturing businesses for the next 25 years but as more automobile suppliers relocated outside the City of Detroit. The Packard Plant became a hot spot for for artists, photographers, graffiti artists, tourists, urban spelunkers and urban adventurers from the around the globe all interested in Rust Belt Chic.

As cool as the 40 acre Packard plant may appear, this industrial ruin and a symbol of a collapsed empire which for 50 years has been the industrial ruin version of the Prom Night Dumpster Baby. The site is extremely dangerous. Steve Neavling from the Motor City Muckraker wrote about how large chunks of the abandoned Packard Plant spilled onto the road nearly striking a pedestrian and about two tourists who were carjacked.

These tours of a collapsed empire may be ending as soon as they started because according to Neavling the 40 acre site has a new owner. An anonymous bidder put in the minimum bid of $21,000 at the Wayne County tax auction to by the 38 parcel site. The auction ends Friday with the winning bidder will be announced some time next week.

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