Digging Detroit: The Packard Plant

12.10.12 Bucky Turco & Aymann Ismail

ANIMAL visited Detroit last week and for the next few days will be highlighting some stories from Motor City.

When it first began operating in 1903, the Packard Plant in Detroit was a marvel of industry where some of the nation’s finest luxury automobiles were produced. It was closed in 1958, but over five decades later still remains as a major monument to the decline of the city (along with other more contemporary shuttered landmarks like the Easton Theatre and Michigan Central Station). The sprawling complex sits on over 35 acres of land — to put that into perspective for New Yorkers, that’s about half the size of Stuyvesant Town—Peter Cooper Village — and is completely in ruins.

According to a recent article by the Detroit Free Press advocating for its demolition, the fire department doesn’t even bother responding to the location to extinguish blazes set there, because really, how much worse can it get? Its many structures have been reduced to open-aired shells of former buildings and are covered in graffiti, which ironically is the only evidence that human activity exists in the area apart from the conspicuous damage done by scrappers and arsonists. Despite the rubble and concrete detritus, a chaotic prettiness exists and work from some of the world’s most creative vandals can be found there.

Behold its decrepit glory and ask yourself what you would do with 3,500,000-square-foot of space covered in spray paint? Should it be preserved as a testament to the decay a single industry can do to a city or erased from the collective conscious for good?

(Photos: Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork)