Perusing the Packard Plant


Fifth Photography's first foray into Urban Decay

Back in September of last year I had a wonderful opportunity to photograph the urban decay in Detroit city. For those of you who have never visited the Motor City, the decay is frightful to behold. In just a decade the city has lost 25% of its population to its outlying suburbs. The result? An unheard of number of building vacancies. A sad day for Motor City to be sure but for photographers with a taste for capturing the degradation of modern infrastructure, it's nothing short of a gold mine.

My expedition began with an invite from my cousin and her fiancé to explore the Packard Plant. Opened in 1903 the Packard plant was considered to be at the forefront of modern automobile manufacturing. 3,500,000 square feet of abandoned factory. Talk about a field day. After brutal scavenging and numerous demolition attempts that were soon aborted the Packard plant has an almost war torn look to it. Where once skilled craftsmen practiced over eighty different trades now stands partially collapsed ceilings, battered walls, and missing floors all stripped of everything of value. The plant has essentially become a museum of graffiti artists. The collection contains works varying from crude scribblings to vibrant modern day masterpieces. One can spend hours surveying the various works scattered throughout the plant. Walking through the wreckage of a once mighty factory is a haunting experience. Every rooms surviving details, while scarce, beckon you to imagine an earlier time. A time when instead of debris and refuse, a throng of workers bustled tirelessly crafting the iconic horseless carriage. Sadly as the decades have rolled by, the evidence of this proud legacy has slipped away. Scrapers have nearly picked clean the bones of this manufacturing giant.

My first foray into urban decay left me hungering to experience more vanishing history. America is a massive country that has no shortage of decaying buildings containing rich histories waiting to be documented.

Abandonment _NRV8532 Once Countless shipments poured throughout these doors. Now only dust and echoes remain.

Scavenged _NRV8493 Stripped of everything of value, Nature is the only adornment left to the plant.

Inferno _NRV8538 Fire is a frequent visitor to the abandoned plant. Its footprint is everywhere.

Leakage _NRV8552 flashlights are advisable when exploring the darkest depths, phones work too

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Norman Roberts