Detroit: Going back to nature. (pictures)

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Detroit is only half inhabited by people. There are huge tracts of empty land dotted with abandoned factories and the facades of burned out houses. In many areas nature has started to take back the land leading to a baffling combination of decaying urban wasteland covered with neo-nature.

In some areas of the city wild turkeys, rabbits, and other unexpected wildlife roam through empty, broken up streets.

There has been talk of shrinking the city and using the deserted parts for farming, of all things. Here is an excellent article that describes the "right-sizing" of Detroit: http://www.freep.com/article/20090719/NEWS05/907190475/

Here are some random photos pulled off the web as an example:

IMAGE(http://viennasecession.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/6_warrencentertreevergara.jpg)

IMAGE(http://www.ryerson.ca/~imacburn/Images/07/detroit_06.jpg)

IMAGE(http://www.rwnaturenotes.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/vacant_manufacturing_building_in_detroit.jpg)

IMAGE(http://www.spiegel.de/img/0,1020,607394,00.jpg)

IMAGE(http://www.denverinfill.com/images/blog/2008-12/2008-12-27_detroit1.jpg)

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

What's the weather up there like?

It seems that MI exported its douche bag population to the North Side of Chicago.

IMAGE(http://nickcarey.fastmail.fm/reading_viaduct/rea_right.jpg)

IMAGE(http://img3.imageshack.us/img3/6929/aarchaeladsc05984.jpg)

IMAGE(http://www.insaneboi.com/decay/orph/image_071.jpg)

IMAGE(http://farm1.static.flickr.com/16/20749653_d7398347e2.jpg?v=0)

IMAGE(http://farm1.static.flickr.com/16/20750365_2336cc3422.jpg?v=0)

Wow. If it wasn't for the douchebag population, I would think it would be a cool place to put up an artists' collective.

New England has gone through smaller versions of this situation since the 1800s. You can frequently come across sites that used to be industrial or occupied by farms that have since returned to forest, but it's never been anything like on this scale. The difficulty with returning these sites to nature is that many of them are likely toxic due to lax pollution standards in earlier generations. Redevelopment projects in my area generally involve sizable investments and engineering that first have to clean up the site before any houses or new businesses can be built. This isn't a problem in places that have high property values to begin with (for example, a former waterfront coal plant located on a waterfront occupies space that has a high value for use as new condominiums), but for a business or homebuilder looking to set up shop and do business it's discouraging.

Pittsburgh is an example of a city that experienced a major downturn and transformation. It isn't the city it was during the steel boom by any stretch and his definitely a smaller city, but it is pretty damned livable now from what I could tell the last time I visited.

I just read however that despite the downturn in the Detroit economy, they are undergoing a baby boom. That's what Forbes says at least. Not entirely surprising considering the state of the economy and the nature of public assistance.

Paleocon wrote:

Wow. If it wasn't for the douchebag population, I would think it would be a cool place to put up an artists' collective.

I'm sorely tempted to take a vacation up there, do some exploring and take some pictures, but part of me tells me my stabbed and raped corpse would turn up when they start turning the place into farm land.

IMAGE(http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_4OuEfH0ftZM/SU5DpRpGwLI/AAAAAAAADNI/E1Bij9Y8IPI/s400/detroit+01.jpg)

IMAGE(http://tinywindows.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/3532114187_43d974f4e5.jpg)

IMAGE(http://farm1.static.flickr.com/13/18117797_54e0c3a721.jpg?v=0)

IMAGE(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_3vUVY5T6X_4/RyVdFCBxrkI/AAAAAAAAAV4/qZUwGKxctMQ/s400/P1090674.JPG)

IMAGE(http://jdlong.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/fresh-coons.jpg)

IMAGE(http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_yvEgF69Vv5Q/SZ83BlgzpwI/AAAAAAAACzs/0ORjEi4aq5Y/s400/detroit.jpg)

That is all I'll post for now but again, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I stuck with photos that showed nature encroaching on the ruins of the city. If you just want pictures of blight there is no shortage of photos.

I was just watching a bit of the Life Without People show last night. The premise is that humanity simply disappears. I'm not sure how since I missed the first 15 minutes, but it doesn't seem to be a catastrophic war or anything as all the cities remain standing. Then it explains what happens to various things a day, week, month, year, 5 years, 50 years, etc. later.

They stressed how quickly nature would reclaim man made objects such as buildings and streets. I am pretty sure they were overselling for added drama, but the speed this is happening to Detroit makes me wonder. Very interesting to see it actually in action.

Thanks for posting these. I don't know if it makes me morbid, but I find scenes of urban decay like these incredibly beautiful.

Have you ever been to the Packard Plant? It's a massive old car factory, now slowly falling apart. If you're doing any more urban exploration you might want to check it out.

Teneman wrote:

I was just watching a bit of the Life Without People show last night. The premise is that humanity simply disappears. I'm not sure how since I missed the first 15 minutes, but it doesn't seem to be a catastrophic war or anything as all the cities remain standing. Then it explains what happens to various things a day, week, month, year, 5 years, 50 years, etc. later.

They stressed how quickly nature would reclaim man made objects such as buildings and streets. I am pretty sure they were overselling for added drama, but the speed this is happening to Detroit makes me wonder. Very interesting to see it actually in action.

I saw something similar that theorized that 100k years after human beings become extinct, the only evidence we'd have of human existence would be our carbon footprint.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R: The D.E.T.R.O.I.T Edition.

God, it's like the end of Final Fantasy VII.

While I was in Mexico, they talked about how difficult it was to find Mayan sites, as the rainforest would completely swallow entire cities just months or years after their abandonment. It's incredible to think of the same thing happening in not-so-rainforesty Detroit.

Why not convert the land back to farmland (once it's been detoxified, of course)? At least then it can be useful.

Paleocon wrote:

I saw something similar that theorized that 100k years after human beings become extinct, the only evidence we'd have of human existence would be our carbon footprint.

There would probably be a few landmarks left. i.e. If the Great Pyramid survives us, I'd suppose it would just get swallowed up with sand and remain as a mystery for whoever digs it up next.

That show on the Discovery (or is it History) Channel, "After Humans..." is interesting to watch sometimes. It's amazing how little time it takes nature to begin breaking down a building once its insides get even partially exposed to the elements / temperature fluctuations. On the other hand, some buildings seem more resiliant than you'd expect. Hoover Dam got pretty good marks for survivability. I think they said it would last a few thousand years even without human intervention.

Double!

Triple post in respect to mother nature!

(sorry my internet connection was acting up)

KaterinLHC wrote:

Why not convert the land back to farmland (once it's been detoxified, of course)? At least then it can be useful.

When speaking of the future of these areas the general idea is that they should be turned to farmland. There is a strong eco-movement to use Detroit as a test bed for urban renewal via the greening of previously blighted areas.

Unfortunately it is not an easy task. The amount of money it would take to tear down some of these MASSIVE buildings is prohibitive. Not to mention the fact that most of these plants operated under very little environmental regulation and the land itself is still polluted.

Detroit is broke. Priority for tearing buildings down is on abandoned properties that are close to schools or in populated neighborhoods. If Detroit can't manage to tear down the abandoned structures that are a menace to the citizens then they sure can't afford to tear down huge abandoned plants that are isolated from residential areas.

The idea is to essentially sell off parts of Detroit to other cities that can afford to redevelop the land.

I'd also like to point out that many of these properties are still privately owned. The city doesn't even own the land that these plants are on. The owners need to be made to sell the property off or tear down the abandoned buildings.

In regards to the packard plant here is a link to a Flikr done by urban explorers who ventured into the packard plant.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/clubwhoa/sets/72157619093006500/

NOTE: Not sure if all those flickr shots are SFW. There are over 500 pics.

It seems like a lot of those building materials would be recycleable in one form another.

Concrete, brick, stone, steel, copper etc. All quality materials that can be re-used. (i.e. even concrete can just be broken up and ground down for a component of new concrete mix). Maybe there is not enough profit / value in it (other than any copper/aluminum... I'd guess there are scavengers hard at work on that.)

Property owners must be paying property tax on those shells of buildings. I'm surprised they'd sit on them.

Gorilla.800.lbs wrote:

S.T.A.L.K.E.R: The D.E.T.R.O.I.T Edition.

Exactly what I was thinking.

Irongut wrote:

It seems like a lot of those building materials would be recycleable in one form another.

Concrete, brick, stone, steel, copper etc. All quality materials that can be re-used. (i.e. even concrete can just be broken up and ground down for a component of new concrete mix). Maybe there is not enough profit / value in it (other than any copper/aluminum... I'd guess there are scavengers hard at work on that.)

Property owners must be paying property tax on those shells of buildings. I'm surprised they'd sit on them.

For the old buildings there's probably asbestos, lead based paint, PCBs and who knows what else lurking. I'm sure if it was remotely profitable, they'd have recycled the materials by now.

KaterinLHC wrote:

Why not convert the land back to farmland (once it's been detoxified, of course)? At least then it can be useful.

Maybe it's my cynicism talking, but farming as an industry isn't exactly on the uptick. I suspect you'd spend millions of tax dollars rehabbing land that ends up being used for gov't subsidized farming. Yay.

Burn, bulldoze, and make it a wildlife refuge.

Irongut wrote:

Property owners must be paying property tax on those shells of buildings. I'm surprised they'd sit on them.

Many buildings/parcels in real estate are owned by single-purpose corporate/limited liability entities that can sit on properties owing back taxes without triggering any real pain for the owners. Probably a lien goes on the property records quickly, but it takes the city looking to foreclose on the property for anything to be done with the property. I assume that city won't want to own the property unless it knows it can sell it of quickly to a new owner because it doesn't want to be liable for legal claims connected to the parcel.

Irongut wrote:
Paleocon wrote:

I saw something similar that theorized that 100k years after human beings become extinct, the only evidence we'd have of human existence would be our carbon footprint.

There would probably be a few landmarks left. i.e. If the Great Pyramid survives us, I'd suppose it would just get swallowed up with sand and remain as a mystery for whoever digs it up next.

That show on the Discovery (or is it History) Channel, "After Humans..." is interesting to watch sometimes. It's amazing how little time it takes nature to begin breaking down a building once its insides get even partially exposed to the elements / temperature fluctuations. On the other hand, some buildings seem more resiliant than you'd expect. Hoover Dam got pretty good marks for survivability. I think they said it would last a few thousand years even without human intervention.

They actually said on the show I was watching last night that Hoover Dam would break down within a few years. There's some muscle things that love to invade the water cooling intake pipes which have to be scraped out continuously. Absent people to scrape them out, they'd clog the pipes in a few months, and the turbines would overheat and shut down shortly thereafter. With no water passing through the turbines the lake would continue to rise until it eventually spilled over the top. Perhaps the dam would survive for thousands of years underwater though...

That's probably the cheapest way to go.

Nature is so resilient and hungry to thrive. I remember hearing that even around Cherynobyl, an area expected to be poisoned for hundreds (if not thousands) of years, nature, both animal and plant, has made an astoundingly successful comeback by the sheer fact that there are no humans in the area.

We are cockroaches or worse from an 'Earth' perspective. Maye sentience isn't such a great thing evolution-wise.

Teneman wrote:

Perhaps the dam would survive for thousands of years underwater though...

Nothing made of stone/concrete survives very long underwater where a current exists.

Oops that might be my mistake. (I blame the merlot with dinner!) I thought they said structurally, it would last eons before collapsing.

Like you mentioned, I remember they said the electrical generators would continue to run for a while even without human intervention before they overheated. I thought the structure itself was expected to last much much longer.

Irongut wrote:

That's probably the cheapest way to go.

Nature is so resilient and hungry to thrive. I remember hearing that even around Cherynobyl, an area expected to be poisoned for hundreds (if not thousands) of years, nature, both animal and plant, has made an astoundingly successful comeback by the sheer fact that there are no humans in the area.

We are cockroaches or worse from an 'Earth' perspective. Maye sentience isn't such a great thing evolution-wise.

The DMZ between North and South Korea has become an amazing area for wildlife. Species that were previously thought to be extinct have been reported seen there. Too bad it would be nearly impossible to study them without sparking an international incident. I joked to my wife about reintroducing Korean tigers to the area and she said it would be a good idea if they could survive the landmines.

Irongut wrote:

Oops that might be my mistake. (I blame the merlot with dinner!) I thought they said structurally, it would last eons before collapsing.

Like you mentioned, I remember they said the electrical generators would continue to run for a while even without human intervention before they overheated. I thought the structure itself was expected to last much much longer.

The interesting part was they mentioned that when the turbines failed, Las Vegas's lights would go out. They specifically mentioned that those would be the last working man made lights on earth. Not sure if that was hyperbole for effect, of if the Hoover Dam would literally be the last electrical generating structure to fail.

The Hoover dam would last a loooong time even underwater.

If I recall, the center of the Hoover Dam still has concrete that hasn't set yet. The Dam is incredibly dense.

Erosion would work on it, sure, but it would take a looong, looong time.

In regards to the tax situation with these abandoned buildings in Detroit Funkenpants has it spot on.

Many of the owners just ignore the taxes and dare the city to take possession of property that nobody wants. The whole thing is a giant cluster****.

This is just another example of privatizing profits and socializing costs.

Profits on those buildings were made a long time ago. In the heyday of Detroit. It made people rich.

Now it is up to the government to solve.

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