Friday, April 26, 2013

Our Last Day in Detroit

And so we arose on our last day in Detroit. We found a superb little diner, the Clique restaurant, which we wished we'd found at the beginning of the trip, and then drove around to catch a few last sites before heading to the airport.
East Grand Boulevard Methodist Church constructed in 1908 used to be known as Fisher Memorial. There is no information on the internet that I could find.
Although heavily trashed I liked the feel of this place, it felt like it had held a warm community. We weren't too successful at finding other acessible abandonments so decided to opt for a Coney Island dog. These fast food restaurants are all over the place, more prolific even than McDonalds. They held no appeal for me, not being a hotdog fan, but nevertheless I felt I should not return home without at least trying this very popular food. It was horrendous. I absolutely never want one again. It was simply a tinned dog on a cheap bread roll with pig swill (chilli?) poured over the top. But at least now I have an opinion instead of saying I have no idea. I think on reflection the latter may have been preferable...
We drove to an industry we'd passed a couple of days previously called Ivan Doverspike, thinking they were abandoned but not totally sure, so we pulled up at the gate and Richard went inside for information. They remanufacture, rebuild or recondition multiple spindle automatic screw machines, and I had to look at their website to see what that meant.
Many of the buildings unfortunately are empty and sadly, the company isn't sure if it can hang on. They often have explorers checking them out and the guy said if we wanted to walk along the railway line then we could do that but he couldn't permit access.
So we went for a saunter and took some shots then headed back to the car for a visit to one last art project, Hamtramck, Disneyland.
On a residential street, you can walk down an alley at the backs of houses and come across one man's interpretation of Disneyland, built in his back yard over the past 12 years since he retired from his job at General Motors.
This view is from the back of his two garages that a lot of the structure is built upon. It spills into the rest of his yard and comprises of plastic animals, wooden structures and people, a carousel, pictures, lights, wind mills and Christmas lights, to name a few. It's mostly painted in primary colors and I couldn't make up my mind it it was a carnival theme or a tongue in cheek war theme since there are quite a few soldiers and missiles about.
If you click on this photo to enlarge it, you can see the missile is directed towards North America. Oops! I'm sure it isn't intentional as Dmytro Szylak, a Ukrainian immigrant really is the sweetest and most accommodating old man. And there were also many American flags.
He posed here for us amongst his creation which has many visitors each year, and even each day, as we arrived while a group of schoolkids were there, and others turned up immediately after us.
After leaving Dmytro we then went to American Jewelry and Loan, the pawn shop which is the star of the reality show Hardcore Pawn.
We arrived in the middle of filming so weren't allowed to take photos until they were done but I was content to watch while excitedly hopping from foot to foot.
I got my photo taken with Les Gold!
Lots of cool stuff for sale here but I bet that ghetto pheasant didn't think he'd end up here!
This was the item being haggled over when we arrived, A Harley Davidson bicycle. The price was finally agreed on $1000 so we can assume it was worth at least double that.
More photos with the team.
This was the guy who sold the HD bicycle. He seemed quite happy with the sale and had apparently held out for two days.
So after that excitement it was time to slowly head towards the airport and stop if we saw anything interesting along the way.
Goodbye abandoned houses,...
...goodbye cool fence sign,...
...and goodbye GASM.
This had been a very cool 5 days and we'd seen a lot of new things, met a lot of wonderful people and got to know a city pretty well in such a short time. A lot of that was thanks to Richard who did all the driving, and we did a lot of that. Detroit is a city that I could never live in, not the areas we focused on. These were covered in trash that's never picked up because the city can't afford to collect it and driving down street after street of abandoned, burned, collapsing and ravaged buildings was starting to get me down. My initial assumption had been that I would be leaving feeling impressed and awed by the multitude of abandonments that we'd had the opportunity to explore and adore, but instead it was the people who made the bigger impression on me. I'm in awe of these survivors who as Eric described, live in a post apocalyptic Mad Max world, yet stand proud of their city and refuse to be bowed. They are surrounded by trash and ruin on a seemingly eternal daily basis, yet are the friendliest and most welcoming folks I've met in a long time, despite many having lost jobs, homes or loved ones. In a city filled with grey drab crumbling walls and black burned out buildings, these people have individually or in groups splashed color in the darkest corners and erected vibrant art pieces in unexpected places. Their spirit is incredible and so many that we spoke to had no intention of leaving their city, they would not be broken. Detroiters, I salute you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Doverspike is wired with motion sensors and the company uses a lot of the space for storage.