This is an American city.

Detroit is a fascinating place.  I’m not sure what I can specifically add to the dialogue on the city – except to say that the images of the city, as powerful as they are, don’t do justice to the impact of seeing it with your own eyes.

I feel a connection to the place, having spent a fair amount of time in city while I was in grad school.  When JD Hammond posts a picture from the  old Michigan Theater, I feel a certain bond to the place.

I had seen pictures of the theater before.  It was featured in a scene from 8 mile, where the theater-turned-parking-garage serves as a backdrop for a rap battle – I thought the director had gone over the top with the post-apocalyptic set design.  The theater closed in the 70s, and the owners of the attached office building wanted more parking, but couldn’t demolish just the theater portion of the building without jeopardizing the structural integrity of the whole structure – so they gutted the seats and walls, and put in a parking deck.

Spending nights in downtown Detroit gives you a different perspective on the city.  I remember walking past the theater, seeing the interior through old doors and emergency exits (now blown out for ventilation) as the interior glowed in an orange hue from sodium vapor lamps, with the rest of the street wrapped in darkness.

There’s something extremely compelling about the place.  Twin Cities Streets for People recently posted this video from florent tillon on Vimeo.   It does an amazing job of capturing the images of the city, how desolate it is, yet it’s still home to 900,000 people.

Detroit Wildlife from florent tillon on Vimeo.

It’s well worth a watch – beautifully shot (and in full HD!), it captures the experience of the place, as well as featuring some of the city’s gems.

3 comments to This is an American city.

  • Downright horrifying. That was an excellent video, very sad and very well done. Makes me thankful that they never built the freeways across DC.

  • Alex Block

    Yes. It’s hauntingly beautiful, in an odd way.

    At the same time, it’s worth noting that Detroit is still a city of 900,000+ residents. Just worth keeping in the back of your mind when watching the video – it’s not a totally fair representation of what you’d encounter when walking or driving through the city.

    Then again, it’s not trying to be.

  • [...] to contrast the different legs of the journey – from the mines and the woods to Detroit (no stranger to hard times).  Gordon Lightfoot’s song specifically mentions a spiritual center of the journey from raw [...]

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