Chained Ruins Part II

Uploaded 9 Sep 2010 — 2 favorites
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© Joshua Ball
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More of Joshua Ball’s Photos

  • The Final March
  • Chained Ruins Part II
  • Chained Ruins Part I
  • Cleveland Collaboration

Photo license: © All rights reserved

Much of the mid-west was built on the manufacturing demands of the auto industry. This is especially true for Detroit, Michigan whose pivotal role in the rise of the American auto industry earned it the nickname “Motor City.” I grew up in Toledo, Ohio which is approximately 50 miles south of Detroit. Much of Toledo’s infrastructure was built and developed due to its proximity to Detroit. In it’s heyday, Toledo would come to be known as the “Glass City” because of its role in supplying Detroit with auto glass. That said, the economic stability of my hometown has always been dependent on Detroit’s success and the fate of these two cities are seemingly intertwined.

Earlier this year, my brother Jeff ( and I set out to capture unique imagery of the decaying rust belt. While this brief journey would takes us to cities like Toledo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Gary and Chicago, nothing could compare to the images that we discovered in Detroit. As it was the first city we visited on the tour, we later joked that maybe it should have been the last since it set the “urban decay” bar rather high. Once the nation’s fourth largest city, Detroit is now a mere shadow of its former self. Despite what local politicians would have the public believe, Detroit has become the “poster boy” for economic decline, political corruptness and overall urban decay. While I have amassed thousands of images to illustrate the rotting infrastructure of the city, today’s blog entry is focused on one of the more “popular” attractions of forgotten Detroit.

It was late March and as soon as we entered the city we exited the highway. It took maybe five minutes of driving before we came across this beautiful structure. The images in this blog post are from Michigan Central Station, also known as Michigan Central Depot. Without going into too much detail, this structure was built in 1913 and finally closed in 1988. It is a relatively high-profile location and when we first pulled up, there was a tour bus full of curious spectators. We spent maybe 30 minutes at the site and there were at least 3 other photographers doing exactly the same thing we were. I did my best to capture some images that were both unique and descriptive but this particular building is rather popular and a quick Google search will yield thousands of images of this structure alone. For that reason, I thought that it was a rather fitting first stop. As the project went on, we ventured farther into the rotting core of the city into forgotten locations that were both dangerous and wondrous. However, Michigan Central Station gave us our first glimpse into the soul of Detroit.

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