Detroit: Not Dead, Yet.

"Home" (2011) by Ralph Jones courtesy of Detroit Highlights & Shadows

I don’t know much about Detroit outside of its iconic images as a former great industrial and arts center and now as a ghost town.  (Although, Detroit still has an NFL team and Los Angeles doesn’t so that alone would indicate it’s not dead, yet.)  And what I’ve seen of it is mostly b-roll shot for entertainment purposes so I’m well acquainted with the original Motown storefront and, of course, the fist statue.  But as a living, breathing community?  I got nothing.

So it was one day when I forwarded a lovely photo of a snow and ice-covered tree on Belle Isle to a friend who lives in Detroit.  He then forwarded me two websites that feature photography of Detroit that document the city as it is and how it’s been changing for the last decade or so.

The above image, Home, comes courtesy of Ralph Jones and Detroit Highlights & Shadows, whose mission statement plainly states his goal is

To document the city in an attempt to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the uniqueness of Detroit, her buildings, and her people.

What is most lovely about his site is that even when there are images of urban decay, as you can’t avoid it when documenting Detroit, there is much more life than destruction to his work. Detroit isn’t just a dead icon, it’s a real place, with neighbors, and beauty, and life, and an NFL team, which again, LA can’t say that.  What I love about the above image isn’t just how artful and colorful the home is, I love that it’s just one of many artful, creative homes.  There’s also one with polka dots and an extraordinary installation featuring an old motor boat festooned with stuffed animals.  Humor and whimsy are not what we expect when we think of Detroit.  But maybe we should.

Image of Detroit Urban Craft Fair 2010 courtesy of dETROITfUNK

dETROITfUNK, another site dedicated to Detroit, chronicles how the city has changed in the last decade.  Although similar in tone, dETROITfUNK strives to bring the details of Detroit into sharper focus.  Rather than highlighting passing moment and images that collectively offer an overview of the city, dETROITfUNK gets down into the details of places and events to round out that overview.

Combined, the blogs give visitors an idea of what really makes up Detroit.  Instead of just a fist statue and some hollowed out buildings.

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5 Responses to Detroit: Not Dead, Yet.

  1. Ralph Jones says:

    Wow the Lions are getting some respect in being called an NFL team.
    Thanks for the kind words.

  2. 313th says:

    Detroit is a great city. It’s seamlessly lean, dirty and flirty. It’s gritty and creative. It’s rough and tumble, hip and trendy, local and loyal. Detroit will make you think, make you work, make you wonder. It’s cheap and inclusively exclusive. It’s finely tuned but unrefined. It’s elusive yet brutally lucid. A fallen giant yet quiet. It’s classically contrary. A city frozen in time that doesn’t stop moving.

    Leave your heart in San Francisco. Find your soul in Detroit.

    -Somebody’s Detroiter

  3. rid0617 says:

    We have lived in the south most of our lives and are planning on a move to Detroit in March or April. Not often you get the opportunity to be on the ground floor of something. And I’m pushing 60

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