Documenting the gaping ruins of Detroit has become somewhat of a global obsession over the past few years. Since the city’s economy began to falter more and more homes, factories, and public buildings are being either abandoned or foreclosed. The world watches as the ruins of the once-mighty city crumble and peel, turning slowly into a haunting and beautiful mess.
Reports of rock-bottom house prices, and the rise of desperate violence have created a picture of a city in terminal decline while the images provided by photojournalists have given that picture an epic and monumental quality. Crumbling monuments to human achievement stand tall and vacant, demanding only the grandest of idioms: these ruins remind us of nothing less than the fall of Rome itself.
Beautiful as some of the photos are, they don’t tell the whole story. The world’s readiness to accept to the spectacular downfall of the American superpower and the once vital auto industry is narrow-sighted. Too quick are most to declare Detroit a wasteland and a burial ground. Many residents and community advocates are now speaking out about what is actually going in the city. Amongst the ruins of Detroit, new efforts to restore and sustain the city are taking hold.
This series of videos comes from boot company Palladium and is part of its innovative new campaign. Hosted by none other than Johnny Knoxville, the series features a number people working to rebuild their city. It casts Detroit not as a wasteland but as an new urban frontier where anything is possible. Check out the video below.
Daniel St. Germaine
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