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Then & Now: Abandoned Detroit School

Many songs have been written about Detroit being a "rock" city of the USA, but today, we take a look at one of its many desolate infrastructures. These juxtaposed before and after images reveal how time has deteriorated Detroit institutions.

“No other city in America has experienced such rapid growth and abandonment as Detroit. The consequences to the people, culture, and society of the city are unprecedented.”

When a city designed for 2 million people finds itself not as populated, it starts to become dysfunctional. DetroitUrbex, an urban exploration site focused on the largest city in Michigan, aims to raise this awareness through photographing the once-inhabited and now-abandoned spaces across town.

It’s a very interesting concept, considering Detroit’s depopulation, and these “then vs. now” photos of one of its schools is particularly chilling. To see a once lively learning institution as a barren building, also considering the declining rate of quality education in many parts of the world, makes one feel melancholic and uneasy about the prospect of mismanaged resources and missed opportunities.

But that could be DetroitUrbex’s point exactly.

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written by denisesanjose


  1. bsdunek


    It is a shame. Detroit has gone from a thriving city to a third world country in my lifetime. The City Council has been completely detached from actually running the city since at least 1970. Dennis Archer and current Mayer Dave Bing have tried to improve things, but have been shot down by the City Council at every turn. Now the state wants to send in an Emergency Manager, and they are fighting that. Considering the people of Detroit that have to suffer under these conditions, I think an Emergency Manager is a good idea.
    Thanks for the photos - well done. Sorry for the rant.

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  2. kevinhodur


    This reminds me a bit of the BBC2 documentary "Requiem for Detroit?" from a few years back. Amazing how much the city was left to rot, but also amazing how long there was a mirage of survival and success. The roots of the problems for Detroit dug down many, many decades ago.

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  3. denisesanjose


    @bsdunek @kevinhodur Interesting insights. Have you been to Detroit recently? Maybe you can share your photos.

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  4. kevinhodur


    @denisesanjose: I definitely would if I had any. I think I might have an old one from a phone or something, but I had a notebook in my hand for most of the trip. I was doing dissertation research at the time.

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  5. alburnkat


    From some of the other photos and news reports about the closing for Detroit Public Schools, I was surprised there still wasn't books on the shelves of the library photo in this article.
    Here is a link to my Album taken at Belle Isle last summer. Belle Isle is an island park in the Detroit River that the city can not afford the upkeep, the Michigan state government offer to lease the park from the city and to take over all maintenance and restoration, but the Detroit City Council refused, so what was a beautiful park will continue to deteriorate.

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