The Packard Plant is a former automobile manufacturing factory in Detroit, Michigan where the luxury Packard cars were made by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan. The company was later bought and became The Studebaker-Packard Corporation of South Bend, Indiana.
The factory is 3,500,000 square feet and the land covers 40 acres just off of East Grand Boulevard and was designed by Albert Kahn and was opened in 1903. At the time it was considered the most modern automobile manufacturing facility in the world and was also the first use of reinforced concrete for industrial construction.
The factory closed in 1958 but much of the structure was in good condition until the last few years have really showed the age. Now the main traffic of the Packard are urban explorers like me, scavengers, graffiti artists, paintballers, and even a dumping spot for stolen vehicles.
“Be able to be alone. Lose not the advantage of solitude, and the society of thyself”
I do not always name my pictures but this shot I called “solitude” and to me it really was a blend of how I felt and how quiet the Packard Plant used to be. I shot this before the Packard was scrapped and really destroyed, before urban exploring was immensely popular and the thing to do. I am not saying i’ve been doing this longer than you vibe…it’s just what it is. This was one of the first pictures I took using a digital slr camera and having the screen to help with the composition a term many now call instant gratification helped me make the proper decision to get everything about this shot perfect for me.
The Packard Plant at this time was physically in good condition and it was actually difficult to get into and going from floor to floor took a lot of walking as most of the doors were sealed shut. The only way into the building was a hole in the wall hidden behind a tree on the south end of the building. If you drive by today the building looks like a bomb has gone off inside of it but I promise less than ten years ago this building was sealed pretty tightly and in good condition. Without going into details I have no knowledge about regarding the security that was removed from the building but I can say that as soon as they were removed the shit hit the fan quickly and the Packard Plant will never be saved.
During the winter months in Michigan the skies are not always this bold and beautiful and it took six days of waiting for this to happen. Each of those six days I walked in and never passed another person, heard another person, or saw evidence that another person had been inside the building. When I saw these blue skies I knew I would finally have what I wanted and as I sat the tri-down it was so difficult to contain my excitement as I knew I was about to create an amazing picture. I set up my shot clicked some frames and walked out not really knowing this was really the end of the good days for the Packard.
A few months later more holes were staring to appear on the exterior of the building and as traffic increased the condition of the building started to decline. I was now meeting more people inside the buildings and one day as I came around the corner I saw that the chair had been shattered into many pieces and the walls had been busted into rubble. The water was now moss filled and murky and everything that made this picture beautiful was now gone.
Solitude is from my post industrial abandoned architectural interior set.
Less than a mile away from Motown Records recording studio in the New Center Area of Detroit Michigan is where the vacant Lee Plaza (also known as Lee Plaza Hotel or Lee Plaza Apartments) rises boldly and beautifully into the sky. Built in 1929 by Charles Noble as an ornate high rise hotel it was decorated with sculpture and tile on the exterior and was a perfect example of 1920’s Art Deco architecture. It is registered historic site by the state of Michigan and on November 5, 1981 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Early morning is always my favorite time to shoot pictures especially when it includes an eight foot drop into the pitch black basement of Lee Plaza. A quick walk to the first floor Ballroom where I find this beautiful Grand Piano leaning on the last leg. I find this beautiful and tragic in one thought but I hurry to capture the last of the morning light. I see the lone green chair and think about who sat here…who might have played here and the history this room created.
The Lee Plaza piano is from my post industrial architectural interior set. This entire set of photos are from the mid west aka the rust belt. As industry fades away and jobs are lost we are left with an amazing history of beautiful architecture and great wealth decaying into nothing.
“But when I first fell in love with the piano, I knew it was me. I was dying to play”
Detroit aka The Motor City is the largest city in the State Of Michigan and is the worlds automotive capital. Founded on July 24th, 1701 by French explorer Antoine de la Mothe, sieur de Cadillac. Sitting on the Detroit River Detroit became a major port city and the population grew quickly and very diverse. While Detroit is know for it’s crime and social economic problems it has influenced the world with it’s diversity, industrial power, arts and music, and sporting teams.
All my life I have always dreamed of living in a big city. A city that buzzes with excitement and energy. I have always dreamed of walking down the street past people walking quickly to make it into work on time. At the subway and bus stations their would be newspaper stands and someone yelling the days headlines. Cars and Taxi Cabs would be fighting for space and aggressively pushing each other around. I live in Metro Detroit and the city is not the most vibrant and the reputation is not great it has something else. The people who live here are proud and loyal and are digging deep to make some changes. My goal with this image was to show something positive and clean.
“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death”
I believe in thinking differently. Everywhere I look I see potential and it drives me to create. I am guided by integrity, principles, and compassion. I have spent my life studying details and how to communicate them visually. I do this by working patiently and actually listening to you and your needs. Which allows me to create beautifully composed visual materials and photographs.
The above text is my bio and the links below are my artists statements for galleries on my website…just need to write them!
“Yep, Inside each and every one of us is one true authentic swing, Somethin’ we was born with, Somethin’ that’s ours and ours alone, Somethin’ that can’t be taught to ya or learned, Somethin’ that got to be remembered, Over time the world can, rob us of that swing, It get buried inside us under all our wouldas and couldas and shouldas, Some folk even forget what their swing was like”
I have been having this same discussion over and over the last few weeks focusing on what is an authentic photograph. Truly the answers I have heard and discussed with other people have been both amusing, insightful, and educational.