Jennifer Snyder, a recent transplant to our fair burg, wrote to News Hits with a confession. Drawn to Detroit from New York City to be with her boyfriend, she came thinking deep down that “Detroit is not a city you live in, but a city you run from — after all, people have been doing it for years now. Detroit has nothing to offer as far as culture, diversity, or any other amenities” typically found in most big cities.
Snyder, 31, says that while driving around town in search of used furniture, she instead developed a “new outlook” on the city.
“As I drove in around the streets,” she explains, “I saw numerous curious immense structures that had been abandoned for what seemed like decades. There were colorful marquees on sides of buildings that threw me back in time to a day when I imagined they were used as advertisements or simply works of art. Buildings had carved engravings on them of names of places and dates when they were built. My first thought was to come back downtown with my camera and take pictures of all these places. But then, it occurred to me, that my curiosity did not end there. I wanted to see the insides of all these buildings, know what their history was, and understand what it must have been like to be living in a time when these buildings were at their liveliest.”
Searching the Web, Snyder found a kindred spirit in David Kohrman, whose Web site (www.forgottendetroit.com) is devoted to this city’s abandoned gems. Propelled by information she found there, Snyder began to ponder what could be done to help save some of these magnificent structures.
After some thought, inspiration hit.
“I would like to propose an idea that I feel would benefit not only the history of Detroit, but also the future of the city,” writes Snyder, who analyzes buying trends and the effectiveness of promotional programs for Ford Motor Co. “What if we were able to organize a tour of the history of Detroit? This tour would be complete with actually viewing the insides of abandoned buildings and leftover structures while being told the history of what you were seeing. A fee could be charged for this tour, and all the proceeds could go directly to a fund that assists in the restoration of Detroit.”
She notes that New York photographer Camillo Jose Vergara once made a similar proposition in an article called “Downtown Detroit: an American Acropolis” that appeared in Metropolis magazine. But Vergara, writes Snyder, “left me feeling that Detroit was a dead city, and there was no hope of rebuilding. He proposed that we take a 12-city block [area] and close it off for tourists to view what he calls, ‘The ruins of Detroit.’ The difference between his idea and mine is that I have high hopes for the city of Detroit, and I dream of a day when we can see all that we missed out on by being born too late.”
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.