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  1.  (6477.1)
    Boingboing posted the work of James D. Griffioen this afternoon. He's done several series on Detroit returning to wilderness.

    Shots like this:


    Showing just how far gone Detroit is edging towards a return to the wild. Honestly, some of these images look like Pripyat.

    I've been up to Detroit a number of times in the past few years. A LOT of experimentation going on with renewable energy, urban farming and planning and green tech of all kinds. It's a bit like "Well, if we cock up here, no one is around to complain about noisy wind turbines." Balanced with that are hail mary projects about downtown. I'd love to move there full-time and work on them. I think some amazing innovation is afoot, I hope they let these empty spaces become playgrounds for chemical clean-up, urban food production and other NECESSARY tech for the 21st century urban human.

    Funny thing is, you drive for 20 minutes and you're in some very tony suburbs. Hell, if you stood on a high enough roof out in Gross Pointe you could see most of this.

    When reading "Fell" this is the kind of setting I imagine. The Feral City. Anyone else care to share images, stories, plans?
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeJul 30th 2009
     (6477.2)
    Well, I read a few months back that a bunch of artists are slowly moving into particular neighborhoods to form their own little collectives since the houses are cheap and in desperate need of being fixed up.
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      CommentAuthorbjacques
    • CommentTimeJul 31st 2009
     (6477.3)
    They'd better make sure they can buy the houses or at least get them in friendly hands. Maybe even form a neighborhood association under the radar so that whatever they build doesn't get taken away from them when it succeeds.
    • CommentAuthor/
    • CommentTimeJul 31st 2009
     (6477.4)
    Orwells - By "feral", did you mean "rural"? Because those pics you posted look like a peaceful country side to me.

    I've been wanting to get some feral vids for Whitechapel, but I'm thinking the locals might object to being caught on film. As a matter of fact, I already know it won't work...if they see the camera...
  2.  (6477.5)
    @Sleepless:

    Yeah, but that's industrial/residential area gone wild. The tax base fled, the city services (roads, water, maintenance) all went by the wayside and you get this. Rural is just countryside. This is settled land gone abandoned.

    Chicago has some areas that are empty, but even the most desolate (Englewood, Austin) are no where near this level of abandonment. Part of that is population, Detroit has been hemorrhaging people for decades. Though given the recent uptick is shootings, massive city cutbacks to services and plans to wipe out whole neighborhoods with the Olympics, Chicago could start losing people too.

    I live in a city where the Mayor spent billions gussying up a park downtown while his family stole millions from the streets and sanitation department. And he's still mayor. There's not a steady hand at the wheel.
    • CommentAuthor/
    • CommentTimeJul 31st 2009
     (6477.6)
    So...I don't mean to sidestep what you just said. I'm not good with all the political stuff.
    If I took a camera into the worst part of my town, would you watch the film?

    I'm not saying that I'll do it. I'm just saying that I'm thinking about it. Somebody needs to, y'know?
  3.  (6477.7)
    @sleepless_criminal
    I'd probably watch the film. I mean, I'd watch it but I'd hope that it was more than a kind of voyeuristic "these people sure are different" kind of thing. Better to take the time to get to know them, give them a chance to explain themselves. Dark Days is an excellent example of this kind of documentary.

    @orwells_eyes
    Detroit fascinates me. It's driving distance from where I'm about to move, and I'm hoping to go there before Fall.

    I was in Thailand on business a little while ago. In 1997, there was a real-estate bubble, fuelled by currency speculation. When the currency crashed, it took the real-estate market with it and thousands of building projects halted mid-construction. 12 years later, the abandoned husks remain, slowly being eaten by the jungle.

    Scars of the Boom 4

    Bruce Sterling is obsessed with this stuff. Here''s an article he did recently.
    • CommentAuthor/
    • CommentTimeAug 5th 2009 edited
     (6477.8)
    @ doingitwrong - I really like that picture of the abandoned building. It probably turned out to be more visually impressive than the designers intended.

    This "City Gone Feral" notion makes me think of behaviors in urban areas more than it does the buildings or economics involved. It reminds me of the time I saw a dumpster set on fire in the parking lot of an apartment complex, with the community gathered around drinking as if it were a bonfire celebration. Or the night that I saw a couple of kids getting out of and running away from an expensive sports car that was resting on its roof with the wheels still turning.

    The entire city hasn't gone this way, of course; hell, they film the Country Music Awards a few miles away from where I've seen these things take place. I used to drive through the worst parts of Nashville late at night and watch these things happen, because it's a side of society that fascinates me and makes me wonder how far we "civilized" people are from it. I've come to believe that the dividing line isn't really as wide as it seems.

    As far as my impulsive little idea of filming this stuff, like I said earlier, I've gotten to know that side of town well enough to understand that the locals wouldn't appreciate being put on camera. It would work better for me to use those observations as an inspiration for something fictional, I think.
    •  
      CommentAuthorbjacques
    • CommentTimeAug 6th 2009
     (6477.9)
    NASA-Johnson Space Center lies 3 miles east of Interstate-45 between Houston and Galveston. The old NASA Rd 1 starts at the freeway, skirts Clear Lake and meets Galveston Bay at Seabrook. Halfway down the road, next to the tiny town of El Lago, is a finger-like extension of Pasadena, fabled metropolis of oil refineries and storage tanks, but you wouldn't know it to look at the Clear Lake end. The Pasadena cops do, so keep a close watch on the speed limit signs and don't panic if a squad car tailgates you for the mile or so you're inside the Pasadena city limit. They're just running your plates and hoping to panic you into going a mile over the speed limit running a yellow light.

    In 2008, at the height of the real-estate boom, of course, some developers put up a 30-story condo tower called Endeavour, with units selling at $400,000 and up. It's the tallest building in the Bay Area, and they were going to put up four just like it, with more development planned for the area.

    Fast forward to Jun 2009, and the building is in bankruptcy, with just under half of the units sold. The land destined for the other towers has already been sold.

    The Houston Chronicle carried the story (the comments are worth a read).

    Though 36 of the 80 units were sold, chances are the place is more deserted than the numbers would imply. It's a good bet that a lot of sales were to speculators or flippers who never planned to move in at all. The Houston Architecture forum had a discussion over the place.

    The building claimed a human sacrifice, a worker who fell to his death. Also, a resident nearly died of a heart attack because the semicircular drive wasn't wide enough for an ambulance.

    There are lots of places like this, but it's where I grew up, and Endeavour really warped the landscape of my youth.
  4.  (6477.10)
    • CommentAuthorFinleigh
    • CommentTimeAug 6th 2009
     (6477.11)
    It's easy to forget that every time we slog behind a lawnmower or pull up weeds and put pavers down all we're doing is pushing the "environment"- that everyone talks about like it's as fragile as an eggshell- back a few yards; for a few days at most. Your yard wants to eat your house. All the time.
  5.  (6477.12)
    here´s the local version of a city gone feral...

    Crisis – Photos From The Icelandic Ruins
    These are normally not the neighborhoods tourists get to see and because they are the newest ones, many Icelanders haven’t ventured there yet. After a drive around the Vatnsendi neighborhood in Kopavogur earlier this spring, a friend and I got a sinking feeling as we saw with our own eyes how big Iceland’s problems really are.


    Here are a couple of pics...




    Oh Reykjavik as a city will recover. Already artists and actiivists are taking over disused buildings downtown and changing them beyond all recognition. However there are going to be large swathes of the outskirts that will be like apocalytic bomb sites for at least the next decade.....
    •  
      CommentAuthorwater
    • CommentTimeAug 7th 2009
     (6477.13)
    that is amazing!
    would love to explore that...
    • CommentAuthorlooneynerd
    • CommentTimeAug 7th 2009 edited
     (6477.14)


    There are a lot of Ghost Cities and Towns across China; they're good at building major mining centers, rapidly depleting all of the local resources, and abandoning the places when it becomes to costly to supply them. These are a bit of the opposite though; local resources have been exploited so heavily and rapidly, that the local area quickly becomes like desert, and pollution is so bad that a grey-black coat covers up pretty much everything. So bad in fact, that local wildlife is either killed or migrates away, and it makes the former area literal ghost towns; nothing of note survives there except perhaps a few minor pests and very hardy weeds.

    Another neat one is this:

    Kolmanskop in Namibia. When the local mines began shutting down, the town was abandoned, sometime in the 1950s. Now it's being over-taken by a wilderness of a different sort...
  6.  (6477.15)
    This is rapidly becoming my favourite White Chapel thread. If you happen to be in Ontario, here's a list of ghost towns that you might want to visit. Some friends and I mounted an ill-conceived expedition to visit a few of these but only managed to find one abandoned church-housing area.
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      CommentAuthorGekko
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2009 edited
     (6477.16)
    @orwells_eyes
    Thank you. Me and my better half we are fascinated Detroit for her economical and social history; and this picture is awesome.
    • CommentAuthorRyan C
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2009
     (6477.17)
    I travel to Detroit here and there and will drive around at night (a few clients recommend areas that are desolate) but my point and shoot is not good at night. Anyway, I am shocked that a film maker does not shoot a post apocalyptic film in some of these areas. It would be low cost and very striking.

    Streets and buildings are bad example of civilized in my book. It's like calling a guy in a suit a professional.
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      CommentAuthorallana
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2009
     (6477.18)
    @doingitwrong, my friends and i are trying to make a habit of stopping at every abandoned house we see along the roads and highways in Ontario. there are tons of photos on my flickr. but heading to specific ghost towns isn't something i've tried, yet.
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      CommentAuthorLBA
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2009
     (6477.19)
    @icelandbob

    thanks for those pictures, very interesting
    •  
      CommentAuthorSonny
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2009
     (6477.20)
    This thread reminds me of the great 2007 Alan Weisman book called The World Without Us. That book, and these very topics ya'll are discussing here, inspired a recent Short Story of mine actually; these things have been running through my head lately. It's very interesting, and amazing how quickly nature can snatch back the territory we've developed.

    Hit Detroit Blog.org or Forgotten Detroit for more information, perspective, and pictures (though they're investigating this more from a cultural stand-point).