Thursday, July 16, 2015

(Photos) Detroit's abandoned Fisher Body 21 plant

One of Detroit's largest abandoned factories is the former Fisher Body 21 plant on Piquette Avenue near Midtown. As it's easily visible from two interstate highways, the Albert Kahn-designed building in a prominent reminder of the decline of Detroit.

Fisher Body, formed in 1908, was originally an independent company that made coaches for automobile and carriage firms. It was acquired in stages from General Motors in 1919 and 1926. The factory also opened in 1919. For decades "Body by Fisher" logos were found in the interior of GM cars--but the division was phased out in the 1980s.

Walking inside abandoned buildings is risky. The collapsed second floor dominates this first floor shot. This was one of two buildings were I found someone in side--although the individual inside Fisher Body was about 50 yards away from me.

Outside the old factory a tour guide was explaining the history of the building to a group of German tourists. But they didn't go inside.

During World War II the 600,000 square foot plant concentrated on defense work. The post-war factory concentrated on stamping work for limousines, buses, and ambulances. By this time its height had to have been a disadvantage. Time is lost as work shifts from one floor to another--and elevators break down.

This is the sixth floor of the factory from its roof.

In 2008 asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), believed to be a carcinogen, were discovered at Fisher Body 21. It is considered "open and dangerous" by the city of Detroit.

Yes, there is squalor here.

Also on the roof I discovered some Chiraq graffiti. Does Mayor Rahm Emanuel know about this tag?

"Open and dangerous?" You betcha! Beneath the second pipe on the left is the Renaissance Center, which hosts the international headquarters of GM.

Here's another view from the roof. The taller building on the left is the Fisher Building, an art-deco masterpiece that was built by the Fisher family with funds from the sale of Fisher Body to GM. In the foreground of that skyscraper is Cadillac Place, formerly the General Motors Building--the auto giant's home before moving into the RenCen.

There is much sad irony in Detroit.

Cottonwood trees grow on the roof.

Broken glass and broken dreams--one last look at the Fisher Building, which has it own problems. It is in foreclosure. 

Once again the second floor meets the first floor.

After GM moved out Carter Color Paint used the plant for industrial painting. The firm filed for bankruptcy in 1993. The city of Detroit has owned Fisher Body 21 since 2000.

From my post at Da Tech Guy:

I walked its streets--the tragedy of Detroit.


Donald Douglas said...

Pretty fascinating, man.

RonV said...

All my great uncles worked at Fisher Body in Detroit. They used the build the frame and bodies down on Fort Street then cart them to the next plant down Fort to the final assembly where the engine and drive train would be installed. I remember family day's where we got to watch the cars being assembled. It's a shame to see a once great city in bad shape.

Bill Smith said...

Thanks for sharing photos. Interesting! Imagine, the City of Detroit is seeking interested developers to renovate the site, but as of yet there have been no takers. For just $300,000, one can own this bldg with a great view of a collapsing city. However, the Federal, State and City costs of democrat regulations would kill the investor.

Wonder why the city hasn't dropped the bldg and cleared the land which would then be worth more than $300K?

P.S. Why were you in Detroit? It sure isn't a vacation mecca :). If I have a story that can use a picture of city industrial blight, I will come back and grab one of your photos.

John Ruberry said...

Hello Bill! Glad you could drop in. To answer your question, I was in southwest Michigan already--near Kalamazoo--with Mrs Marathon Pundit and I had a few extra days to kill, so yes, I went to Detroit for a vacation. As for the pics, I've barely scratched the surface. Many more are coming.