Profiting from Detroit’s despair
Detroit’s economic decline has led to a strange sort of tourism. Photographers focused on the city’s worn-down buildings and broken infrastructure have prompted guides to give tours of the urban decay.
He’d heard stories of ruin and blight, but that didn’t prepare Oliver Kearney for what he saw:
Prostitutes roaming the streets at 8 a.m., rubble-strewn parking lots overrun with weeds, buildings taken over by bright pink graffiti, the message scrawled on blackboards in deserted schools: “I will not write in vacant buildings.”
He took 2,000 photographs his first day.
But these tours frequently break trespassing laws, and residents are condemning the photographic forays:
"The decay is not cool, not arty-farty," Jean Vortkamp, a community activist and onetime mayoral candidate, said in an email.
"I see the lady with bags and three layers of clothes on, and then I see a group of white young people climb out of their dad’s cars with cameras that are worth so much."
Read reporter Alana Semuels’ whole story right here.
Photos: Alana Semuels / Los Angeles Times