the best thing I can say about these european and new york-based photographers is that some of them support the local economy by throwing a couple hundred dollars at the poor saps who show them around for a few weeks and help guard their hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cameras and equipment. sometimes the local urban explorer types help them for free, and then these guys go back to paris or NYC and sell books or huge prints for thousands of dollars.

as far as new ruins, we have them (these big photographers with the fancy connections didn’t document them) but grand buildings like the Eastown Theater University Club have already been gutted (and documented thoroughly by amateurs) and newly abandoned skyscrapers like The Book Tower and the David Stott Tower have become “new ruins.”

For years I’ve been advocating the idea that the city should do far more to encourage the sort of ruin tourism we get. Unfortunately that talk injures the pride of most civic boosters (many of whom live in the suburbs) and it rarely gets anywhere. I’ve been trying to get a meeting with the tourism and convention bureau for years (and finally made a connection with someone there at a party recently. The remarkable thing about Detroit is that in many cases these amazing ruins exist alongside the sort of amenities you’d expect from one of America’s largest cities (good restaurants, 4-star hotels, amazing museums, sporting events, outdoor art, bike paths, etc.) as well as things you never get in big cities, like actual nature and working farms. It’s a pretty incredible place to be, and if anyone is ever interested in visiting I wrote a pretty thorough guide over at design sponge, here).

I say the French and NYC photographers are welcome, but they should understand they are tourists here treading the same paths as a lot of others. A picture of our ruined train station is now about as unique as a picture of the Parthenon, and I think it’s actually pretty interesting that these pictures continue to be as compelling as they are.

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