Frequently Asked Questions

What is Detroiturbex.com?

Detroiturbex.com is a website dedicated to documenting the past, present and future of the City of Detroit.

What is “urbex?”

From Wikipedia: Urban exploration (often shortened as urbex or UE) is the exploration of man-made structures, usually abandoned ruins or not usually seen components of the man-made environment.

Why Detroit?

While many of American’s industrial cities have experienced loss of jobs and population, few have lost as much as Detroit did between the 1950’s and today.

What happened to Detroit?

There is no simple answer. Detroit grew rapidly between 1910 and 1940, thanks in part to its many auto factories and other industrial jobs. When these factories began to leave the city in the 1950’s for the suburbs and nearby states, the jobs and population went with them. In the decades since, the city has been trapped in a cycle of residents leaving, loss of tax revenue, cuts to city services, and decay.

So why focus on Detroit instead of other rust belt cities?

Because the sheer scale of population loss and decay Detroit has experienced is unlike that of any other city in America, and its still happening.

Why abandoned buildings?

Exploring and researching abandoned homes, schools, churches, and hospitals is one way to examine and understand the complicated history of the city. Buildings are what is left of the social bonds that tied together people, neighborhoods, and the city.

Is what you’re doing trespassing?

Yes. Most of the time.*

*There are some locations where we have been granted permission to photograph a building by its owner, but this is the exception rather than the norm.

Isn’t trespassing illegal?

Yes.

So how do you justify doing something illegal?

It comes down to a matter of value versus harm. If we can document a noteworthy location (value) without breaking in, stealing things, or vandalizing the building (harm), is it worth doing?

Is what you’re doing “ruin porn?”

The goal of this website is not to aestheticize ruins, but to document them. That’s why we focus on historic photos, facts, and narratives about these locations.

Can you tell me where a particular building is, and how to get in?

Most of the locations on this website are already well known, and can be found easily enough with a quick Google search.

Why don’t you just save me the trouble and tell me?

Discovering is half the fun.

Your site says you offer tours. Who in their right mind would pay money to do something they can do for free?

We no longer offer tours, but can refer you to someone who does.

Are the pictures on the website for sale? Can I buy prints?

We no longer offer prints for sale, though from time to time they are available through charitable organizations. Follow our Facebook page for details.

Who took the pictures on the website?

The photographers are anonymous.

Why? Are you afraid you’ll get caught?

No.

Because of all the illegal things you’ve plainly done?

No.

Then why?

Because we believe that the focus of attention should be on the subject matter – Detroit – and not who took the pictures.

Detroiturbex, you ruined Detroit.

In our defense, the city was like this when we got here.

 

We welcome all feedback.