Thursday, September 11, 2014

Decay in Pontiac, Michigan

Pontiac is one of many industrial cities in Michigan that has seen more prosperous days and is struggling to revive itself. It is not nearly as dilapidated as Detroit or Flint, but it has poverty, abandoned houses, crime, and other social ills that plague cities with diminishing tax bases and flight of wealthier residents to other communities. I only had a short time to explore and want to share some photographs.
This is the view looking west from the 4th floor of the Masonic Temple on Lafayette Street. Not too cheerful.
This is the First Baptist Church at the junction of Oakland and Lafayette Streets. The building is no longer used as a church, and I am not sure what the sign "Edifice 34" means.
The church reflects a modified Art Deco aesthetic, with brickwork leading the eye upwards. The building was built to last and appears to be sound.
Interesting doors with a porthole motif. Some sort of transom has been removed. You can see the outline of a Salvation Army logo on the black metal.
Salvation Army and possibly the Red Cross have used the facility, but I could not tell if there is current activity. It was locked on a Tuesday morning.
Unfortunately, there are homeless people.
I headed out of town on North Perry Street. It was a mixture of nice little cottages and units marked for demolition. These traditional apartments looked clean from a distance.
Consumers Power on Featherstone Road was demolishing their office building. It was a fairly modern unit, so I am not sure what this is all about.
Finally, we get to the condemned and infamous Silverdome at 1200 Featherstone Road. Built in 1975, it was home to the National Football League's Detroit Lions. The city of Pontiac built the 80,000-seat Silverdome for $55.7 million but it sold at auction in November 2009 for $583,000. They never followed through in the 1970s with other tourist attractions or local revitalization. The dome was refurbished and some events were held there in 2010, but the roof collapsed in a snowstorm December 2012. My friend and I tried to get into the site, but it was secured. I am sure local urban spelunkers know how to get access. Anyway, it is a mess and a company is auctioning all the contents, including seats and urinals. Just what I want in my souvenir collection.
If you pay attention to the media, you would think Michigan is a total and utter mess, with every town imploding like Detroit or Flint. But the reality is much different. Michigan is full of nice towns with friendly and energetic people. My friend lives in Brighton, and I was surprised how clean and neat it was, with an old-fashioned downtown featuring good restaurants and specialty shops. I could not resist photographing this Coney Joes shack.
Even more surprising, on summer evenings, the teenagers dance! It was a clean-cut crowd, and they called me "Sir," and were having a good time. If I were a few decades younger, I could have showed them how to cha-cha.

Photographs taken with a Fujifilm X-E1 digital camera, with RAW files processed in PhotoNinja, or with a Nexus 4 telephone.


  1. Apparently, Edifice 34 was the name of a company established in 2012 that used the building. Edifice means large, imposing building, which this certainly is! I love the building, and I shall make arrangements post haste to move up there and open a school in it--one that nurtures critical thinking, encourages inclusion, and we will need a photography class, so let me know when you are available.

    On the other hand, I have not cha-cha'd since maybe the late 70s? I still could, just don't get much occasion, so I bet you still could, too! Love that park where they are dancing!

  2. Ediface 34: This sign, currently covered with advertising for Erebus, means nothing more than this was the 34th ediface or building built in Pontiac.


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