Despite its various and sundry dangers, urban spelunking has become something of a rite of passage for adventuresome types living in and around Detroit. And while Corktown's legendary Michigan Central Station is probably illicit explorers' favorite quarry, the derelict 3.5-million square foot Packard Plant is likely a close second.

Built in 1903, the sprawling Albert Kahn factory complex hasn't churned out any Packard Motor Company vehicles since the plant was closed in 1958, and it's long been on the city's "To Do" list to force the plant's owners to raze the area. In fact, the city ordered the plant's leveling in April of last year.

According to The Detroit News, that long-in-coming demolition day appears to be close at hand, as the facility's purported owner (there has been much debate about who is actually responsible for the 40-acre complex), Dominic Cristini, says he plans to start the teardown process within a month and is working to obtain the necessary permits. According to the report, Cristini estimates it will take $6 million to tear down the Packard Plant, but he believes that recovered scrap metal will be enough to pay for the dismantling. Cristini further states that his crew may try to save historically significant portions of the facility if possible. It isn't immediately clear what – if anything – Cristini plans to do with the land once the Packard Plant's remains have been cleared.

For an eerily beautiful slideshow of the Packard Plant, check out Detroiturbex.com.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 36 Comments
      Pat
      • 2 Years Ago
      When I look at these images and the one of the train station, I am amazed at what the US has become vs. the perception millions of people have of the USA. What a shame!
        BG
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Pat
        You should see small towns in rural states like Mississippi - literally closing up and crumbling away. They had vibrant or at least active local economies as late as the 1960s or 1970s, and now, nothing. It's baffling. Even river towns like Greenville, Mississippi, are imploding. How can this be?
          Chris
          • 2 Years Ago
          @BG
          You're talking about the Deep South. It's generally always been poor, especially after slavery was abolished. Even the Upper South enjoyed more prosperity in the 20th century because they embraced industrialization more than the Deep South did. Many left the region during the Industrial Age for places like Detroit. As the Industrial Age has given way to the Information Age, cities like Detroit that refused to adapt struggled. Sadly, Detroit is in a sense those small towns in Mississippi you described, except on a much, much larger scale. Hopefully it will turn itself around, but that won't happen over night.
          Basil Exposition
          • 2 Years Ago
          @BG
          WAL*MART
          American Trucker
          • 2 Years Ago
          @BG
          The Poorest County in Mississippi used to be just south of Memphis, it was all sharecropper land with nothing but cotton fields and black or poor farmers....funny some Gambling Real estate company went around and quietly bought out all the land, and today Its one of the Souths premier places for Casinos....Ill bet they paid Pennys for the land,,,
      caddy-v
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's so sad to see how Detroit has deteriorated to the point of some third world country. What's even sadder is the lack of anyone shouting out at the top of their lunges how this should never happen in America. I'm not talking about just the Packard plant, it's the decay of a once great city. Anyone with any kind of power or authority should be making it a top priority to never allow this to happen anywhere within our borders and vow that within all their power to restore Detroit to it's former greatness. That is if he can get off the golf course and do his friggin job.
        ammca66564
        • 2 Years Ago
        @caddy-v
        I like to do a thought experiment: envision what would Detroit be like if the auto plants that have been built across the South in the last 20 years or so had been built in Michigan. VW, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, BMW, Subaru have all built plants here. Wouldn't it be great if they'd been built in Michigan? Wonder why they weren't?
          American Trucker
          • 2 Years Ago
          @ammca66564
          Someone in a Corporation with lots of money and power decided to back a law called RIGHT TO WORK, which effectively stunted the Unions, then the plants moved to these states and paid far less, with far less benefits, Insurance etc, and they called it Freedom, But its really ROBBERY, and GREED...they like to say the Union caused the downfall of America, when the Top 1% who get these 12 Million dollar Stock options becoming Millionaires and laying off and closing Plants. Now a Pension is a thing of the past, a LIFER job doesnt exist, you dont work and retire, you work and work and work, till your too old to work and they force you out and you have no pension.....ya Right to Work.....
          selder1958
          • 2 Years Ago
          @ammca66564
          Can you spell U-A-W ???
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      It would have made a great museum.
      ammca66564
      • 2 Years Ago
      There's a section of the plant - the oldest part, I believe - that was the first concrete frame filled in with brick and glass to produce an enclosed building. It's the first example of a type of building that has been replicated literally millions of times around the world. Also: I think the plant closed before '58 when the last Packard was built. A few years before that, Packards became trimmed up Studebakers built in the South Bend, Indiana Studebaker plant.
      averyvh225
      • 2 Years Ago
      Just came back from Detroit (Jan. 18th) from my trip to see the auto show again, the second year in a row I saw it and loved it, and this time around I was able to get pictures of the ol' packard plant and it was a sight to see, as well as the worlds largest abandoned building (the old trainstation) and although it made the city look bad, I will be sad to see it go when it comes time, especially when I come back in Jan 2013 to tour again, RIP packard plant :(
      Benny90
      • 2 Years Ago
      That is one very cool website. I enjoyed looking at all the excellent pictures. It is pretty damn sad to see all those once beautiful buildings in such a horrible state though. Like you mentioned the MCS gallery is excellent as well, thanks for the link.
        Drakkon
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Benny90
        If you look up on Time magazine, the have photo piece on Detroit. There was an abandon elementary school and the last day's lesson was still on the board. Spooky. It's like something out of an apocalyptic movie. I can't complain. I live in St Louis and we have stretches that you could mistake for Detroit.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        azeidy
        • 2 Years Ago
        it would cost ALOT more money to restore the buildings into safe condition than to just demolish them... especially with the condition they are in today
        Chris
        • 2 Years Ago
        Part of me agrees with you, then you have to consider what azeidy said about the state of the buildings' decay. I do agree on how the manage to screw things up though, as they knocked down Tiger Stadium, a national historic landmark opened in 1912, after it sat vacant and maintained by the city for 9 years. It would have made for a great redevelopment opportunity, but every proposal was rejected by the city who seemed hellbent on demolishing it. Over the past several years, the city has been on this mission to eliminate blight. So what do they do? Tear down historical landmarks!! Never mind the thousands of abandoned, burned out houses... It sucks. I agree, and would love to see this be restored, but unfortunately, the buildings have been sitting empty since the city's heyday, over 50 years ago.
        MrBeachBum
        • 2 Years Ago
        Yes they should reopen AutoWorld there!
      tributetodrive
      • 2 Years Ago
      great when do they raze the rest of the city?
        Chris
        • 2 Years Ago
        @tributetodrive
        I just knew it was only a matter of time before someone came on here and said that, but that's okay because I have a better idea!! Let's bulldoze your home town and see how you like it!! It's obvious by your remark that you have never been there, and only know what you hear in media soundbites, so why comment on something you know so little about?
      cadetgray
      • 2 Years Ago
      Back in the early 90s, I took my Grandfather (he owned a '48 and a '52) past the old plant and it was still pretty intact at that time. I don't recall seeing very many broken windows. It has been sad seeing the slow destruction and vandalism over the last 20 years to the plant that produced some of the finest cars ever made in this country. That plant also helped us win two world wars by building Liberty aircraft engines in WWI and Merlin aircraft engines for the potent P-51 Mustang fighter. Usually called a Rolls-Royce Merlin, Packard basically re-engineered the powerplant when the British company could not provide adequate blueprints in time. Also Packard marine engines were used in many PT boats serving in the Pacific theatre.
        ryan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @cadetgray
        That’s a lot of history im surprised know one trying to make a museum out of it.
      William
      • 2 Years Ago
      I guess the idea of converting it to a Volt is now out of the question.
      matteraycool
      • 2 Years Ago
      They stopped production in 1956 of Packards proper not '52. Packardbackers continued til "58 out of South Bend. Sorry to be pedantic, but I'm a bit of a Packard nut.
        artandcolour2010
        • 2 Years Ago
        @matteraycool
        Was just going to say the same thing. It's not being pedantic to expect the details to be correct on a blog specifically aimed at auto enthusiasts! I'm sorry to see anything designed by Albert Kahn razed, too.
        cadetgray
        • 2 Years Ago
        @matteraycool
        And the name wasn't removed from the corporation Studebaker-Packard until the spring of 1962. Pity such mistakes are made in this age of Wikipedia...LOL
      Brandon D
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here are a few more cool photos of the Packard Plant. It will be sad to see this structure go. http://www.flickr.com/photos/bpdphotography/sets/72157622508425767/
        warren r
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Brandon D
        I checked your pics. You got skilz brotha.
        BG
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Brandon D
        Those photographs on flickr are fantastic, congratulations. You have been brave to go there so many times. I love urban decay photography like this.
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