Packard: 2007, Part C

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Now let's take a look inside some of those shed buildings in the south end of the plant. Buildings 40-50, and Al's Place:

New Center and Milwaukee Junction seen over Building 92A:

Inside there was more light than expected, thanks to these glass panels in the roof, even though they had been painted over at one point:

The swanky triangular sign in the photo above says "GRINDERS 11," most likely referring to a work station from back when this was a Packard metal shop.

Buildings 91 through 47 were a series of metal shed roofs all connected to each other in series, and opened into Building 92A at their rear:

Building 92A was a long, open craneway with a railroad spur running into it.

Back into Building 92:

And here we are on top of 92A again...

Looking into 92A through the roof monitor:

Looking down:

Looking north along the train tracks past Palmer Avenue:

Buildings 33 and 32:

Close-up of Building 33:

Bridge from Building 32 to 31:

Steel window sash melted from a fire:

We rarely went up very high in Building 92, because we knew that there wasn't really anything in the whole building, and we usually just took the Bellevue Bridge to the rest of the plant and kept it movin. But as the roof collapse became more dramatic and surreal, we went up there to check it out. As one of the tallest buildings in the complex, it definitely had a good view as well. In fact, this was the *second* spot to begin collapsing...

Seems like a logical enough place for graffiti...

By some strange fluke it wasn't until 2007 that I discovered the pile of old unused Stroh's beer crates laying around on like the 5th or 6th floor of Building 92. I just so happened to be a modern Stroh's drinker:

Even more roof damage to Building 39:

An elevator shaft in Building 38:

Upper floor of Buildings 38 and 37:

Traveling north down the main corridor, looking left into Building 37:

Building 35's top floor:

Blown up toilet:

Wow...I'm looking at this screened area in the next photo and I vaguely remember it, but it's one of those sublime reminders of how much you forget:

Building 35 seen from Building 32:

Now in Building 33, we are looking out the window at the legs of the southern water tower:

It is possible, and even preferable to climb the water tower by reaching out the window and stepping onto one of the legs:

Here we go...

There is the double-decker bridge between Building 33 and 32:

Some of the windows on Building 32 have been replaced with acrylic panels:

Looking back at the window I popped out of:

And here we are at the first tier of cross braces:

If you think this is insane, just imagine being up here and being able to feel the whole structure move when the wind blows. Some of us enjoy this sort of thing. Looking east:

Not sure why I don't have any more photos from the top of the tower from that day, maybe my camera battery died? Here's one my buddy Tim took of me on the tower, at least:

Anyway, I do have some spectacular pictures I took from the top of the south water tower coming in 2009 or 2008. 

Here is the entrance to the bridge to Building 32:

Immediately at the other side is a stairwell:

I think one level down from this spot was totally dark in the stairwell, and it had a heavy security screen over the stairs up, but you could still squeeze through. If I remember right, a friend and I widened the opening at one point to make it easier to use the stairwell.

Going up to the roof, the fire door had been ripped from its hinges by The Hulk:

In 2007 I definitely started getting a little more artsy, or at least abstract, and began photographing macro details of the plant rather than just expansive landscape views:

On the third floor of Building 12, here's the spot where old exterior windows look into the enclosed portion known as Courts 2-11 and 2-12 on the map:

On the other side of the same corridor, all the windows were missing:

Standing on the second floor, a view from inside of the vast "Shoe Pit" area:

There is a walkway around the entire outside of the second floor, with the actual "pit" being an elongated opening running down the middle of the room (at left, above). 

You could cross it and enter Building 3 by using this double-decker bridge, in the center:

You can see that along the edge of the Shoe Pit was a series of railings to keep you from falling in:

I guess I found a way onto the catwalk...

A view from the catwalk that shows the size of the ceiling trusses; I can't understand why they were so beefy when there was just an empty roof space above them...

...Maybe Packard had a lot of weight hanging down from them, since I think this was the part of the assembly line where the car bodies were dropped down onto the chassis, through the hole in the second floor (ie, what we call the "Shoe Pit").

I can't remember why the floor over here at the north end of the Shoe Pit began to give way, or when it started happening for that matter:

...In fact I kinda forgot all about that until now. The strange silhouette you see in the background is the roof profile of the shed over Court 4:

This is the view from Building 11's third floor, looking across the double-decker bridge to Building 3:

A longer exposure photo lightens up the room a bit, as seen from the top level of the double-decker bridge:

...You can see the floors collapsing to the right in that shot, and the Shoe Pit directly below, still mostly covered by its ceiling tiles suspended from the many wires seen throughout the room.

Leading into Building 3, and continuing on to Building 5:

In Building 2, Looking across at Building 5:

Looks like something massive slid down the wall here:

This boat got burned one night when some of my New Jersey friends were in town...

We were down in the fallout shelter next to the Shoe Pit, and when we came back up there was a strange glow coming into the building from a doorway several yards away...we went back out there and the boat was engulfed in 20-foot high flames crackling in the silence of the night, and no one was around anywhere.

Look at all those wooden sashes still hanging in Building 1:

Staring straight through Building 5:

This hanging sign on Building 2 says "Rotor Electric Co." indicating one of the early tenants of the plant after Packard moved out:

A corner of Building 1, overlooking the rear of Building 13:

Standing on the roof over Court 2-11 looking north:

As you can see a lot more graffiti is starting to layer up on the walls:

The "Doorpanel Corridor" of Building 12 again, with one of the wooden boats picturesquely floating on top of the debris:

Besides all of the doorpanels, there was also a helluva lot of splintered wood:

Uh-oh...Mr. Boat fell out the window:

...and stuck into the roof of Court 2-12 like a dart!

Looking across at the Pyramid from Building 12:

Also known as Buildings 1, 2, 3, and 5:

Another visit to the "Skylight Room" on the top of Building 12:

A beautiful autumn day on the east side...

Stepping out onto the roof of Building 13, the office wing, here is a view of Building 1:

Ope—there is Mr. Boat again:

In a way, that boat's last flight signaled the beginning of the days of total mayhem at the Packard...after that, the plant began belching out all of its contents at an ever-increasing rate.

Bridge between Building 13 and Building 1:

Also known as the cafeteria bridge...

From the end of Building 13 there is a great view down the rest of the north end:

Another look back toward the Skylight Room:

Building 5:

I covered these few buildings on the other side of Grand Boulevard in another post:

The building with the fancy limestone details is Packard's Building 82.

Here we are at the extreme end of Building 13, looking back across the hole where Buildings 7-8-9 used to be:

Building 1:

Building 5:


Double decker bridge between Buildings 31 and 32, looking across Bellevue at Buildings 41 and 42:

Bridge was a little compromised...and there was a Chevy truck cab in there:

Wait, are you implying that this is not an acceptable truck cab storage space?

I think this may have been a transformer room in Building 3 at some point:

Night falls on the Canyon, between Buildings 4 and 5...

The Boulevard after dark:

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for 2008...eventually.


  1. Nailhed,

    Thanks for the heads-up about 2007 on the in the 2006 discussion.

    I've enjoyed the 2007 postings and it increased my interest in bldgs C2-11 and C2-12. For some time I've noticed that they are unique building type for the Packard (an oddity) there are not 1-story sheds and there not reinforced concrete bldgs. While they are in a court, but don't let in outside light like the 1-story sheds. Before I point to a very interesting photo I found at the Detroit Historical Society, I'll state another thing I'm quite convinced of now. When the Plant was the Packard factory I don't think any of the 8 in high gray block, (I've always called them cinder blocks) walls were there. Many have been painted but the blocks were gray to begin with. I believe they were all added when Packard Properties Inc. subdivided the plant for leasing. I'll have more on this in another comment.

    So I found a picture of assembly line production that almost assuredly was taken in either C2-11 or C-12 ( Detroit Historical Society item 2014.050.493). I don't know if you've ever seen the photos but it is very informative

    If you look at the picture you will note that the block walls that nicely made C2-11 and C2-12 rectangular parallelepipeds when you took your pictures aren't there. In fact, the effective width of the space is different on the 1st and 2nd floors. Also you can see many of the features you show and discuss in your posting.

    Bill H.

    1. Bill,
      Yes, I have seen the DHS photos of the assembly line you speak of, and I thought the same thing. Courts 2-11 and 2-12 aren't really buildings, but a covered span (using very substantial trusses) between buildings that was definitely added in the latter half of the 20th century. They show up on the physical copy of the Sanborn books in the DPL Main branch, which were kept updated through the 1950s at least. As you will see in 2008 photos and later, 2-11 and 2-12 ceased to exist thanks to scrappers, and you could see the Packard as it was in the early days.

      I agree that many of the cinderblock walls were added by Packard Properties Inc. for tenant subdividing.

  2. I believe that the Chev truck cab is from a company named Arrow Uniform that had a lease at that site in the 90's & early 2000's.


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