Packard: 2007, Part A

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I am somewhat sad to say that beginning with these three Packard posts for 2007, there will not be as much storytelling, reciting of historical factoids, or verbose pontification as previous posts, since I pretty much exhausted my storehouse of that stuff. So the subsequent posts will mainly be a slideshow of my old photos, along with incidental commentary and description of what is shown. 

We seemed to sense by summer of 2007 that the plant might not be around forever, and that prompted us to not only make more visits, but to photograph more closely, as things seemed to be changing suddenly at the old Packard. Little did we know, its decay and debauchery had only just begun, but yet the Packard would still be standing well over a decade later.

As you can see the Boulevard Bridge has been roller tagged, and some more windows are missing.

Yes, even the Packard Plant had a Heidelberg Dot:

1907 was the year Building 13 was built:

It was still a tingly feeling to approach it, but we finally got to see the entrance gate up close:

But with the guards *officially* gone, we could start checking out all the single-story shed-type buildings that were only accessible before without going outside...

Let the games begin!

Taking these pictures was like being a big-game hunter posing with his fallen trophy; as if we had finally triumphed over the guards, and now had the ability to see the unseeable...

 Building 5 looms almost like a skyscraper...

The vast rubble fields where Buildings 7, 8, 9, and 23 had been illegally demolished by the city:

Damn, not even Duggan was this sloppy at demolition...

Look close; the guards even had a basketball hoop set up in there:

So this whole day was dedicated to walking around outside in the area that had previously been under the direct supervision of the guards, an area that we had looked at from inside the buildings for years but had never been able to tread upon with felt strange, like being on the other side of a mirror. 

The first order of business was taking a more thorough look inside Court 1...

We had been in here before, as I wrote about that time when we had snooped behind the guards' back to look at the stash of old blueprints, but now we could do it without having to be super-stealth. Still lots of junk to rifle through.

Looking back the way we came in:

Hole in the roof:

Building 82, with its severed bridge that once led to Building 8...

...It's as if Building 82 existed in another dimension, a strange one where everything wasn't in a state of complete and perpetual ruins. It didn't really seem like part of the Packard.

Now checking out Court 4, I think:

Don't remember offhand where this next shot was, other than ground level somewhere towards the north end:

Entering Court 10:

Finally got to see the north water tower from underneath:

Somewhat strangely, its support legs do not go all the way to the ground; it is floating on top of the trusses of Court 10. You can also see the bottom of a bridge across the court roof:

And that's the spot where the 1946 Plymouth used to be:

Vergara was standing almost in that exact spot when he took the cover photo for his seminal book American Ruins (at least for the edition I have).

I'm not sure why I don't yet have any photos from inside the tunnels to post, since I was positive I had delved into them by 2007, but here is a tunnel entrance for you to ponder, on Building 23:

The naked foundations of the demolished buildings were strange to behold so plainly, after having visited the dank basement levels of the other intact buildings.

Wooden window sashes still predominated in a lot of the plant's north end...

...makes you wonder who was in charge of constantly painting and reglazing those things for them to have stayed in service this long.

An old VOMIT tag on Court 17:

Here comes Court 19, nestled between Buildings 21 (left) and 19 (right):

Note the painted sign that says "RAMP ACCESS" near the gaping entrance of Building 21...the other sign says "Weight Limit 15,000 Pounds":

This terrible maw belongs to Court 19, once the final inspection part of the Packard assembly line:

Looking back south:

There was an old tractor trailer sitting there:

Naturally tagged by all the usual suspects. 

The northern extreme of the plant was the most modern portion of the north end, built in the 1920s, and sported steel sash windows as opposed to the wooden ones seen earlier:

I know you'll be shocked to learn that this tractor trailer was eventually...cut up for scrap. 

Huddled masses of concrete buildings, yearning to be explored...

Notice the address of 1586 over this doorway...interestingly, that's a Boulevard address, not a Concord one:

Time to enter the ramps:

It might be worth noting that the ramps didn't always used to be open like this either; there used to be a heavy steel roll-down door that prevented vehicle access from the ground level...

...but, as you may have guessed, someone eventually remedied that little situation...using a tow-chain and a Jeep.

The skyline over Building 84: 

For some reason this floor of Building 21 was always heavily flooded:

Splattball City and their moldy sawdust-covered floors...

I suppose it was to provide some level of safety for paintball players instead of running around on a hard concrete floor, but once the roof started leaking and soaking the sawdust, it started to get pretty funky.

One thing they also had a lot of (besides pallets) was wasn't long before we put 2 and 2 together and realized that the spools could be rolled down the Ramps like a ski-jump, or some episode of Beavis & Butthead...

A sailboat hull:

The Ramps, looking around the corner:

And here we go with the spools...we wheeled them up from Splattball City and then rolled them down the ramp...where they slammed into the wall and eventually caused the steel window sash to come loose and fall off the building. Then we got the spools to fly right out the open window after rolling down the ramp.

Trust me, those MF's were heavy as hell, and rolling them uphill was not easy. Some mistakes were made...

Oh look, we already got one caught on the ledge:

"Damn nailhed, why you so destructive?!" Hey, even us buttoned-down oxford cloth scholars occasionally succumb to giddy moments of anarchy and sweaty bacchanalia...but when we do it, it's usually called art.

The creepy Batman-looking roof monitor of Court 19:

Another boat...

Packard Avenue was still looking pretty clean back in 2007:

It didn't take much longer for that to change.

The Packard used to be covered in these steel chimneys, all gone now:

Even these were made of reinforced concrete:

There's Ryan, the tire toss champion:

For full disclosure, he also survived falling four stories down an elevator shaft in the Hotel Fort Wayne. I'm not shitting you, this kid was a god damn phenomenon.

This was the Chris Craft that I mentioned in earlier posts. It was sitting in Building 21. Now I know what you're thinking...did it go out the window?

Here's a series of photos from a winter trip...

This stairway in the southeast corner of Building 92 was rarely I recall most of the doors were either stuck shut or welded shut (especially at ground level), and there wasn't much call to go in this stairway anyway, since the other two were quite adequate for the explorer's purposes. But I found it interesting because of its huge windows, and relative intactness.

Looking out across Building 39:

The fact that no explorers ever used this stairway was illustrated by the great height of the mountains of pigeon feces piled up near the top. Without any disruptions they were able to steadily keep sh*tting in the same spot, all day every day, apparently only leaving to go eat more so they can keep sh*tting:

Yes, this is a mountain of very neatly-stacked bird shit. Which I stuck my camera lens up close to, and took a picture. I can still smell it...

Ok let's go before I throw up.

Welcome to the ice palace...Building 92 was so open to the elements that it always had a solid sheen of ice across its floors in the winter. I've even been in there on days when the snow was flying horizontally in through one side of the building and out the windows on the other.

Big surprise, it was the first one to collapse. Here is where it started:

Speaking of the beginnings of ends, here is Building 39's roof starting to give up:

The Bellevue Bridge is still fully intact however:


A closer look at the collapse of Building 92 reveals that it is totally fizclucked...

Note Building 5 / "The Pyramid" visible through the window in the distance:

Sure why not, let's go up on top of that shit.

The railroad side, and Building 92A:

For some reason the elevator penthouse was extra tall on Building 92:

Descending the stairs.

Looking north.

Michigan Intensifies...

Looking across the sheds of Building 34: 

For some reason I can't remember where this one was might be the ground floor of Building 34:

Here's four more boats that just happened to be chilling out in Building 28:

Sadly they were already on ground level and thus could not be defenestrated.

The parking lot between Building 28 and 31:

This is the top floor of Building 27, looking at Building 28...

...You might remember that the Palmer Avenue bridge was walled-off on this floor, and if you wanted to go through you had to duck through that hole in the cinder blocks seen in the distance of this next photo:

If I recall right, there was an old TRTL tag next to it on the other side, and a fiberglass boat.

Rummaging around in Building 27.

A view of the Boulevard Bridge from Building 27:

Building 28 seen from Building 27:

The office wing seen from across the Boulevard:

Now let's go visit Building 11...

Remember, this is the spot with the roof that allowed you to cross between Buildings 11 & 12 and Buildings 2 & 3.

It was a useful shortcut to The Pyramid if you climbed out a window. The roof disappeared during the great scrapping epidemic of the late-2000s when its trusses were cut down and stolen, leaving an open chasm between these buildings.

Looking north:

Looking back at Building 11-12, with the large covered conveyor on its roof:

Looking south:

Ducking into Building 3...

From Building 2, staring across "The Canyon," with Building 82 in the background:

Not sure where this one was taken...I kind of feel like it might be near the cafeteria in Building 13:

Walking north along the main corridor from Building 12 to Building 11:

Back in Building 11 here is an example of an older brick-infilled portion of wall, looking through the fire door into Building 10:

The light fixtures had already started to come down and walk away:

I also remember the sliding fire doors were still functional, as in you could close the door to this corridor if you wanted to.

This room overlooked Court 10:

This must have been Building 15 (again, viewed from the main corridor of Building 11):

You may recall that this collapsed section of Building 15 we called the "Tire Toss"...

Is there anything more "Detroit" than a game where you toss old tires into a caved-in portion of an old auto manufacturing plant? I guess playing ice hockey in the frozen basement of an abandoned post office might rank up there...

Wow, look at all those intact sprinkler pipes still on the ceiling:

If I remember right, that photo was near the spot where the floor was all warped up like waves on a wooden lake...which would make it near the top floor of Building 11.

I took photos like this next one because it communicated the feeling of clutteredness or obfuscation that you got from the Packard in a lot of ways; so many areas were so barricaded against either vandalism or the elements, that you had multiple layers of protection in any one spot, all of them decayed, dirty, and broken down, and ultimately looking like this:

Another fire door to the left, from Building 11 to Building 15, with  Building 16 straight ahead:

Dang, this was a pretty clean spot...perhaps Building 3?

Okay maybe I did actually take some photos of good graffiti once in awhile...

I think we actually ran into LOAF and KOSEK while painting that day (in a different spot), and smoked with them for a minute. This is in Building 16, with Building 18 ahead:

Here's another of those abstract Packard photos, showing the dirty panes looking out on Court 19:

Court 19's distinctive "M" monitor:

Looking down onto a smaller skylight in Court 19:

I loved the way that the sunlight could make the Packard's walls of windows look sometimes:

Back to The Ramps...also known as Building 21:

Looking out from the Ramps to Building 82 in the distance:

You can also see plenty of saplings had taken root in the rubble piles left behind from the demolition of Building 23.

Graffiti in Building 21:

True story, I got in a fistfight with a dude in this spot once, some big guy from New Jersey. Not really sure who won (there are conflicting reports lol), but it ended on the ground with us wrestling around in the broken glass on the floor before people stepped in to break it up. 

...Just another night at the Packard.

I'm glad we shook hands afterward, because I heard the dude ended up dying a few years later after rolling his truck down a mountainside in Oregon...

Top of the Ramps.

View south across Building 19, with the northern watertower:

Court 19 and a warm winter sunset.

That good "magic hour" light at the Packard starts taking shape...

You can see it trickling through the innards of the "Pyramid Building" in warm orange spills across the support columns:


Everybody took this shot at some point.

New Center skyline from the roof of Building 21:

Hamtramck...and even some of the tall buildings in the suburbs of Troy and Southfield on the horizon:

We'd throw our empty 40oz bottles down the top of this vent stack, because it was fun to hear them smash about halfway down, and then listen to the strange echoes of the glass shards continue to jingle their way down the rest of the pipe as they got further and further away: wasn't just wanton vandalism, it was scientific study of audial redshift phenomenon. Our findings were published and are on file at U of M.

Climbing the stairs into the tall elevator penthouse on Building 21 offered a pretty great view of the north end and its surroundings...

The black skyscraper in the distance at left is the Nine Mile Tower in St. Clair Shores, a familiar landmark to mariners such as myself:

You can see a bunch of tire tracks in the gravel up here from people driving cars up onto the roof:

This used to be the designated parking area for Splattball City.

A nice full view of Building 84 before it became another popular graffiti wall, when suitable space ran out inside the plant:

The I-94 trench and the Gemmer Steering Gear Plant:

The vast GM Poletown Assembly Plant is visible in the background.

The round corner at lower left belongs to Building 84, which was partially demolished when the freeway was built:

Building 84 again:

Overlooking the lower portion of Building 22:

Building 22 sure is different than the rest of the plant:


Between Buildings 21 and 19, top floor...

...these fire doors led into Building 18:

This was all part of Splattball, in Building 16 and / or 18...

Here's one of the hooches that were part of the Splattball course:

At dusk, the illuminated "Golden Tower" of the Fisher Building is seen, through the windows on the other end of Building 21:

There were HUGE stacks of pallets in that I recall there was also a massive stockpile of old VHS videotape, still on pallets, also stored in that end of the building. I'm talking at least a truckload.

Night falls on the East Side.

Click here to go to Part B

1 comment:

  1. Crazy how 1/4th of the plant was torn down between 2019-2020. Building 39 was always my favorite because of how weird it looked.