Most Detroiters know of the abandoned Historic Packard Automotive plant of the city’s eastside. It’s a massive structure that spans about a half mile from end to end. In some sections it stands six-stories tall, with the total footprint encompassing 3.5 million square feet. It was designed by Albert Kahn in the early 1900s. Kahn was Detroit’s premier industrial architect of the early 20th Century. Among other things, he is known for developing the reinforced concrete system of building construction. That system replaced wood timbers that were currently in use at that time. The Packard plant was the first to use the new concrete method, making the factory almost indestructible.
The plant closed in the late 1950s and since then, it has deteriorated beyond repair and is considered unsafe to enter. Scrappers have cut out many of the steel supports and other metals rendering the massive abandoned auto plant a dangerous place to enter. In many sections, it is so structurally unsafe that the Detroit Fire Department will no longer enter the building to fight fires that seem to occur there on a regular basis. However, that hasn’t stopped urban explorers from checking out the ruins or graffiti artists from creating interesting, eye-popping art within the building.
There is a tremendous amount of colorful graffiti found throughout the derelict facility. Some of it is in areas you’d least expect; behind doors that are barely hanging on their hinges; on cement barriers put in place to keep cars out; and on steep stairway walls. Boats and trucks that have been dumped in the building are covered with it, and many pieces can be seen on the exterior close to the upper reaches of the top floors.
Within the engaging urban grittiness of the place, which reminds me of the powerful, post-apocalyptic novel and movie “The Road”, there is an incredible array of mind-boggling wall art that graffiti artists have put up. There are also some interesting sayings spray-painted on many of the battered walls. Some make no sense, like ancient hieroglyphics. Others are barely legible and seem to fade into the damp, cement walls. Occasionally, quotes from famous people appear out of nowhere. Here are just a few of the many sayings that I’ve spotted while checking out the place. Looking at them, I wonder why people painted them on the old factory walls.