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Detroit's Art Deco Masterpiece, Like Its City, Is Poised for Reinvention

When you Google "Detroit," one of the first hits you get includes the description "post-apocalyptic." Low Winter Sun, a particularly terrible cable drama set in the Motor City, used a steady scroll of burned, broken houses to represent Detroit in its opening credits. A recent book, The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit, offers images of a city dying one vacant, wounded building at a time. But this isn't the real story, or at least not the current one, or the most complete. Detroit is home to some of the world's most beautiful buildings, both residential and commercial. The city has been chosen to represent the nation at the world's top architecture show, the Venice Biennale, this spring. People sometimes forget the city's history as a center for design and architecture, given the more usual public idea of Detroit as a broken city, ruined by poverty, crime, and corruption. Detroit has three centuries of history, though, including a golden age of architecture perfectly represented by one soaring structure, the Fisher Building.

The building sold at auction this summer >>