Thought people were over Detroit ruin porn? Think again.

June 05, 2019, 1:14 PM

By Oona Friedland

In a YouTube Video released last week titled, “America’s Most Abandoned Detroit Michigan,” a group of self-described UrbExers, or Urban Explorers, give another go at showing the world the tired images of the vacant Packard Plant and Cooley High School.

“We are in Detroit, the number one worst city in all of America,” an out-of-towner filming with a selfie stick tells an audience of 17,000 and counting.

The YouTube vlogger has travelled to about 40 different cities in the last two years filming videos of abandoned asylums. But he seems to be ten years too late to Detroit, where the “abandoned city” narrative is shifting as dilapidated buildings come down and a population decline slows.

While typical urban explorers take pride in the risk of discovering uncharted territory, the vlogger and his crew take the easy way out with a tour of familiar sites. It becomes apparent they've strayed far from the channel’s usual content of things like “ABANDONED AUTOPSY THEATER & INCINERATOR with CREMATED BONES” when the host says, inaccurately, that the Packard Plant went out of business due to international auto sales.

Though the story of Detroit’s economic decline since the Packard Plant’s heyday is much more complicated than that, you won’t find that context in these 28 minutes here.

“It’s absolutely amazing how poor this town is, and it is absolutely amazing at how much everything in this town is just going to shambles,” remarks the man in front of the camera.

While the trope may be tired to locals, and presumably people who’ve read the national news since the recession, it apparently remains a novelty to some.

“Detroit looks depressing & cool at the same time. Be safe,” says one commenter.

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