In 1950, Detroit was the fifth-largest city in America,
with a population of over 1.8 million. Today, that number has declined by over 1 million people, and the city now ranks 23rd in the country. As a result, there are tens of thousands of
abandoned homes, businesses, schools, and factories throughout the city. Over the next few episodes, we’ll be venturing into ruins all across the city to witness the decay firsthand. Join us as we see what’s left. [♫ theme music ♫] Thanks to Dollar Shave Club for sponsoring today’s video. Go to dollarshaveclub.com/properpeople to get your first starter set for just $5. In this episode, we’ll be focusing on the city’s abandoned car factories. Detroit was at the center of the rise of the automobile, and the automobile was central to the rise of Detroit. In 1913, Henry Ford opened his Highland Park Factory, the first in the world to use a moving assembly line. With this innovation, the automobile industry in Detroit exploded, and the city became its definitive manufacturing hub. People migrated to the city from all over the country to take advantage of its booming economy, bringing its population from 500,000 to 1.8 million in just four decades. And then, as quickly as Detroit’s population had climbed, it began to fall. With the passage of the Interstate Highway Act of 1956, cities all across America began to transform. Freeways bulldozed their way through low-income neighborhoods, and strangled off downtowns from their surrounding areas. [archival narrator] “In many areas, slums have been cleared to provide right-of-way for the construction of attractive modern expressways.” On these very highways, the middle class began to leave the city for a new auto-centric way of life in the suburbs. As a result, city demographics began to shift towards lower-income African-American families who couldn’t afford a car or a new suburban home. Even for Black families who could afford new homes, many developments had policies outright banning them from purchasing one. Seeing the trends, even more middle class families began to leave the city, and white flight was in full effect. The tax revenue provided by the remaining lower class was nowhere near enough to sustain a city the size of Detroit, and it began to fall into disrepair. Detroit’s wealth had vacated the city, enabled by its own highways and its own products. This is the Conner Stamping Plant on the east side of the city. It spent most of its later years producing parts for Buick, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac vehicles. In 1986, GM shut down the plant, laying off its 700 workers. This place is falling apart. I can feel these things flexing under my feet. It’s boarded up here. We could just climb through this window. It’s a bit of a squeeze, but not too tight. – It’s pretty empty in here.
– It is. – But this place is huge, there’s gonna be some buildings that are better. Let’s go down here. – Tall ceiling in here.
– This looks pretty crazy. There’s some belts for the machinery here. Or maybe rubber seals from barrels or something. It’s wide open. The plant actually dates all the way back to the 1920s, when it was used by the Hudson Motor Car Company. They were a smaller independent automaker that eventually went out of business in the ’50s. After a few years of sitting idle, the factory was purchased and reopened by Cadillac. – It’s pretty stripped in here.
– It is. Look at the size of this elevator. [birds chirping] I wonder if Ken Block was doing Gymkhana in here or something like that. Definitely a lot of tire tracks. Just areas where it looks like a vehicle is coming through. As it turns out, The Grand Tour had recently filmed an episode where they raced through the middle of the factory. There’s a car on the wall. And United Auto Workers. #1 Quality Team. – It smells like a fire.
– The whole building does. – More in here. Outside smelled like oil and grease. – A little stage, probably for… meetings and presentations. Union gatherings. – Then this room just opens up to that factory.
– Yeah, not an exit door. – Are there any rafters supposed to be here?
– Most likely. – You can see stairs over there that just end nowhere.
– Yeah. There’s a locker room back here. – I wonder if this is a cafeteria?
– Yeah. This looks like… a fridge? But it also looks like a morgue in a hospital,
but it’s clearly not. – It does feel very hospital-like.
– Doesn’t this look like a morgue? – It does.
– Like, the – you put the bodies in there. Yeah, this is the kitchen so out there must have been the cafeteria. GM logo. There’s all their brands. Buick, Cadillac… and what the heck is that in the middle? Do you know what that is? That logo in the middle belonged to Oldsmobile, which became defunct in 2004. – Oh, this is where all the shelves were, full of the tools and spare parts. – They’re gone. – Completely overturned, stolen. Geez. I think we might be a little bit late to this place.
– I think so. – I mean we’re late to Detroit in general, but at least we’re getting to see some of what’s left. There’s a smoke detector beep going off somewhere. Pretty crazy that one of those still has a working battery in a place this messed up. It’s coming from somewhere over here. – These are all baseball cards up these stairs.
-Yeah. Wow. The floor is covered in them. – Wow, they’re hockey cards actually.
– They are.
– Do people even care about hockey cards? – Nah, there’s a mix of baseball and hockey.
– Okay. – I feel like baseball cards are like,
the main thing people collect.
– They are. It’s like a bunch of wooden bricks mixed with baseball cards. Or hockey cards. Look at this, this one’s still wrapped. – Holy shit, do you see all those shiny glimmers?
– They’re all cards. – They’re all cards.
– These are all wrapped, too. – Brand new packs wrapped in foil. Holy crap. The mountain of sports cards in this room were a clickbait sensation on the internet a few years ago, with headlines claiming that urban explorers had made a discovery worth millions. In reality, they’re worth next to nothing, evidenced by the fact that they’re still sitting here years later. The true story is that they were stored here by a local Detroit businessman and simply forgotten about when he passed away. Okay, I’m gonna open some packs.
Let’s see what we get. Start with this one. Yeah. Inside the packs the cards are pretty much mint. What do we got… Tony Iob. C.J. Deb. These are very low-quality cards, you can tell. Rob Leisk. Jason Weidell, Greg Lutz… Michael Johnson. Ken Belanger… George Dorian… Gregory Ryan… These look like little kids! – [laugh] – Is this even like a professional league?
And Jason Allison.
– Here, hold ’em up to the camera? – It said the league on the pack. I’m gonna have to… Ontario Hockey League. They’re so low quality though, just the way that they’re…
– Do they have their stats on the back? – Yeah. They’re all from ’91, ’92. – Yeah. – I think I see what might be the most interesting thing we’ve seen here so far.
– This was part of the power plant area. – Probably. We are getting pretty close to the power plant. – Some kind of…
– Only one of them’s left. Probably more. Ingersoll Rand is the brand. – Alright, let’s head into the power plant.
– What is this? – Oh, it’s really wrecked. Controls in here anywhere? – No? – They were probably just right here.
– They’re probably, yeah. I think 200, 300 scrappers must have hit this [laugh] the amount of pipes that are cut. – I mean it still looks cool.
– It does in its own way.
– In a really apocalyptic way. – Every pipe is cut.
– This place was hit so hard by scrappers. It’s crazy. It’s still cool to see these control panels. All the gauges and dials. As we were getting our final cinematic shots, we noticed the building was beginning to fill with smoke. – Oh shit, look at that. – Yeah. I don’t know. I think below… – Below? We were just down there. – I saw it rising. – Light down there.
– There’s a light down there. Someone’s here. – Let’s get our shit and go. Not wanting to run into the wrong type of person, we quickly made our way out. It was time to check out some of Detroit’s other abandoned car factories. This is the 3.5 million square foot Packard plant that dates back to 1903. At the time, it was considered the most advanced car factory in the world. The last Packard automobiles rolled off the assembly line here in the late 1950s, and since then the plant has never operated again. We had plans to explore it, but to our surprise, there was actually security patrolling, and given how wide-open the building was, there was pretty much nowhere to hide. [Sarcastically] For the safety of the community, do not enter. Moving on from the Packard plant, we arrived at our next location: Fisher Body Plant #21. – Holy shit. We need a new phrase to stop saying “how fucked is it?” because then we just like, immediately…
– How blown out is it?
– How blown out is it. It’s extremely blown out. – Wow. This is all collapsed.
This is the tower that was leaning over.
– Yeah. – Look at the metal supports, they’re kinked!
– It looks pretty gnarly in here. Wow. For this exploration we’re joined by our friend Cary,
a Detroit local. He has some fantastic shots of the city on his Instagram, which we’ll link in the description. – Which one? – Really. – There’s no stairs? – No. [laugh] – Then from there there’s stairs, though?
– Yes. – Okay.
– Isn’t that weird? [clanking]
– Oh shit! – Probably should use the actual rope!
Looks like it’s tied in.
– Yeah, I’m very- I’m gonna use the rope. – Yeah the rope’s tied in. – This is pretty fun! [laugh] – This looks like the tunnel that the cars would go through on the assembly line. – I saw the track down there. – Let’s just do a loop around. See what we see. – Yeah, look at the track on the ceiling.
– Yeah. – It would pull… body panels through there, yeah.
– …the panels to go right through here. – It would dip down into something here.
– Right here, yeah. – There’s like sprayer nozzles… this is pretty neat!
– This might have been like, priming and painting and stuff.
– Yeah. Or just treating the metal.
– Treating the metal most likely, yeah.
– Anti-corroding. – It would dip it in here. – Another dipping thing. Oh, I think there would have been a wall here! You just walked through a door.
– Yeah. – This whole thing was closed off, that way it wouldn’t…
– … spray out or splash anything. Used to all be enclosed. And there were windows in it,
so you could observe from the outside. – A lot of dipping stations. – You can see an original drawing of a car. A very old car. – …stairs up? – Open cabin. – Now these stairs are lookin’ pretty, uh, rickety but…
– They’re alright. I mean they weren’t moving like the other ones. – Yeah. – Nothing on this floor.
– It’s like a wind tunnel! – There’s nothin’ here. – This is kind of cool.
– It’s the wash basin. – Yeah. – That glass is so sick. – Oh yeah, it’s very green up here. This plant was built in 1919 as an expansion to the existing Fisher Body Plant. Instead of creating complete cars, the Fisher company only created bodies, which were then sold to other companies for use with their own chassis. During World War II, the factory was converted to help in the war effort, producing parts for fighter planes and bombers. After the company’s absorption by GM, the Fisher brand name was eventually phased out. The plant would close down for good in 1984, as the old building could no longer be retrofitted to support modern machinery. – Oh, shit. – It’s sealed? – I don’t know. Looks it. – Yeah, that’s completely sealed. – We could go up another floor, maybe the other staircase will be open?
– Yeah, maybe. – We can look down into that floor. This might be where the tracks on the ground are.
– Maybe, yeah?
– There’s even a forklift sitting right there. – Oh shit! – Well it’s gotta be a way to get down there.
– Yeah. Probably the other stairwell. – Well this window’s busted out, I’m wondering if this is… Yup! There’s a ladder. Oh wait, the ladder’s fallen. It WAS a ladder.
– Really. – Right there.
– Holy shit. – You could still climb down there.
– Yeah. – Well let’s see if there’s an easier way first.
– Yeah, ’cause it’d be a bitch getting back up. – Yeah, this is the floor that is the main attraction though. – There’s gotta be stairs in this part.
– There might be stairs over there.
– Yeah. – Holy shit! – What? [goose honking] – Really?
– Goose. – What?
– Just a goose. – It’s a goose.
– Oh! [laughing] – It looks like he’s about to fuckin’ attack us. [honking]
– Where is it? – Right above you. – He’s hissing.
– Is he a savage goose? – Oh shit, he sees me. Oh he sees me! [laughing] Oh it’s angry! – Yeah, he probably has babies up there. [angry honking] – We should back up, that is a very…
– Aggressive goose!
– …violent goose, I can just tell. That is a savage goose right there if I’ve ever seen one. [honking] – If I went up this ladder right now…
– Oh, he’d attack!
– I’d be in a lot of trouble. [laugh] – How much damage can a goose do? – Why don’t ya find out?
– [laughing] – You first!
– All right. – Yeah, we’re going. – That looks awesome in there; we gotta find our way down in there. – Is he following us, really? [honking] – Oh, he’s flying somewhere. Oh shit! – Dude this is all his territory. – He’s angry!
– We’re messing with the wrong goose. [laugh] – Look at him go! – Crazy motherfucker! – He’s following us! [laughing hysterically] – Hooooly shiiit! Fucking goose! – Whew!
– Haha! – Holy shit, dude, he was just waiting to attack. He was waiting for us to turn our backs that entire time. – What the fuck! – Dude, as he was coming at us I was ready to throw a punch. I was literally ready to throw a fucking punch. [both laughing] – Oh my god. – Fucking goose, man. He was not playing. We gotta go in this way now because of him. – Watch this thing, the goose, come inside and attack us too. It’s just standing there, watching. – You see him?
– Yeah! – Holy fuck. I’m scared. – Where is he?
– On the edge of the building over there. – This is sick up here, this is definitely the best floor of the place. – Just making sure there’s actually rungs there. ‘Cause some of the other ladders did not have rungs. – Someone coulda scrapped ’em. – I haven’t heard Cary in a while. The goose might have got him.
– Yeah. – You guys down here? – Yeah. – You guys used this ladder, right? – What?
– Did you use this ladder? – Yeah.
– Okay. – Wow. The light’s nice. – This is almost cooler than the Cadillac factory…
– Yeah. – … ’cause this actually looks like cars were made here, you know?
– Yeah. – Full assembly line. – What was once storage for tools and parts is now just storage for spray paint. Bunch of vents in the ceiling. I wonder if this was like, a drying tunnel. Oh, and once it came down off these tracks here, it looks like… you could freely roll it horizontally… get it over here… do whatever else with it. With the sun finally dipping below the horizon, it was time to make our exit. Stay tuned for the next episode, where we’ll be checking out even more of what Detroit has to offer. The sponsor of today’s video, Dollar Shave Club,
makes it easy to get quality grooming items delivered right to your door at affordable prices. I usually don’t do a clean shave, but Dollar Shave Club’s executive razor and their Dr. Carver’s shave products makes it a breeze to clean up my neckline and shape my beard. But Dollar Shave Club offers more than just shave products. Their oral care starter set with a weighty toothbrush and minty toothpaste, and their shower starter set with a body cleanser, face cleanser, and pepper shampoo ensure I’m feeling refreshed when I start my day. I really like the Post Shave Dew. It smells great and leaves my shave feeling smooth and fresh. They ship all their products right to your door and offer recurring shipments at your choice of frequency, that way you never run out of razors or shampoo. Go to dollarshaveclub.com/properpeople to get your first starter set for just $5.