MICHIGAN MONDAYS | DETROIT’S ABANDONED FISHER BODY PLANT 21 TOUR

Detroit's Fisher Body Plant 21 | Urban exploration adventure #Detroit

Detroit’s Fisher Body Plant 21 was built in 1919 and designed by Albert Kahn, aka “The Architect of Detroit” (he designed Belle Isle’s lovely Conservatory, among other famous Detroit landmarks). In its heyday, it churned out 370,000 car bodies per year for Cadillac, Buick, Ford, Chevrolet, and other iconic companies. 
Sadly, the factory has been abandoned since the early 90’s. Its remains are a hulking reminder of Detroit’s glory days. Ever since moving here, we have wanted to do a some kind of urban exploring and the Fisher Plant seemed like the perfect place to start. Of course, this kind of voyeurism is definitely an exploitation of the city but I think it’s also imperative to see these things in the flesh to understand the various, and often competing, narratives of Detroit
Detroit's Fisher Body Plant 21 | Urban exploration adventure #Detroit

We drive by the Fisher Plant a lot and have always wanted to go inside. Over the summer we ran into a group of photographers during one of our Detroit jaunts. Turns out the group, Motor City Photography Workshops, meets regularly to explore abandoned structures in Detroit. Total score! It took a few months, but we finally signed up for a workshop.

Side bar: We try to do some sort of lifelong learning course at the beginning of each year (cake decorating and curling were our previous choices) and since we just got our fancy new camera, we thought this would be the perfect way to take it out for a spin.


Don’t you love our matching crochet hats? I made earflaps for Warren and kind of wish I had some on mine. Guess I’ll just have to make another!

Detroit's Fisher Body Plant 21 | Urban exploration adventure #Detroit

Detroit's Fisher Body Plant 21 | Urban exploration adventure #Detroit

We met up with the group at dawn and spent two hours exploring the building from the top to bottom. We loved exploring with  more seasoned photographers because we got some great advice and tips on how to shoot in the varying conditions–dim dawn light, bright snow, reflective surfaces, etc.

If you are in the metro Detroit area, I highly recommend going out with Motor City Photography. It feels slightly safer to be with a herd and our guides knew where all the potholes and crumbling staircases were so we didn’t fall through the floor. Kind of important in situations like this. 

Detroit Motor City Photography Workshop
Detroit's Fisher Building Plant 21 | Urban exploration adventure #Detroit

Detroit's Fisher Building Plant 21 | Urban exploration adventure #Detroit

The thing that stuck out to me the most was the layers of decay. From the peeling paint, to the broken glass, to the old factory tracks lacing through the snow, everything was a study in contrasts. 
Detroit's Fisher Building Plant 21 | Urban exploration adventure #Detroit
Detroit's Fisher Building Plant 21 | Urban exploration adventure #Detroit
And, of course, the graffiti art. Spray paint cans littered the floor, along with massive tagged murals. I know next to nothing about graffiti but I was amazed by the composition and colors of pretty much all of it.

Detroit's Fisher Building Plant 21 | Urban exploration adventure #Detroit
Detroit's Fisher Building Plant 21 | Urban exploration adventure #Detroit
Here are a few more graffiti snippets that stood out.

Detroit's Fisher Building Plant 21 | Urban exploration adventure #Detroit
And, in case you were wondering, this is what a bathroom looks like after 20 years of abandonment.

Detroit's Fisher Building Plant 21 | Urban exploration adventure #Detroit

This blue hallway was probably my favorite part of the building. The blue comes from the blue paned glass. I imagine it looked beautiful in its former glory days.

Detroit's Fisher Building Plant 21 | Urban exploration adventure #Detroit
Detroit's Fisher Building Plant 21 | Urban exploration adventure #Detroit

How about you? Have you done some urban exploring? If so, what was it like?


For you photo nerds, we shot using a Canon 40 mm f/2.8 lens, AKA, the pancake lens (named so because it’s a very compact, flat lens. Clever, right?). While we are total newbies, we absolutely loved it, especially in contrast with the kit lens. Crisp photos, gorgeous bokeh, and an all around great performer under lots of different circumstances. Plus it is built superbly. Total win-win!

If you have a DSLR, what has been your go-to lens?

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