February 26, 2009 / The abandonment of Detroit has left a vast urban ruin, and the scattered remains of people’s lives and histories.

James Griffioen, on destroying abandoned records in Detroit to protect the privacy of the children who used to attend a local elementary school:

I call the school district’s legal department and leave voice mails warning them of the liability of this gross violation of student privacy. I never receive a response. I track down the school psychologist to some address in Troy. Nothing. It turns out a daily newspaper reported abandoned records like these within many of the 33 schools closed in 2007 and the district did nothing. No one is responsible. Someone else was supposed to destroy them. The company that had been paid to secure the school never did its job.

So I did it. I went back in to destroy them so they would no longer be just sitting there on the floor for anyone to find.

Grim story. Check out the additional photos and commentary in his Vice Magazine piece, “School’s Out Forever.” Scrappers have stripped the metal out of many of these abandoned schools, and from the warehouse that supplied the district which suffered from a fire some twenty years ago; plant life is moving in and the remains are slowly disintegrating:

In the briefest possible terms: there was a fire, and no one knows why no one saved what could be saved, and then a man bought the building and let it rot so he could keep making billions of dollars. […]

Here we get to see what the world will look like when we’re gone.

This was the Roosevelt Warehouse. Next door is Michigan Central Station, beloved by Hollywood film scouts, who are looking for the perfect setting for stories about the end of days.

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