"Lost Detroit" tells the stories behind 12 of the city's most beautiful forgotten landmarks, from the day they opened to the day they closed. We share the memories of those who caught trains out of Michigan Central Station, necked with girlfriends in the balcony of the Michigan Theatre and kicked out the jams at the Grande Ballroom. Features more than 175 pages in full color. By Dan Austin with photography by Sean Doerr, the team behind www.BuildingsofDetroit.com.
On the book...
Architecture critics sometimes get so immersed in the jargon of their trade—entablatures and plinths and the like—that they forget that buildings get built for flesh-and-blood people. In this important book, Dan Austin and Sean Doerr have restored the real people to many of Detroit’s architectural landmarks, and not a moment too soon. The "lost" buildings of their title still stand, or rather totter, in a dilapidated state, their histories fading like the paint on their walls. The buildings themselves may not long survive. But thanks to this book and the efforts of Austin and Doerr, the stories of these buildings, and the stories of the people who built them and used them, will endure.
Who were these lost Detroiters? Mayors and matrons, train conductors and auto workers, honeymooners and jitterbugging young couples out for a Saturday night—all the rich panoply of faces that make up Detroit's story. The buildings they inhabit in these pages—the Michigan Central Station, Vanity Ballroom, Cass Tech High School and others—held a central place in the story of Detroit's Auto Century. It was America's story, too. Detroiters lived, loved, toiled, played, celebrated and dreamed great dreams in these buildings and thereby helped shape a nation.
This book is blunt about the deterioration of these landmarks. But the reader need not fear or expect another of those dreary celebrations of ruins that came into vogue a few years ago. These structures stand today as ghost buildings, to be sure, and some of the photos may make you cry. But more often, the photographs here will have you staring in wonder at the splendor and the plenty of what once was.
So don't worry if you think architecture is beyond you, or if you don't know a frieze from a fresco. Austin and Doerr are good guides, gently leading the uninitiated through many rooms and hallways of Detroit's all-but forgotten story. It's a fascinating journey, well worth the price of a ticket. -- John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press Architecture Critic
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