The struggles of Motor City are well known to everyone by now, its issues with money, crime, and decay a focal point of fear-mongering news reporters for decades. But, strangely, residents are saying that Detroit is attracting more tourists than ever, not in spite of it's crumbling remains.. but because of them.
Tour guide Jesse Welter, a 42 year old Detroit native, specializes in a different kind of tour. He takes people from out of town and shows them not just the decaying architecture of the city.. but he takes them inside it.
Welter guided his first tour in late 2011, but the business has really picked up this year. His clients pay $45 for a three-hour tour and explore some of Detroit's most famously blighted structures: the Packard Automotive Plant, the train station and the East Grand Boulevard Methodist Church, which features peeling paint and vast balconies.
If you think this kind of tour is illegal, you'd be right, but with a police force stretched so thin it's nearly abandoned entire sections of the city, and a waiting list that keeps filling up, Welter's tours don't look to be ending any time soon. Of course, not everyone is thrilled with the uptick in attention that Detroit has gotten from hipster vacationers.
"The decay is not cool, not arty-farty," Jean Vortkamp, a community activist and onetime mayoral candidate, told the LA Times. "I see the lady with bags and three layers of clothes on, and then I see a group of white young people climb out of their dad's cars with cameras that are worth so much."
Regardless of what you think about urban exploration, or rich kids taking a Motor City holiday, you can't deny the allure of exploring the abandoned architecture of a sprawling city like Detroit.
To check out more photos, and schedule a tour with Welter yourself, drop by his Facebook page.