We're going to Detroit mid-November to see some of the famed "Lost Places" (think Michigan Central Station), but I'm not sure how to approach this subject.

Most places which are easy to locate are off limits or no longer in existence (which is why people are willingly sharing their location) and vice versa I don't know how to research lesser known locations.

I believe the most promising approach would be to book photo tours and talk to the people there. (Edit: Or try to contact photographers / instagrammers who have a portfolio of lost places ...)

Does anyone know of a good strategy to research "lost places" in Detroit? I'm looking for everything: books, forums, owners which might be willing to give a tour of their property for a small fee, etc.

Edit: General advice on how to approach "lost places" is also appreciated. With stories like the Cooley High School arson, I imagine that wandering around an abandoned building will quickly raise suspicion? Would it be a problem to ask a cab driver to take us e.g. to the Packard Automobile Plant?

Edit 2 - Permits: I just found out that the City of Gary, Indiana apparently issues filming permits (read: UrbEx permits) for four of its properties. While the UrbEx community is in disdain, this seems like a legal and harmless way to explore some buildings. Does anyone know whether such permits might be issued in Detroit? Is there any in use in mailing the Board of Education and asking for a permit to enter an abandoned school for private photography?

Edit 3 - Trespassing: I want to avoid the issue of trespassing, but some photography groups make the case that there might be cases where you can enter a building legally, namely if nothing prevents you from doing so (no doors, signs, fences, etc.). Can anyone comment on the legality of such action? To give an example, I have found a small store which has it's facade missing and no signs or writings of any sort. Could I enter that store?

Edit 4 - MCPW: Does anyone know what's going on with "Motor City Photography Workshops"? From my understanding, they seem to be the premier adress for "Urbex photography", but I just couldn't reach them (phone, E-Mail, contact form) ...

  • Suspicion? It's more likely to get you arrested for trespassing. Have you experience doing this kind of urban exploration? Oct 29, 2019 at 14:44
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    @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas I tried not to use the term "urban exploration" because I would prefer to stay on the legal side of things and not enter buildings. Judging from pictures on the Internet, the Packard Automotive Plant covers a few blocks with (public?) roads in between. Oct 29, 2019 at 17:07

1 Answer 1


You are looking for places like that ?

Maybe this.

I'd first start by looking at the Detroit Atlas Obscura (maybe too tame for what you are looking for)

Secondly, I'd look at Detroit photographer groups (for example on flickr) and ask for suggestions.

Normally when doing things like there, there are always risks of trespassing and getting caught (part of the thrills of doing some style of urban photography)

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