The city of Detroit has had an unprecedented impact on the industrial age and the modern world. Once called “The Paris of the Midwest,” it was a city driven by innovation and craftsmanship. The architecture of Detroit in the early 1900s rivaled that of New York, Chicago, or Paris. Then came the Great Depression of the 1930s. Though Detroit would rise again, the era of opulence was over. The boom of the 1950s did not produce another architectural renaissance. In 2009, the US recession hit Detroit like a second Great Depression, compounding the decline and the ruin. The population dropped from 1.8 million people in the 1950s to a current population of 706,000. The unemployment rate is now over 30%. The majority of these majestic pre- Depression buildings are presently being destroyed at an exponential rate as they lie victim to scrappers, arson, and demolition. Since 2010 Photographer Jarmain has been documenting the increasingly rapid destruction of Detroit?s early twentieth-century buildings. His emphasis in this work is on the architecture itself of these vanishing edifices. The photos are both sad and breathtakingly beautiful.
To see American Beauty by Philip Jarmain MERIDIAN GALLERY 535 Powell Street San Francisco California September 7 to October 20th 2013