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troubled assets

January 15th, 2010

Troubled Assets is a photo series that documents the abundance of repurposed bank buildings in Detroit, Michigan. The dominance of these buildings, and the bold architecture they employed, was a testament to Detroit’s wealth. Today, many of these historic structures still stand — no longer as banks, but rather as churches, hair salons, nightclubs, pawn shops, and day cares; others are abandoned, for sale, for lease, or status unknown.

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Most of these structures were the property of the Detroit Savings Bank company or the Peninsular Savings Bank company. When Detroit’s wealth was sucked out of its neighborhoods and transplanted into the suburbs, these corner banks became superfluous. Many banks, including Detroit Savings, folded or were absorbed. Their assets, including their properties, were liquidated, leaving behind the structures for commercial and sometimes residential use.

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The buildings have always intrigued me, but they grabbed my attention more lately as the economic situation has grown. While these buildings were not abandoned during today’s economic crisis, they are the physical remains of Detroit’s own money disaster.

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The map below compiles the locations of these bank buildings. Many of the GPS data points are connected to images, while others are still waiting for a photo. Keep checking back here for updates — more photos will be added, and the map will grow as locations are scouted and added.

Green tags signify buildings with images, red tags signify buildings without images. Yellow tags signify buildings that may or may not have been banks.


View Troubled Assets in a larger map

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  1. jdg

    camilo vergara had a really nice slideshow on slate a while back on this phenomenon, the highlight being what he does so well (documenting the same locations from the same position over the course of several decades):

    http://www.slate.com/id/2218085/slideshow/2218233/fs/0//entry/2218232/

    I took a picture of him standing in the middle lane of woodward avenue with his 1970s 35mm with its ancient PC-lens documenting one just a few months ago.

  2. gsg

    wow! Would love to see that shot. thanks for bringing this to my attention. best, G

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