Detroit’s abandoned Packard Plant has been a prominent location in my Hidden series, and I thought it might be fun to share a bit about the plant for those who aren’t familiar with it.
The Packard plant is one of those places that seems to symbolize Detroit’s fall. Once upon a time, it was a powerhouse, a humongous 40-acre plant designed by Albert Kahn that produced classic Packards and Studebakers. It did that from 1903 until 1958, when the factory shut down. Over time, parts of the factory have been in use by various tenants, but it has never been up to full production since. It has fallen apart, reduced to glorified rubble under the ownership of absentee owners. It has become a “must see” location for urban explorers and those who have a thing for ruin porn.
It’s been featured in an Eminem video:
I chose the Packard plant as a setting for some of the biggest, most life-shattering moments of Hidden because the idea of 3.5 million square feet of space sitting there empty and crumbling just creeps the hell out of me. If your mind is dark enough, the things you can envision happening there are enough to give you nightmares (and this isn’t even counting the real-life nightmares that occur there. It is not a place I’d want to hang out in.) It is a place so far gone, so dangerous to deal with, that the Detroit Fire Department has ignored fires burning there. Also, the fact that there is this large space, and it sits there empty and somewhat secluded provided the perfect backdrop for so much weirdness that (in my books, at least) could maybe only be explained by supernaturals. The fact that the plant has stayed empty for so long was what originally piqued my interest, and your mind goes to things like hauntings. In my case, it wasn’t hauntings so much as the presence of an inter-realm gateway that was keeping people away from the property.
The Packard Plant Today
The plant was purchased by a new owner in 2013, who vows to have the site up and running again. He’s hoping to get one of the Big 3 to start using part of the factory again, and he wants to use other parts of the site for a variety of uses, including industrial, residential, artist lofts, and (maybe?) a go-kart course (I don’t know. That’s what the man said.)
We shall see. Considering how long a whole lot of nothing has happened at this site, I don’t think anyone is holding their breath. This is kind of one of those things about being a Detroiter. You look at certain sites, certain buildings that have been empty forever, and every few years someone will say “hey! We’re doing to do something awesome with this/restore it to its former glory/build something here!” and then a couple of years later, nothing has changed.
Here’s hoping this becomes something great again someday.
Links for More Info About the Packard Plant:
- Detroit Free Press: The Packard Plant: Big, Ugly, and Dangerous
- USA Today: Even in Ruin, Detroit’s Packard Plant Inspires Artists
- Detroit Free Press: The Packard Plant, Then and Now