Connor Cadillac Plant, an Abandoned City
Located near Gratiot rd and Conner rd in Detroit, is a massive building that served this city as a Cadillac Automotive plant back in 1956. Helping with the design to improve the structure was the great Albert Khan, who has worked on a number of industrial plants throughout the Detroit area. A large building was added between 1961 and 1967, and roofing was put in between them to make it a covered warehouse with an even larger area to work. Come join me as I walk you through this amazing industrial structure of the abandoned Conner Cadillac Plant.
It was a Thursday morning, I packed up my car with my #NikonD750, #GoProHero5 and tripod, along with a bag of lights and other camera parts that would help me document a place I had been wanting to explore since I laid eyes on it. The Conner Cadillac Plant stood majestic at Conner St and Gratiot Ave. in Detroit. Today was the day I was going to view this massive structure and all the great engineering that went into making it. Crazy? Yes, probably so, but hey, when it comes to urban exploring I jump at every chance I get to document it. I left my house and drove about 20 minutes to its location, meeting my friend Tim there who shared the same enthusiasm I did to see what this place looked like on the inside. We both loaded out gear onto our backs and walked down Gratiot Ave. to an opening where the old Gary Intern-urban terminal was at. This terminal served as a rail system to multiple stops from Detroit up to Port Huron. The building had suffered severe fire damage leaving a char on most of the wood, but still making accessible to explore. After about 15 minutes, we made our way behind the terminal down a dirt path to an opening in the fence. We could see the decaying building in the distance with tons of old crates, water filled barrels and trash lining the way.
(First Picture is the Gary Inter-Urban Terminal Building)
As we made our way down the path, the back end of the plant got closer and closer. We got to the opening of the building and the smell was quite crazy, a type of fuel, oil, diesel and a lot of other mixed stenches overtook my nostrils. Right in the "doorway" area, stood multiple huge machines that were still attached to the ground. Large pieces of metal hung down from the ceiling and multiple inches of insulation and other debris covered the floors and windows. I have been into a lot of place, but I have never seen a place with machines like this left behind. Granted these were a story high, so unless The Hulk came through to take them out, i'm sure it would not be easy, but still, what a crazy sight to see.
Just off to the left of where we entered, was a door that lead us into the main area. The temperate changed so fast, dropping almost 10-15 degrees from the humid air outside, and the smell of fuel got even stronger. I understood why though as we made our way through the door, there was a massive machine that greeted us, with a giant wheel in the middle, I believe it was some sort of engine / compressor system to run one of the many pieces of machinery that use to be held next to it. It had the name "Ingersoll Rand" on the nameplate above. The paint was peeling off, but the machine itself looked to be in quite good shape all things considered. With 2 huge tanks on either side and a bright red wheel in the middle with tubs and pipes connecting into it, it was quite awesome looking. The floor was dugout around it which housed more pipes and a lot of water from the rains pouring in throughout the years.
Just to the right of this area was more dug out floor, with a lot of water in them. This was the only piece of machinery in this room, other then a large tank which we believe was some kind of water tank/heater. After trying to figure out what this massive thing was used for, we made or way to the first main open area, but not before seeing a prosthetic leg at the bottom of the water on one of the dugouts. That was kind of creepy, not sure who's it is, but if you were at the Cadillac Plant, and lost a leg, and are reading this, it is still there, as of a few weeks ago, (there was a women's shoe attached). So, anyway, as we stepped out into this massive open area, we could see to the other end of the building! An area to the left use to be sectioned off you could tell, but it wasn't anymore. The ceiling above had holes where sunshine and soon rain would come through, the floor was a mix of brick and concrete and massive amounts of windows were gone from the area to the left letting light shine in and illuminate all of the puddles of water, and shining metal that covered the floor.
As we marveled over the high ceilings and and massive room we were standing in, it began to rain. Some holes in the roof brought in a find mist of droplets, while others poured in water kicking up dust as they hit the ground. The sound of the rain hitting the roof overtook me, it was so quiet in this place and that was all I could hear. I walked over by the window to get pictures in the side room, I dodged rain drops as I made my way over, passing a huge electrical unit of some sort and a detached closet that said stretcher. There was also a TV which no longer worked, a ladder and an old trailer. Its always fun to think about how this stuff got there, who used that trailer? Was the TV there in their break room originally, or was it brought in at another point in time? Since 2015 most of the plant, except one area had been abandoned, after workers took what they could including cranes, copper and other machinery.
I made my way towards the back of the main area, crossing under a walkway connecting this building to the other part of the large open area on the other side of the concrete wall. There were three small portable structures, possibly guard shacks along that back wall. The walls of them were covered with charred remains, smelling like a fire had just broke out inside them not that long before. Just to the left of them in a back area there was a set of stairs that read "Death" "Turn Back Now" and "666" on them, leading to the second level. Naturally, me and Tim proceeded up the staircase to see what awaited us upstairs.
As we made our way up the back stairs, the light from the windows above shinned though and you could feel a temperature difference. My lens collected fog on the outside due to the humidity being so high and the rain still coming down. The sight was amazing though, pillars lined the upper level all the way down, showing exposed carpet and torn up concrete along the way. At the far end, was an area where people had most likely been recently as piles of burnt ash covered the floor and the smell of smoke filled my nasal passages. There were tons of old documents, checks, manuals and mounds of paper piled up in front of the window and all over the floor. It was amazing to see how much was left behind, just freezing the building in time.
I made my way across the bridge into a very dark area! Looking to my right I could only see a faint light at the end, and huge elevator shafts in front of me. But what really caught my eye is what was next to the elevators, it was an opening maybe 10 feet wide with water rushing down the wall from the rain outside, leading into the even bigger open area. As you looked across all I could see was the cutaway of multiple floors and hundreds of beams holding them up. Debris covered every floor, with steel, insulation and a whole lot of dirt. This was easily one of the biggest and most fascinating sights I have seen out of all my explorations I have been on. This was the area that was built up between the two buildings to have even more work room with a roof for equipment and tons of other things. Who knows what was actually in here. Sticking my video camera out over the edge while I held on to an old pipe to keep me from falling brought to life just how big the area was. Even with my wide angel view on, it seemed to go on forever! The colors of the graffiti against the deep black spaces on multiple floors was unbelievable. You could picture the workers, years before doing their daily tasks and the huge machines that operated.
We decided that this area was much to large to jump across to get to the other side, so we went back down the same set of stairs we came up, and made our way across the first building into the massive space between. From ground level it looked even more amazing; the fog had covered a major part of the space and the temperature went back to being on the cooler side. Looking up, the ceiling and had multiple areas of wear and tear and a number of windows were missing along the top sides, allowing tons of natural light in. Setting up my tripod in the middle end of the room, I was able to capture the fog as it covered the floor, what a sight it was to see. Tons of debris lined the sides of the open area, with huge steel and concrete parts, more mounds of papers, and a lot of insulation! We didn't head up the stairs to the other side of the building, that will be left for another day, as you could probably spend 6+ hours in this place and not see everything. We did make our way to a back room though where thousands of baseball and hockey cards covered the floor. I had seen them spread throughout along the way, but I never expected to see a massive pile of them. Boxes and boxes of unopened card packs and thousands of soaked open ones, brought color to the floor. You always find interesting things in abandoned places and this was definitely at the top of my list.
I have been to a lot of abandoned facilities but this place is definitely one of my top locations to explore. The shear size of the building is amazing to me, and the history behind it makes me want to go back again and explore even deeper. There is so much to be learned from places like this, and so much information that can be passed on to inform those who want to hear the great stories about these places. I will have video uploaded soon to my new #YouTube channel of this place, so be on the lookout for that. You can follow me on #YouTube and #Instagram at #jcphoto_abandoned.
I hope you enjoyed your tour of the Conner Cadillac plant, and please remember, if you decide to explore yourself, be careful and take the necessary precautions! If you have any stories about this place, or any other abandoned places you have been to, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop a comment. I love to hear from those with first hand experience when these buildings were in their prime.