Friday, July 18, 2008

Picking Over the Bones: Scrapping in Detroit

Helen sent me a link to the blog, Sweet Juniper earlier this week.

Apparently the scrapping, the stealing of aluminum window frames, street signal poles and manhole covers is out of control. Here's a excerpt from a post titled Decontruction

I heard on the news yesterday morning that Flint has more than 200 missing manhole covers. Scrappers get about $20 for the heavy iron discs, but the city must spend $200 to replace them. A month or so ago, scrappers stole an 8-foot statue of Jesus from a Detroit church. The plaster statue had just been painted green to resemble tarnished copper. So they dumped Jesus in an alley. With China's voracious demand for raw materials and the shocking increase in value of recyclable metals over the past few years, increased scrapping and theft are no surprise. But in places like Detroit the problem is so vast, fighting it seems almost futile, like those farm workers beating away the locusts in Days of Heaven. Occasionally a scrapper will die cutting a live wire, but six more step forward to take his place.

You see scrappers all the time in their beat-down old cars and trucks filled with metal: aluminum siding, radiators, steel fixtures, copper piping. I often see them inside Detroit's wide-open and abandoned historic structures. Most artifacts of architectural significance have long been pillaged (for example, the terracotta lions from Lee Plaza that passed through the Ann Arbor antique market before being incorporated into new condo developments in Chicago). But there is still some rusty metal to be ripped away from the walls in most of these buildings. While showing that BBC documentary crew around a few weeks ago, we came across a mini van filled with metal driving around inside the old Fisher Body 21 plant. They are like maggots feeding on wounds; parasites devouring the viscera of this dying city.

1 comment:

Dekka-69 said...

Sure looks like they missed the fence and lamp posts ...