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Report - - Fisher Body Plant 21, Detroit April 2019 | European and International Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Fisher Body Plant 21, Detroit April 2019



mookster

grumpy sod
Regular User
#1
In between the time spent hopping to and from abandoned schools and churches in the city I had one request to my friends. I needed to see Fisher Body 21, I didn't care if they came in with me or not but I needed to see it in person at long last. After the Packard Plant and Michigan Central Station (which is now being restored) it's one of Detroit's most recognisable abandonments and occupies an imposing position dominating the skyline around it, and I had wanted to see it for years.

History shamelessly pinched from Detroiturbex.

The slogan “Body By Fisher” may not mean much to younger consumers, but in the early days of the auto industry, it carried a lot of weight.

In the years before the fully integrated automobile chassis became commonplace, the passenger compartment of a car was a modular component that could be swapped out with different makes or models to meet the particular tastes of a customer. This practice dated back to horse-drawn carriages; one could opt for various levels of decoration and amenities provided by different body companies.

The Fisher Body Company, formed in 1908 by Albert Fisher and his nephews Charles and Fred, initially produced bodies for both the carriage and auto industries, though they dropped the carriage line in 1911. At the time auto bodies were made of a mixture of shaped wood and metal, the construction of which was a complicated process requiring skilled tradesmen. Automakers found it was more cost-effective to outsource body construction; by 1910’s Fisher was producing high-quality automotive bodies for Cadillac, Ford, Studebaker, and Hudson, among other names.

To meet increasing demand, Fisher expanded operations to over 40 plants in Detroit, Cleveland, Flint, and Ontario. Body plant number 21 was built in 1919 on Piquette Street in Detroit; just a stone’s throw away from Henry Ford’s original workshop. The six-story building was designed by Albert Kahn, featuring reinforced concrete construction and walls of windows to allow in natural light. The plant started to turn out Buick and Cadillac bodies in the 1920’s, focusing on the stamping process.

General Motors had moved most of its bodywork to Fisher in 1917, and two years later bought a controlling interest in the company. The two companies merged in 1926, though the “Body By Fisher” marquee continued. The Fisher brothers built their landmark 30-story headquarters across from the General Motors Building in what would later become the New Center area of Detroit.

A series of violent strikes broke out at General Motors and Fisher Body plants across the country in the late 1930’s, bringing work to a halt. The sit-down strike at the Flint Fisher Body plant #1 was one of the first organized labor actions by the nascent United Auto Workers.

Like other automotive companies, Fisher retooled during the Second World War for military production, manufacturing components for planes, anti-aircraft guns, tanks, other materials.

After the war the Piquette plant focused on stamping and assembly work for buses, ambulances, and limousines. By this time though, the Fisher name had started to recede from public view. In November of 1982 General Motors announced it was closing the #21 body plant and moving limousine production to Flint. The last day of production was April Fool’s Day, 1984.

The vacant plant found new life when the Carter Color Coat Company purchased it in 1990 for use in industrial painting; this however was short-lived, as Carter Color filed for bankruptcy in 1993 and subsequently abandoned the plant. Ownership of the site reverted to the city of Detroit in 2000.
After arriving two of my friends decided they weren't that bothered after they saw there was no easy route up to the higher levels but luckily my other friend ventured in with me. The stairs up to the first floor from ground level have been completely sealed with thick steel sheeting and breezeblocks for some time now and so there is a choice of two alternative ways to access the upper floors - either by pulling yourself up a large slab of collapsed concrete using a long metal pipe, or by clambering up a rickety metal grate that has been left dangling down into the ground floor level - I chose the latter.

The floor of interest is right at the very top, so that's exactly where we headed first via the roof. After taking in the views for a bit and snapping some photos we ventured down a floor and into the only area of any real note in the building, the rest of the floors other than the first floor are all empty factory spaces. During my entire two and a half days in Detroit this was the only location where we encountered other explorers in a building, or generally people of any kind in a building at all which was pretty amazing in itself.





























Thanks for looking :)

 

host

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#3
Quality as ever I would have thought by now most of what we saw a few years ago in Detroit was either knocked down or redeveloped by now is this not the case ? Still want to go here and philly.
 

mookster

grumpy sod
Regular User
#4
Quality as ever I would have thought by now most of what we saw a few years ago in Detroit was either knocked down or redeveloped by now is this not the case ? Still want to go here and philly.
Load of the old iconic stuff has gone or is in a dreadful state, Fisher is just about holding together. Packard actually has a security presence on it now!

As a side note I felt more unsafe exploring in Philly than I ever have done in Detroit. That is except for when we were in the Highland Park neighbourhood, which is still suffering like Detroit was a decade ish ago when things were at their worst - it's like stepping foot in somewhere that closely resembles Aleppo, and after a short while we just decided to get the hell out.
 

host

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#5
Load of the old iconic stuff has gone or is in a dreadful state, Fisher is just about holding together. Packard actually has a security presence on it now!

As a side note I felt more unsafe exploring in Philly than I ever have done in Detroit. That is except for when we were in the Highland Park neighbourhood, which is still suffering like Detroit was a decade ish ago when things were at their worst - it's like stepping foot in somewhere that closely resembles Aleppo, and after a short while we just decided to get the hell out.
What about the west coast ? Done much that way ?