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Detroit: Unbroken Down
DeShawn, Midtown, Detroit 2010Photography Dave Jordano

Why Detroit isn’t the broken city you think it is

The once thriving city is now characterised by a bleak media narrative, but this photographer is capturing its resilience and hope for the future

A once industrious motor-town, the infamous 8 Mile, a hulking metropolis that spurned out Motown. Detroit is the biggest city in Michigan. It’s a city synonymous with the motoring industry for some, dark techno for others, and it has been ravaged by an ailing economy and a culture of crime. Despite what many think however, Detroit is not a broken city, and photographer Dave Jordano headed back to his hometown to capture its resilient essence.

Detroit: Unbroken Down finds Jordano back where he was born in 1948, tracing the characters of the post-industrial city. Looking past the crumbling civic infrastructure, the hollowed-out churches and industrial lots, Jordano finds the people who, despite hard times, are hopeful and positive for their misunderstood city.

The photo book documents the young and old, the homeless, the school football team, the families and workers. People are in motion and reactive, whether it's in jacked up cars, makeshift BMX parks or sitting watching the world go by on their front porches. The people are railing against the visual trope thrust upon them by the media and surrounding North America that Detroit is, as Dave Jordano argues against, “all death and decay”. His tone conflicts with the bleak and bleary narrative Detroit has been wrongfully paired with, and the images highlight residents that are hopeful for their own futures.

In an essay, Jordano explains his need to illustrate a Detroit that very few outside the motor city know. He says: "this personal project is not about what's been destroyed, but more importantly about what's been left behind and about those who are coping with what remains." The people of Detroit and their spirits will not be quelled.

Detroit: Unbroken Down – published by Powerhouse Books – is available now