Factories

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Packard Car Factory
Detroit, MI

Known more for its afterlife of arson and anarchy, it insists to exist. It built cars between 1903 and 1958, only taking breaks to help America win its wars. Since then it has become an icon of America’s manufacturing decline.

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Pillsbury Mill
Minneapolis, MN

For Pillsbury to be abandoned in Minneapolis is like the Gateway Arch to be rusting from the inside out and passed by hundreds—unnoticing. This is Mill City, and this is the Mill of Mill City, and the people pass on, not even looking up to ask why these three square blocks on the river are the way they are.

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Purina Chow Mill
Minneapolis, MN

I like abandoned things–factories, hospitals, schools–and now, I can add ‘abandoned kittens’ to that list. Oh, and here’s one of Minneapolis’ former animal feed mills, one that has roots back in 1916. Now, which do you think is cuter? Honestly, I’m torn…

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Quincy Smelting Works
Hancock, MI

Not like this, not anywhere, not anymore. This is a unique place–an old temple of metallurgy in the Upper Peninsula; “God’s Country,” everyone insisted. This is an abandoned monument to a god of fire, of copper, and for me, of time travel.

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Solvay Coke
Milwaukee, WI

I go step by step through the coke making process, down to the job descriptions, to illustrate the functions of the plant. I talk about the history, the racism, the ad campaigns. All you need to know about Milwaukee-Solvay Coke you can learn right here.

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Studebaker Car Factory
South Bend, IN

South Bend, Indiana is a kind of graveyard that one only finds in the Rust Belt, where the headstones are blast furnaces and the only people who visit look for something left behind. Here lies Studebaker, a dead American car company.

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Twohy and Osborn Blocks
Superior, WI

Since the 1890s, little has changed on North First Street. The Twohy and Osborn buildings have survived a century just a block off the beaten path, just out of sight of downtown. A few good stories hide there; these are some of them.