Kevin Bauman Paints a Portrait of Detroit’s Past in 100 Abandoned Houses

All images by Kevin Bauman. Used with Creative Commons permission.

A city, much like all of us, changes, evolves, and ages. Just look at photos of your city or home town from 20 years ago and you’ll see some changes, big or small. Denver-based Kevin Bauman takes this a notch higher with an interesting project simply called 100 Abandoned Houses. Part architectural and part documentary photography, he takes us around the streets of Detroit to showcase the lingering remnants of a shrinking city.

“Once a city of almost 2 million citizens, Detroit has since lost over half its population over the last 60 years,” Bauman wrote in his project’s description. “I had always found it to be amazing, depressing, and perplexing that a once great city could find itself in such great distress, all the while surrounded by such affluence.”

He began taking photos 100 Abandoned Houses roughly 10 years ago, but he has actually been photographing abandonment in Detroit since the mid-90s. One of his favorite spots is Brush Park, situated on the outskirts of the city’s entertainment district, where he remembers seeing abandoned large houses and mansions so close to theaters, Wayne State University, and the central business district.

While Bauman started with the project with mostly black and white, he eventually switched into color as he collected more and more images and a documentary angle emerged. While the project is a compilation of 100 houses, he believes that the number is actually more like 12,000. That sounds like a staggering figure, but he also reminds us that Detroit covers an area of over 138 square miles. Therefore, it has enough room to take in San Francisco, Boston, and Manhattan Island. Still, its population has fallen from close to 2 million to around less than 800.

Apart from the documentary value of this project, there’s also a certain fascination it inspires in the viewer from architectural and historical standpoints. What will become of these houses in the long run? What secrets and stories do these houses keep? We may never know, and that’s part of the charm of this poignant series.

Check out the 100 Abandoned Houses website to see the rest of the series, and Kevin Bauman’s Behance portfolio and website for more of his work.