The Fisher Body Plant 21 was truly majestic. There was so much urban beauty and decay…I didn’t even know where to begin! I decided to explore the bottom floor, then made my way up to the rooftop (climbing up pitch-black stairwells with no hand rails lol). From there I explored my way down, floor by floor. It was such a great explore!
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. By the 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; 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.
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. 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 plant focused on stamping and assembly work for buses, ambulances, and limousines. 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.
A 2004 survey by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality found “asbestos materials, lead waste, industrial equipment, storage tanks, other solid / hazardous debris and wastes, and contaminated soils and concrete” in and around the plant. Further studies found the presence of arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cyanide, lead, mercury, nickel, silver, thallium, and PCB’s. The Environmental Protection Agency began remediation work on the site in 2008, removing and disposing of large quantities of soil and contaminated equipment. Today despite over $1 million dollars of work, the site is still considered “contaminated” by the EPA.