Detroit by Night: Haunting, Desolate Streetscapes by Camilo José Vergara


For more than four decades, Camilo José Vergara has photographed the poorest and most segregated communities in urban America. Both a sociologist and a photographer, Vergara is probably best known for his photos of urban blight in 1970s New York. But for over twenty five years he has also pointed his lens at Detroit, to document not just the city’s decline but the quiet resilience of its people and its urban landscape.

“Hey man. What do you do? Why are you taking pictures?”

These days, I am particularly drawn to Detroit in the darkest hours of the night. As I drive slowly along through a crumbling cityscape, the car seems to float when the road is smooth. In the dark my camera reveals things in a new way: gentle light falling on the counter of a soul food restaurant; an eerie corner house with its collapsed roof in a yard…

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