Lonely Planet Writer

Detroit is now offering tours of the historic Packard Automotive Plant in all its ruined glory

Visitors to Detroit, Michigan, may be interested in a public tour that is being offered of the historic Packard Automotive Plant, where luxury cars were once made.

Tours of the historic Packard Automotive Planet are being offered in Detroit. Image: Pure Detroit

The plant was designed by Albert Kahn and it opened in 1903, when it was considered the most modern automobile manufacturing facility in the world. Set on 40 acres, it closed in 1958, although other businesses operated there or used it for storage until the late 1990s.

Tours of the historic Packard Automotive Planet are being offered in Detroit. Image: Pure Detroit

Since then, the plant has been a haven for graffiti artists, urban explorers, paint-ballers and auto-scrappers. Much of the wiring and other material has been scavenged, although the reinforced concrete structures remain pretty much intact and are structurally sound.

Tours of the historic Packard Automotive Planet are being offered in Detroit. Image: Trisha Ping

Various parts of the upper floors of some of the buildings have collapsed, and there have been several aborted attempts at demolition over the years.

Tours of the historic Packard Automotive Planet are being offered in Detroit. Image: Trisha Ping

Pure Detroit and Arte Express Detroit are now offering public walking tours of the plant, but because of the poor condition of the premises, only adults are allowed to take the 90-minute tour and it is not wheelchair-accessible. It offers an opportunity to learn about the plant’s past, explore the current facilities, and share in the vision of the future development and rehabilitation of this magnificent structure.

Tours of the historic Packard Automotive Planet are being offered in Detroit. Image: Trisha Ping

Tickets cost $40 per person, and must be purchased in advance, because only 30 people at a time can take the tour. Tours take place twice daily on Saturdays, and although they are currently full through October, it is expected that they will continue while the site is being redeveloped.

Tours of the historic Packard Automotive Planet are being offered in Detroit. Image: Pure Detroit

Further information on the tour is available here.