Tourists awed, inspired by the ruins of Detroit

DETROIT -- Detroiters may despise the ruins that surround them, but the hundreds – if not thousands – of tourists who come to see the derelict buildings say the experience helps them understand the Motor City.

There are hundreds of buildings to explore: Jesse Welter, the photographer and urban explorer featured in a Los Angeles Times story, calls the city "an amusement park."

Cindy Lindow has gone on 22 tours with Welter. She lives in St. Clair, about 50 miles north of Detroit, but grew up in the city and has some nostalgia for the way it used to be.

Her uncle was a priest in a church she has toured. Although it’s in ruins now, she likes to picture him walking around, ministering to worshipers. That’s what make the tours so interesting, she said: The buildings are ravaged, but there are still hints of humanity inside.

"It's so devastating – it reminds me of what something would look like after a war," she said. "You almost get a sense of all the people that used to work there -- what a busy place it might have been at once point in time."

Lindow went on tours with Welter because she’s heard it can be dangerous to go to the ruins alone. A friend did and got mugged, and her car windows were shattered, she said.

For more on this LA Times story, click here.