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In pictures: The birthplace of the Boss – A tour of Detroit

When he was given the chance to drive Ford’s 2013 Boss 302 Mustang, Globe Drive columnist Peter Cheney decided to take it to Detroit, birthplace of the U.S. car industry – and the 1969 Boss 302 that launched Ford’s legendary pony car brand. His trip provided a sobering look at the state of an amazing city ravaged by industrial downturn.

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The restored Fox Theatre on Woodward Ave. is a Detroit landmark. Opened in 1928, it was the first theatre designed with a speaker system for the playing of movies with sound.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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The elaborate metal doors of the Fox Theatre symbolize the wealth and power of early 20th century Detroit, when the city led the world of manufacturing. Reflected in the doors is Tiger Stadium.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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Heading into Detroit on the Ambassador Bridge in the 2013 Boss 302 Mustang. Completed in 1929, the Ambassador bridge carries more than 25 per cent of the merchandise that passes between Canada and the U.S. The bridge is owned by Matty Moroun, a billionaire who lives in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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The humble appearance of Motown records belied the powerhouse operation within. Founder Berry Gordy discovered some of the most influential artists of our time, and recorded their seminal works in a basement studio lined with plywood and hardware-store tiles. Between 1959 and 1972, the Motown operation ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Among the artists who composed and recorded here are Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes and the Jackson 5.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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A woman walks with her children in a devastated neighborhood near Detroit’s Woodward Ave., one of the grand thoroughfares that in past times saw the city dubbed “the Paris of North America.”

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Detroit resident Khalil Fareed admires the 2013 Boss 302 Mustang on a street near the downtown core.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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A deserted apartment building just off Woodward Ave. The downturn of the U.S. car industry over the past decades has resulted in a steady decline in Detroit’s population.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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Detroit’s once-prosperous neighbourhoods are now filled with a rising number of abandoned homes. This year, the median selling price of a home in Detroit was $9,000.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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A man works on his car on the street outside his home in a downtown Detroit neighbourhood.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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Mechanic Allan Hill stands with 2013 Boss 302 Mustang outside his repair shop at the abandoned Packard Automotive plant on East Grand Boulevard. At 67, Mr. Hill has witnessed the decline of one the world’s great industrial empires. “It’s sad what happened here,” he said. “But Detroit will come back.”

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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Abandoned supply and assembly buildings at the Packard Automotive plant in east Detroit. The plant was closed in 1958.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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Inside the abandoned Packard Automotive plant in east Detroit. When it opened in 1907, the 40-acre plant was considered one of the most advanced industrial facilities in the world. It was shut down in 1958.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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A doll left by a visitor rests on a rusted steel beam at the Packard Automotive plant. Built with reinforced concrete that has resisted repeated attempts at demolition since it was closed in 1958, the plant is a popular destination for urban adventurers.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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A wrecked boat sits in an assembly bay at the abandoned Packard Automotive plant in east Detroit. Once a wonder of the industrial world, the defunct factory has turned into a dumping ground, filled with everything from construction debris to shopping carts to unwanted boats.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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Since its closure 54 years ago, the Packard Automotive plant has become a destination for urban explorers and graffiti artists.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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The 2013 Boss Mustang in front of a flyover bridge at the abandoned Packard Automotive plant. Designers installed bridges like this one to carry cars and parts over the streets that divided sections of the vast facility.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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The Boss Mustang in front of an abandoned home in Detroit’s east-end McDougall-Hunt neighborhood. Many of the homes have been decorated by artists involved with the Heidelberg Project, designed to reclaim the neighborhood from the forces of urban decay.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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Street graffiti and homes turned into art installations typify the Heidelberg Project. The project was started by resident Tyree Guyton in 1986 after he returned from a tour of duty with the U.S. Army to find his neighbourhood changed sharply for the worse: “It looked like a bomb went off,” he said.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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Thirteen-year-old Zamera Gandy with the Boss 302 Mustang near her home on Heidelberg Ave. in east-end Detroit. Zamera has mixed feelings about the Heidelberg Project, which has turned her neighbourhood into an urban art installation. “Everyone talks about it, but to me it just looks like junk piled on junk,” she said. “That’s how I see it.”

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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The Boss 302 Mustang in front of a liquor and lottery outlet on Detroit’s Gratiot Ave., just a few kilometres from the place where Henry Ford set up the first assembly line in the early 20th century. The decline of the U.S. car industry has had a dramatic impact on Detroit. The city’s population has declined, and the median income is now less than $27,000.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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The Boss 302 Mustang outside a shuttered meat plant in Detroit’s east end. The area has become a mecca for graffiti artists.

Peter Cheney/The Globe and Mail

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