Decades of corporate mismanagement, incompetent government policies, shortsighted agendas and misplaced ego caused the decline of Detroit's, and therefore America's, automotive industrial might. Mother nature doesn't care for such trivialities. She's been busy taking back what's hers. Gallery below.

Ailanthus altissima, the tree of heaven, the stink tree, better known around these parts as the ghetto palm. It's a common sight amidst the wreckage of this city. Detroit is certainly no stranger to tough times, after a meteoric ascension as a center of power and prosperity in the first half of the 20th century, including the post-war boom after serving as the "Arsenal of Democracy," it's been mostly downhill since.

Before our latest bout of national economic diarrhea, Detroit was busy pulling itself up by the bootstraps, rebuilding the downtown city center. Employment was rising and even property values were increasing. Then the bottom fell out. The economy went to crap, the assumed corruption of our politicians was confirmed in the most embarrassing way possible and the once-humming factories halted because people stopped buying cars.


This has happened before, and it took the same toll then as today. The factories and skyscrapers, office buildings and industry went silent then too, but many never restarted, and as a result, Mother Nature is slowly reclaiming parts of Detroit.

It's insidious, slow, unnoticed, but over time, the grasses grow tall, weeds fill in the cracks of once pristine and well-worn sidewalks, loading bays flood and become urban wetlands. Ailanthus altissima gains a foothold and spreads like wild fire. Soon, roofs collapse, foundations are compromised, and nature returns that which men built out of raw ambition back to its origins. It's happening today, and nobody seems to notice. Hit next to witness the astonishing power of nature to quickly return man-made structures to whence they came.

Editor's Note: Ben took the photos but hasn't yet had a chance to identify the buildings. Anyone wanting to help in that process, leave IDs matched to photo numbers in the comments below and we'll add them in.

Obviously, this is the spread of the much hated "city garden," a slang term for random overgrowth. Since popular wisdom holds that its impossible for Detroit to be a pleasant place to live, this must be some type of obvious rot where crack heads hide and gang members hang out late at night.