1914 – April 14, 1979
Jeep officials said the building was too expensive to keep, that they needed more parking spaces. It was 64 years old and had been vacant for five years. The demolition was announced less than 60 days before the implosion date.
We were all so disappointed. To think what a beautiful, distinctive, classic and uniquely famous building was being torn down, and for a parking lot.
As the Jeep Administration Building was made ready to blow up, the classic, 63 year old Waldorf Hotel on Summit Street and Madison Avenue was torn down to make way for a bank.
Tommy was a punk rock drummer in a Detroit band. And quite a great drummer, at that. He seemed like the perfect metaphor of the pending doom – he was like the dynamite that was going to blow up the building. Out with the old, in with the new, rock and roll style. I thought punk was the perfect answer to disco.
I asked him to pose for me as the dark force in the building during the weeks leading up to the implosion. We entered the building, we found our way to the engine room, we occupied the torn-up offices and floors, then we managed to get on the roof of the building, where Tommy stood on a ladder over West Toledo.
One day nearly two years after this shoot, Tom said to me, I’m moving to New York, do you want to come? Of course I said yes. We’ve been together ever since. Tommy (his drummer name, his real name is Tom), the proverbial dynamite of the Jeep Administration Building implosion, turned out to be the spark that changed my life.
We actually moved to New York on April 13, staying at a New Jersey hotel that night before we drove over the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan and down Broadway on the morning of April 14, 1981, exactly two years after the implosion of the Jeep Administration Building. It didn’t even cross our minds at the time. We were, after all, two nonchalant punk brats. In fact, not until right now have I ever realized what a fortuitous day that was for us.
Is life the car or the road?
There’s a car involved (a Jeep) there’s a road involved (40 years so far), and there’s some dynamite, in the form of a couple of beating hearts (or is it music?) ….
But we are still sorry to see it go.