Detroit: A member of 60 Minutes goes home

While reporting in Detroit, a 60 Minutes cameraman went back to his childhood home -- and found that it was the only surviving house in the neighborhood

This week on 60 Minutes, correspondent Bob Simon and a team of 60 Minutes producers and camera crews travel to Detroit, Mich., for a look at the city's blight and bankruptcy. "It made me think of Mogadishu," says Simon. "Just completely wrecked."

During the team's reporting trip, Simon discovered that one of his own cameramen, Greg Andracke, had grown up on the city's East Side.

"I've been with Greg in many, many countries and in many bad situations. And, frankly, I never knew he was from Detroit until we got to Detroit," says Simon.

The crew convinced Andracke to go back to his childhood home on Sheridan Street to see what had become of it. What he found was emblematic of the city's fate: Andracke's neighborhood had been destroyed, and his childhood home was the last one standing on the block.

In the 1950s, "it was sort of like what you would imagine would be the ideal neighborhood in a Hollywood movie," he recalled. "Now I come back and it's just empty fields."

In this 60 Minutes Overtime feature, Andracke remembers the Detroit of his youth, through a series of photographs he took as a young still photographer at Wayne State University.

In a sense, Detroit was Andracke's first photographic subject. His father, a tool and die maker at Ford Motor Company, had a passion for landscape photography and built a darkroom in the family's basement. The younger Andracke, inspired by his father's Ansel Adams-style scenic photographs, began to photograph the landscape around him: the city of Detroit.

When Detroit race riots erupted in 1967, Andracke grabbed his Nikon F camera and documented the chaos and smoking ruins. He was a college student at the time.

"I went into different parts of the city-- without any press credentials or anything-- just a camera, a few rolls of film, and my car," says Andracke. "Considering what I've done for 60 Minutes, it's pretty tame."

Since then, Andracke has covered armed conflicts around the world, everywhere from El Salvador to Afghanistan, for CBS News and other news organizations. Although he left Detroit as a young man, Andracke never stopped photographing the city. He estimates that news organizations like CBS News have sent him back to Detroit on assignment about a dozen times in the past 35 years.

"Detroit has become, on the American landscape, a place that tells a lot of stories," says Andracke. "To me, it's a place to photograph and to observe."

Photos courtesy the Detroit Historical Society

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