What is industrial tourism?

Do you want to spend your vacation traveling (literally and figuratively) across some of the world’s best wine-producing regions? Perhaps you’re a techie, in which case a tour of Silicon Valley would be more to your liking. In either case, these vacations are referred to as ‘culture tourism’ or ‘industrial tourism,’ depending on whether the destination is primarily about seeing the industrial sites linked with that region.

While we’ve been ‘doing’ the industrial tourism ‘thing’ for at least as long as we’ve been fascinated by how things are manufactured, it’s only been in the last three or four decades that it’s actually matured into its own tourism sector. Urban explorers go on roof walks, tour industrial buildings and structures, abandoned lands, and underground structures. This activity has become a sort of tourism in Europe, the United States, and Russia over the previous decade. Tour companies and individual guides began organizing tours and excursions to such locations across the globe.

The fascination with such locales is developing as a result of its mystique. There, you may learn more about the city’s history and the people who lived and still live there. After all, the city’s life is made up of more than just monuments and palaces; it also includes factories that feed, clothe, and shoe us. This contradictory perception is inherent in industrial tourism around the world, as remains of industry’s past and bastions of its present entice visitors interested in society’s evolution over time. Here are a couple recommended by the BBC.

Detroit is a must-see destination for industrial tourism. It was once the heart of the United States’ automotive industry and an economic powerhouse. At the Piquette Avenue Plant, visitors may learn about the history of Ford Motor Company and see where the Model T, the first affordable car for average Americans, was born.

Visitors may observe manufacturing in action at the Ford Rouge Factory, which is the only public Detroit automobile factory tour. It’s just a few minutes away from Piquette Avenue. Tours of the assembly factory, observation deck, and legacy gallery, which houses five antique Ford automobiles, are available at the Rouge.

The city’s ruins provide an even grittier insight into Detroit’s industrial heritage throughout the metropolis. Photographers, graffiti painters, skateboarders, and even paintballers have been drawn to the abandoned Packard Motor Car Plant on East Grand Boulevard. Locals’ admiration for the crumbling structure is captured in a video by the Detroit News.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard, which opened in 1801 and was used to produce warships, including the first steam-powered military ship in the United States, the Fulton Steam Frigate, is next on the list. The shipyard was repurposed into a public park after it closed in 1966. It has grown into a 300-acre industrial park with over 40 structures, including residential and business space. The Brooklyn Historical Society offers Navy Yard bus and bike excursions.

The island of Belle Isle in Virginia is a location of contradictions. The island lies smack dab in the midst of downtown Richmond, sitting on the James River and rich with freshwater swimming spots. Trees, cliffs, hiking paths, and wildlife coexist with abandoned industrial sites in the park, which is a strange mix of natural and unnatural.

Belle Isle is an eerie and peaceful site to visit, once home to a hydroelectric power station, an iron foundry, a granite quarry, and a Civil War prison camp and cemetery. Consider going for a soothing swim in the park’s blue, freshwater holes after touring the island’s abandoned buildings, a popular site for locals seeking relief from the heat. Tubing, kayaking, and canoeing are popular activities near Belle because of the James River’s strong rapids.

In Poland, Silesia has the highest concentration of industrial objects. The Industrial Monuments Route includes around thirty monuments related to mining, metallurgy, electricity generation, railroads, communications, water production, and food production. Historic machine parks, industries preserved as heritage parks, museums of industry and technology, and public utility buildings are among the places visitors can visit. Every year in June, the Industriada celebration honors the Industrial Monuments Route.

Finally, the BMW Plant in Munich offers a really unique experience. Visitors are taken on tours of the automobile factory, where they can see how parts are made, engines are created, and automobiles are assembled. Visits to the BMW press shop, body shop, paint shop, and engine assembly area are included in the tours.

Check out my related post: Have you visited Katong?

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