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Jonathan Peters, Instagramming our History

November 27, 2019 11:21 AM | Deleted user

Historians, photographers, and curious citizens have long been interested in the beauty behind Metro Detroit's architecture. Massive coffee table books and academic works have been published on the buildings that reside in our region.

But now, with the rise of social media, more people than ever are being exposed to the region's architectural history through the devices that they hold in the palm of their own hand.

One person who has been involved in Detroit area architecture's rise on social media is Jonathan Peters, better known on Instagram as JPInThe313.

Peters, 33, is a Detroiter through and through. You can normally spot him in a Tigers hat and a Carhartt jacket, riding public transit, and conversing with locals outside of Detroit's historic buildings always with his phone in hand, ready to snap a picture of an architectural gem that catches his eye.

When asked what makes our region's architecture special, Peters offers an eloquent but simple answer "Very few U.S. cities," he tells me, "can boast the building stock of our fair metropolis."

But when you dive a little deeper it becomes clear that there is something else that drives Peters' love for Detroit's architecture: humanity.

Peters believes that architecture tells stories and not just the stories of the big names normally associated with architecture, the designer, the engineers, and the business owners. Peters' brand of architectural documentation brings a light to neighborhoods and residents. To Peters, understanding architecture is essential if we want to understand our past. 

"Architecture tells stories. Churches, for example, speak of what a neighborhood once was like, particularly the ethnic group that originally settled there. Detroit has many examples of this."

This people first approach has made Peters quite popular. He says that the best thing about his time on Instagram has been all the friends he made and he is under the impression that this type of attitude can be useful around the region. He beleives that if we continue to focus on people's stories, we can bridge our divides. "Its time for a new direction."

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