Friday, January 3, 2014

The Michigan Central Train Station

I don't normally like to post pictures of the ruins of Detroit on this blog but this station was in the news recently, so I figured I would get some pictures of it.
 The Michigan Central Station became operational on December 26, 1913 after the old station burned down.  It was planned as part of a project that included the tunnel that goes from Detroit to Windsor.  The old station was located on a spur line and was inconvenient for the passengers.  The architectural style is known as Beaux Arts.
 At the time of its construction, it was the tallest train station in the world.  While it is outside of the downtown area, it was hoped that this would spur development in the area around it but that never quite happened (unlike the Fisher Building).
 At the peak of railroad travel in the early days of this station, about 200 trains per day would pass through it.  In the 1940's, more than 2,000 passengers would pass through per day and about 3,000 employees worked in the building itself.
 After World War II, passenger traffic started to decline with the advent of other means of travel.  It didn't really help that the station was kind of out of the way.  In 1956, there was an attempt to sell the station for a third of its building cost but that fell through.   In 1967, the main terminal was closed down because of the high maintenance costs versus the volume of passengers passing through.
 Things started to look up in 1971 as Amtrak took over passenger service.  The main terminal was reopened and a renovation project began in 1978 but further renovations were not performed and another deal to retask the building fell through.  In 1988, Amtrak discontinued use of the station but still used a platform for passenger service until the opening of its terminal on Woodward in 1994.
 In 1996, the building was bought by Manuel Maroun.  He's the guy that also owns the Ambassador Bridge.
In 2006, the Detroit City Council voted to have the building demolished but was sued under the National Perservation Act.  So the building remains standing.  If there is one building that stands as a symbol of what used to be Detroit, it is this one.  There have been a number of plans to renovate this building but none of them have come to fruition.  Much like the city, this building's future is undetermined.

3 comments:

cheerfulwaster said...

I love this article as much as I love architecture and buildings. You've captured here the hope of a new building and the uncertainty of a whole city. Wonderful.

cheerfulwaster said...

I love this article as much as I love architecture and buildings. You've captured here the hope of a new building and the uncertainty of a whole city. Wonderful.

Ken West said...

Thanks for the pictures. Hadn't seen thee building in years. I went to a Tiger game while they were at Tiger Stadium and took pictures of the station then. I have wondered what happened to it.