Saturday, February 2, 2013

Random Wanderings Around Depot Town

Today was Shiver on the River at the Aquarium on Belle Isle but Mother Nature decided to leave a little gift for us and I didn't feel like heading down to Detroit in that.  So I decided to stick around town today and I was feeling kind of bummed about that but then I remembered that there are some pretty cool photo subjects around here.
 I decided that I would do lunch at Sidetrack which meant that my day would start out in Depot Town.  Why is it called Depot Town you ask?  Well let me tell you.  There happens to be a train depot there.  Pretty clever of them?  Anyway, this isn't the Depot, this is the Freight House which is across the tracks.
 The Ypsilanti Freight House is part of the railroad complex that was built by the Michigan Central Railroad.  The first line from Detroit to Ypsilanti was built in 1838 and the first train arrived in February of that year.  This Freighthouse was built in 1878.  Currently it lays fallow as they are in the process of renovating it.  During the spring, summer and fall, the Farmer's Market is held in this area.
 And here is the train depot.  It was built in 1864 by the Michigan Central Railroad.  In 1939, a train collided into it and it was extensively rebuilt.  In 1984, Amtrak discontinued its Ypsilanti service and sold the depot in 1987.  It has remained unused since then.
 I've heard rumors that Amtrak may bring back the Ypsilanti stop.  That would be cool.  I like the Ann Arbor station but this is much closer for me and the parking situation would probably be better.

The Michigan Central itself was incorporated in 1846 to establish rail service between Detroit and St. Joseph.  It then connected to Chicago by ship.  It started as the Detroit and St. Joseph in 1831.  The railroad ran into problems acquiring cheap land and had to be bailed out by the city of Detroit and the State of Michigan in 1837.  At this time, it was named the Central Railroad of Michigan.  By 1840, the railroad ran out of money after reaching Dexter, MI.  In 1846, the railroad was sold to Michigan Central after reaching Kalamazoo.  Eventually the railroad would reach Chicago.
 The passenger service between Detroit and Chicago was known as the Wolverine (and still is).
 In 1867, the Michigan Central was taken over by the New York Central but was operated as an independent subsidiary.  The New York Central then merged with the Pennsylvania Railroad to form the Penn Central.  That folded and became Conrail.  In 1998, the line was taken over by Norfolk-Southern.  Such is the life of many railroads.
 Another view of the caboose.
 The New York Central began life as the Mohawk and Hudson Railroad in 1826.  It was chartered to connect Schenectady to Albany.  It was an attempt to replace part of the Erie Canal.  In 1847, it became the Albany and Schenectady Railroad.  Various other railroads were formed that were similar to this arrangement.
 In 1867, these various local railroads were merged to form the New York Central system.  Also at this time, the railroad was acquired by Cornelius Vanderbilt and he went about acquiring railroads outside of New York.  By 1876, it went from New York to just past Minneapolis.  With the advent of the freeway, the New York Central started to fall on hard times.  In 1968, the New York Central merged with the Pennsylvania Railroad to form the Penn Central Railroad.  This didn't last long as the Penn Central Railroad still had many of the problems of it's consituents.  There may have also been some financial shenanigans.  In 1976, the US Government formed Conrail to absorb Penn Central.  If this didn't happen, rail service in the northeast would have ceased.  In 1998, Conrail was dissolved and it's lines split up between Norfolk-Southern and CSX.

It's kind of a shame to not see some of the great names of American history anymore but at least some of the railroads are maintaining the history of these old railroads.  I would love to see one of the Norfolk-Southern heritage trains find its way to this area.
 So now we get to Depot Town itself.  Many of the buildings were built in the mid to late 1800's.
 Seriously, one of these days, I should try to seek out this paint billboards.  I know there are quite a few in Detroit.  I think there are some in Ann Arbor.
 City Body was formed in 1930.  I've had to use them once and they did a pretty good job with my car.  It was them that told me about mini-torts with insurance.
 Looking down the street at Depot Town itself.
 This clock tower was built in 1997 but is supposed to be a reminder of a similar one from the 1800's.
 Another view of the freighthouse.
 Some other buildings.  Like I said before, I think there is a set of blueprints somewhere that says, "Quaint Midwestern Town" as many towns in this area look similar.
 A shot of the storefronts.
 Looking down the street from the clock tower.
 Looking west from the clock tower area.
 Another shot with the clock tower.
 This building now houses the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum.  Before that, this was the last Hudson dealership in the country.
 The Thompson Block had its origins across the street from the current building when Mark Norris decided to built a hotel there in 1838.  The Michigan Central acquired this land in 1860 and Mr. Norris built the current structure pictured here in 1860.  During the Civil War, this was used as a mustering point.  In 1869, this building was bought by Oliver Thompson.  It was fine for a while and then there were problems.  In 2009, this building caught fire and it looks like it was mostly repaired.
 Another shot of the Depot.
 Another shot of the Hudson building.
 I kind of liked the transparent reflective here.  But I think I would have liked it more if that jerk photographer weren't in the way.
 Same with this one, only that jerk photographer made his presence more known.
 A shot of the sign.
 I love neon.
 Another shot of the building itself.
 One more attempt at the transparent reflective.  This time the jerk photographer got out of the way.
 A shot of Depot Town from in front of the Thompson building.
 Another shot of the freighthouse.
 Another set of buildings in Depot Town.  Sadly the bright colors don't go with the blah day.
 And a shot of the front of Sidetrack.
 Another angle of the colorful buildings.
And one last shot of Depot Town.  Well last for today anyway.

No comments: