|Location:||Corktown; Detroit, Michigan|
|Architect:||Warren & Wetmore|
|Reed and Stem|
Built by the same architects who designed New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, Michigan Central Station is an icon of the golden age of railroads and the grand years of the city of Detroit. While the last train departed the station for Chicago in 1988, there has been constant attention and interest in the revitalization and reuse of the magnificent building ever since.
The Station is a massive, awe-inspiring structure that can be seen from a mile away as well as when approaching the city on Interstate 75. Built in 1912, it was the tallest railroad station in the world at the time. The acquisition that preceded the construction of the station was said to be the largest real estate transaction in the state at the time, consisting of over 50 acres and 300-some small homes. What is referred to as the station is actually comprised of two buildings – the station itself and the 18-story office tower attached to it. The tower was envisioned to house a variety of uses, but really only served as office space throughout its history and the upper floors were never used at all.
The interior of the station was finished with the finest materials and details to give visitors a feeling of grandeur as they entered and exited the city of Detroit. Marble floors, Corinthian columns, bronze chandeliers, tall windows, wrought iron gates, and skylights adorned the building. The waiting room, modeled after the public baths of ancient Rome, stretches the length of the building. The building in its entirety is made up of more than eight million bricks, one hundred and twenty-five thousand cubic feet of stone and seven thousand tons of structural steel.
To the north of the station is Roosevelt Park, providing a dramatic vista and grand entryway to the station in concert with the principles of the City Beautiful movement. Because automobiles were not common at that time, parking facilities were not constructed for the station. Unfortunately, this has contributed to its decline as the automobile took over and left the station isolated. The station was used heavily in the 20s, 30s, and 40s, but after World War Two ended it lost significant ridership and closed in 1988. In 2009, the Michigan Central Station Preservation Society was formed to lead the fight for restoration. Since then the owners have invested over one million dollars into the building.
If You Go:
The Station is located about a mile west of Downtown Detroit, just south of Michigan Avenue. While there is no designated area for parking, most visitors park on the street as there is not much traffic around. It is a popular place among sightseers, history buffs, and photographers alike so there are likely to be others there making it a safe place to visit during the day. In the summer, you may even see a bridal party taking photos in front of the building as we did.
This work by Diane is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.