Michigan Central Station in Detroit was opened in 1913 and was the tallest railway station in the world. It was the main passenger terminal for Detroit’s rail network however as it was away from Downtown, it always struggled and the last Amtrak train departed in 1988. Many suggested uses for the derelict building include turning it into a casino and the headquarters of the Detroit Police however nothing has come to fruition as yet. It remains in its abandoned state and has become a favourite among America’s urban explorers.
The area around Michigan Central Station has attracted crime and anti-social behaviour. A number of the Detroit’s homeless people sleep in the abandoned train station and despite efforts of the police department to keep people out of the building, mainly due to the fact that internal fittings may dangerous given its time lying derelict, they continue to return.
The following is a fantastic extract about the station from a 2010 article in the New York Times -
The last train pulled away more than 20 years ago from Michigan Central Station, one of thousands of “see-through” buildings here, empty shells from more auspicious times.
Many of the blighted buildings stay up simply because they are too expensive to tear down. Yet Michigan Central Station is in a class of its own. Some city officials consider it among the ugliest behemoths to pockmark Detroit and have ordered its demolition, but others see it as the industrial age’s most gracious relic, a Beaux Arts gem turned gothic from neglect but steeped in haunting beauty.
Since the City Council voted last year to demolish the depot, the building has been granted a reprieve of sorts thanks to more urgent issues confronting the city, including a $400 million budget deficit and a lawsuit to halt the tear down (citing the station’s historic landmark status). Further, several council members, elected since the vote, do not share the previous Council’s enthusiasm for land clearing.
Now preservationists, business owners, state leaders and community activists are taking what feels like a last stab at saving the 97-year-old building before it goes the way of New York’s Pennsylvania Station or, more locally, Tiger Stadium and countless other pieces of old Detroit that have fallen to the wrecking ball in recent years.
Among the recent proposals have been to turn the cavernous brick, steel and stone facade into an extreme sports castle; a casino; a hotel and office park; a fish hatchery and aquarium; an amphitheater; or a railway station again, with high-speed trains.
Having lost nearly a million people in the last 60 years, Detroit has a backlog of thousands of empty office buildings, theaters, houses and hotels. Downtown alone, more than 200 abandoned buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. Most are examples of the Art Deco and neo-Classical styles that were popular before World War II, when Detroit was booming.
As it is, Michigan Central Station, with its 18-story office tower, has been picked to the bare bones by scavengers, who over the years have made off with a treasure-trove of chandeliers and mahogany and marble ornaments.
Location: Detroit, Michigan, USA
Category: Train Station