Michigan Central Station is a train depot located in Detroit, Michigan. It was in operation from December 26, 1913 until its official closure on January 4, 1988. In its just over 74 years of operation, the station sent thousands of trains on their way and had thousands of people pass through its halls. Unfortunately, due to the decline in train travel because of the increase in automobile as well as air travel, the station became more of a burden to operate than a necessary amenity.
The original building consisted of a 3-story train depot and an 18-story office tower. It cost about $2.5 million, which is almost $67 million today. The Depot housed a General Waiting room with benches throughout to seat the many passengers waiting for their trains. On the sides of the General Waiting Room there was a Reading Room for the men, and a Women’s Room that was attached to restrooms that also contained areas to bathe if needed. The ticket office was in the center of the building with a restaurant and lunch counter located in a room right behind it. Extending out across from the ticket office was the Arcade Hall. This contained a newsstand, a drug store, a cigar shop, a barber shop, a telegraph office, and a phone room that housed payphones. This hallway also led to the Elevator Lobby and the doors leading to the trolley loop. Continuing through the building between the ticket office and the arcade hall was the Concourse with copper skylights and the gates opening onto the ramp that led to the concourse under the tracks where passengers could then take stairs leading up to the respective trains. To the left of the Concourse was the Men’s toilets and smoke room. To the right was the Carriage house that was originally used for carriages and later for taxis.
Unfortunately, since its closure in 1988, the station has been bought and sold multiple times and in the process was left open to vandals. Almost all, if not all, of the windows throughout the entire building have been smashed. Graffiti covers the walls, and can even be found in the elevator shafts. Much of the marble has been taken off the walls and the columns, and the brass fixtures and railings have been taken by looters. The rest of the interior has deteriorated due to its being open to the elements and the concourse ceiling has been removed because of how much it had deteriorated.
This station is seen by many people as a symbol of the rise and fall of Detroit. Some of the local community want to see it torn down due to its depressing appearance and reminder of what they have lost. However, this building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is an incredible building that should be preserved and reopened. Since there is no longer a need for such a large-scale train station anymore, I decided to turn the building into a community space. The new plan for the building contains multiple areas to rent out for retail. The original restaurant would be converted into a café with the carriage house being enclosed and turned into the new restaurant. The Ticket office would be converted into a soda and Ice cream shoppe and the Concourse would be converted into a skylight, allowing for real trees to be placed throughout the space and seating interspersed among them. The General Waiting room would be restored to its original glory and would be used as a rentable space for conferences, dinners, bazaars, and other such events. The tower would be made ready to rent out as office space as well as several of the floors being used for community amenities such as a boys and girls club and an additional banquet hall, as well as additional retail.