The Michigan Central Depot , which still stands majestically on Michigan Avenue over the Corktown section of Detroit near the Ambassador Bridge , was built in the early part of the 20th century after the original Detroit train station burned down in 1913. Designed and built in neoclassical style by the same architects responsible for the New York Grand Central Station, the building included underground train tracks and 18 stories above which were meant for office space, but never completed.
Photo Credits: Forgotten Detroit and Laura Sternberg
Passenger cars for personal transportation were not common at the time the Michigan Central Depot was built, but by the 1960s, the expanding use of automobiles, the newly built interstate highway system, and the growth of air travel had all but rendered train travel obsolete. The Michigan Central Depot, which was meant to be connected to the rest of Detroit by street car, was never meant to be isolated from the main area of downtown Detroit. The plan was to have a thriving business district develop around the Depot, but this plan also never materialized. In the 1970s, Amtrak bought the Depot, and over a million dollars of renovations were completed, but to no avail. In 1988, the last train departed the Depot and it was closed.
There are have been several proposals for reviving the Michigan Central Depot as office space or other uses, but the only times the Michigan Depot has been used recently is as movie backgrounds (The Island--2005; The Transformers--2006). Historic preservationists are still working to save the building, but at present the Detroit City Council is moving ahead to demolish the Michigan Central Depot and find other uses for the site.
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