Michigan Central Station
As one would enter off Roosevelt Park, they would walk into the buildings center piece, the main waiting room. The 54.5 feet tall waiting room modeled after a roman bath, stretches the length of the building and is decorated with Guastavino arches, columns, and three arched 21 by 40 feet windows flanked by four smaller windows. Beyond the waiting room, you could buy your ticket from one of the many ornate ticket counters, or walk down the 28 feet tall arcade to visit a newsstand, drugstore, cigar shop, or barbershop.
In addition to the arcade and waiting room, the station featured a restaurant with vaulted ceilings, a main concourse with a copper skylight, and a lunch counter.
Passengers arrived at the main waiting room, the street car terminal at the east side of the building, or the carriage entrance at the west end of the building. The only parking the building contained was an underground parking garage, which was not a problem since most people took the street car, but by 1938 the street cars were gone and the MCS seemed to be isolated from the city. Much like many other train terminals built at the time, the location of the station was chosen because owners thought the downtown would expand to the area, but the Great Depression ultimately ended the outward expansion.
The station was seeing a daily rush of people, but automobiles soon phased out trains to Chicago. The MCS was being less used, as it depended the most on passenger travel. In an attempt to modernize the station, the restaurant had its vaulted ceilings covered with a drop ceiling, and was renamed the Mercury Room.
Since the MCS was being less used, an attempt to sell the station for $5,000,000 in 1956 failed, as did another attempt in 1963. A decision was made in 1967 to close the main waiting room entrance. Soon after the restaurant, and the businesses in the arcade closed. The building seemed to have a temporary revival when Amtrak took over passenger travel in 1971. In 1975 the main waiting room entrance was re-opened and 3 years later, a $1,250,000 renovation began, which replaced track, cleaned the building, and added a bus terminal.
The building was sold in 1984 to create a transportation center that never materialized. Passenger travel was declining to the point the station was set to close. On January 5th, 1988, the last train departed and the doors closed.
Throughout the 90s, the building remained wide open to trespass, and during that time vandals seized the opportunity and stole items of value such as brass fixtures, plaster, and copper wiring. In the late 90s, the building owner erected a razor wire fence and proposed an international trade processing center that never materialized.
In 2004, Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick announced plans to use the building as Detroit's police headquarters, but by mid-2005 it was determined it would not be used. During the month of January 2005, the station was used as a cameo in a futuristic movie titled "The Island." (www.buildingsofdetroit.com/places/mcs). It was also used in the filming of the 2007 Transformers movie.
The early 2010s saw a bit of work being done on the building, including some asbestos abatement, roof work, window installation, restoration of electricity and lighting, and plans for $676,000 in rehab work. Owners have received permits to install a new 9,000-pound capacity freight elevator, which will allow for the continued installation of new windows and roof work.
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