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Michigan Central Station

Visible to all who enter the United States via the Ambassador Bridge from Canada, Michigan Central Station stands tall as a fine example of Beaux-Arts design. Upon getting closer to the building, however, it becomes apparent that all is not fine with it; the myriad of missing windows are visible even from a distance. What was once an imposing icon of Detroit's might now stands as a monument to it's decay.

Location attributes for Michigan Central Station
Location   Detroit, Michigan
Built :: Closed   1913 :: 1988
Status   Abandoned
Difficulty   ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Hazards Risk   ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Security Risk   ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
AUE Rating   ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Built in 1913 on the railway mainline to replace the old spur line station, Michigan Central Station, also known as MCS, was the tallest rail station at it's completion. During World War I, the station saw more than 200 trains departing daily, despite the fact that the station itself was located away from downtown Detroit and was difficult to reach as a pedestrian. Most passengers used interurban or streetcar service to reach the station; however, this service was discontinued in the 1930's. While World War II helped maintain the passenger volume at MCS, the following years proved to be trying for the station.

With declining passenger counts, large parts of the station were closed off to save on maintenance in 1967. While things looked better with Amtrak in 1971, ultimately MCS was shuttered in 1988 when the last Amtrak train departed the station. Since then, it has been at the heart of many proposals but ultimately it has sat abandoned, despite attempts from Detroit City Council to have it demolished - a waste, in my opinion. Ownership has changed hands several times over the years, with the current owner being Manuel "Matty" Moroun, the owner of the Ambassador Bridge; but currently the future of the building has yet to be determined.

Most striking about MCS is the 18 story tower attached to it. Most of the tower sat unused, even during the time that MCS was operational, with the top floors never served a function and sat unfurnished. Sadly, during our visit we were unable to gain access to the tower portion of the building, with most of the stairwells to it having been removed. One stairwell was still intact, but access to it was locked off and we couldn't find a way around it.

That said, the main concourse was still wide open, showing off the architecture and design of the building, and made the first trip to MCS worthwhile. One day I will find a way into the tower portion and see the remaining mysteries of this building.

Monument to Decay - August 2013
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