Michigan Central Depot -- © 2011 Joe Braun Photography

The front of Michigan Central Depot as seen from Roosevelt Park on a foggy morning.  BUY PHOTO

Like so many other photographers, urban explorers, and railfans, I have been completely fascinated by the Michigan Central Station building. MCS calls back to the grandeur of Detroit's historic past, yet also reflects the sad plight of today's urban decay. When talking about MCS, the conversation always seems to focus on two topics:

It is important to note that the station's demise started long before it was closed in 1988. Due to several fatal flaws and unfortunate events, I would argue that Michigan Central Station was doomed from the start as evidenced by its slow decline over the decades. Owners and curators have just as much to do with the destruction of the building as random vandals.

So is there any hope to bring the station back to its original grandeur? Probably not. There have been numerous proposals over the past decade, but none that are truly commercially viable or sustainable. The only crazy plan that I could see working would be to convert the building into a train-themed casino and hotel that calls back to the glory days of the 1920s. Slot machines and gaming tables could take up the Waiting Room and Concourse, cashiers could occupy the old ticket counters, and the arcade shops and restaurant could be brought back to life. The upper floors of the old office tower could be converted to hotel rooms with outstanding views of the whole area.

The only other gimmick that would be needed would be some sort of train-themed roller coaster ride where the old train shed used to be. Yes, this is a sick fantasy, but maybe it is true that you have to "destroy the village in order to save it..." Until then, MCS will function as the backdrop for the occasional post-apocalyptic movie that gets filmed in Detroit. The corpse of MCS lives on.

Michigan Central Depot -- © 2008 Joe Braun Photography

A final view of MCS from Depressed Drive.  BUY PHOTO

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