Michigan Central Station (also known as Michigan Central Depot or MCS), built in 1913 for the Michigan Central Railroad, was Detroit, Michigan's, passenger rail depot from its opening in 1913, when the previous Michigan Central Station burned, until the last Amtrak train pulled away from the station on January 6, 1988.

The unfinished building began operating as Detroit's main passenger depot in 1913 after the older Michigan Central Station burned on December 26, 1913. The growing trend toward increased automobile use was not a large concern in 1913, as is evidenced in the design of the building. Most passengers would arrive at and leave from Michigan Central Station by interurban service or streetcar and not as pedestrians due to the station's remote distance from downtown Detroit. The reason for the placement this far from downtown was a hope that the station would be an anchor for prosperity to follow.

Initially, things were looking up as Henry Ford began to buy land near the station in the 1920s and plans were made, but the Great Depression and other circumstances squelched the development efforts. Further compounding MCS's future problems was the fact that no large parking facility was included in the original design of the facility. So when the interurban service was discontinued not even two decades after MCS opened and streetcar service following in 1938, MCS was effectively isolated from a large majority of the population.

However, even with fewer means to get to and from the station, passenger volume did not decrease immediately. During World War II, the station saw heavy military use, but once the war ended, passenger volume began to decline. Service was cut back and passenger traffic became so low that the owners of the station attempted to sell the facility in 1956 for $5 million, one-third of its original building cost in 1913.

The main waiting room and entrance were reopened in 1975 and a $1.25 million renovation projects was begun in 1978. Only 6 years later, the building was sold for a transportation center project that never materialized. Then, on January 6, 1988, the last Amtrak train pulled away from the station after it was decided to close the facility.

coordinates : 42°19'44.44"N 83°04'40.26"W
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pictures sources :
Derek Farr

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  1. Anonymous // Sunday, October 26, 2008 1:11:00 PM  

    I had to look, even knowing how sad it makes me when I see the MCS.

    There are so many abandoned buildings in Detroit, all of them despoiled by vandals and taken over by the homeless drug addicts.

    Buildings like these can never be replaced and it breaks my heart to see what Detroit has allowed to happen.

  2. The Artificial Owl // Monday, October 27, 2008 1:24:00 AM  

    Hi Sue,

    I discovered Detroit very recently and i keep finding tons of abandoned buildings ... The first time I saw pictures of them (including skycrapers) I just refused to believe it.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Anonymous // Monday, October 27, 2008 10:28:00 AM  

    And yet occasionally there's hope. See for the grand reopening of the former Book Cadillac Hotel, now known as the Westin Book Cadillac.

    Unfortunately, you will have a year's worth of posts just from Detroit alone. Google "urban exploration Detroit" and you'll see what I mean.

    Love your site, btw. It's a corollary to mine in a way. I can't save the office buildings and lovely homes in Detroit, but I can help to save lighthouses. :-)


  4. The Artificial Owl // Tuesday, October 28, 2008 12:35:00 AM  

    I didn't know about that building...I will check. I have one lighthouse on the blog : It looks really good, a bit like technology from a Jules Verne novel : Abandoned Victorian Metal Lighthouse

    More posts about abandoned lighthouses soon ; )

  5. Anonymous // Tuesday, January 27, 2009 11:47:00 PM  

    Wow, this place looks like it has so much potential. Awesome photos.

  6. Ghaz // Saturday, February 28, 2009 2:58:00 PM  

    Whenever I drive by there, it always looks so eeire. It's like a monolith, rising from one of detroit's many stark, empty ubran fields.

  7. Anonymous // Saturday, February 28, 2009 5:02:00 PM  

    What a tragedy. I saw this building at a distance when crossing the bridge to Canada - craning my neck to see more of it. Thanks so much for the great pictures.

    Mark Patterson -
    Canton Melbourne QC

  8. Species Hatred // Sunday, March 01, 2009 4:37:00 PM  

    It just goes to show, you can't be too careful.

  9. Anonymous // Wednesday, March 04, 2009 3:11:00 PM  

    Wouldn't this be an awesome "sister museum" to Musee D'Orsay in Paris?

    Maybe the City of Detroit could find some art grant funding and create just that in this beautiful building.

  10. Anonymous // Wednesday, March 04, 2009 8:13:00 PM  

    how much is it to buy??

  11. Anonymous // Thursday, March 05, 2009 10:55:00 AM  

    It's amazing that Americans who as a nation find countries like the UK cute because of its history and amazing buildings can then let amazing buildings like this fall into disrepair.
    Save it now before you regret it!

  12. Anonymous // Friday, March 06, 2009 7:40:00 AM  

    i agree with previous posters
    This is sad sad sad.

    specially when one looks at these new age buildings going up.

    they are so damn ugly. and will be even uglier once they are abandoned

    But these ones still look amazing in the shape they are in.

  13. Anonymous // Friday, March 06, 2009 12:46:00 PM  

    It's true. Despite all the vandalism and decay, the beauty still remains.

  14. Unknown // Friday, March 06, 2009 8:10:00 PM  

    it is very sad
    gm, ford, and Chrysler have spent 100's of millions on buildings in Detroit. restoring, making available for the public. Plus their own buildings. This forsaking of our buildings is so common place.

    People in Detroit have been hit harder then any where else in America with the Newest down turn.

    People in Detroit are more concern with, feeding , families, and Living then paying for another empty epitaph to a dead transportation system.

    We would love to see every old building saved. Every lot cleaned.
    But the truth is that there is no money. Our car companies are not going to rescue us. Our government should not pay to fix this buildings.

    I propose that we let them deteriorate and we create our generation of ruins.

    you see theses across Europe and tourist visit them. their are festivals and celebrations going on at these ruins.

    Look how impressive our ruins are in lest then one century.

    we should be proud.


  15. Unknown // Friday, March 06, 2009 8:16:00 PM  

    one other thing

    the reason for the station being so far from downtown also had to do with the Detroit river tunnel.

    the grade to the street elevation put the station at this location.

  16. Anonymous // Friday, March 13, 2009 9:29:00 AM  

    The reason this is happening in Detroit and other older urban areas is because of the tax rates. Between sales, property, and income taxes these cities are pushing all of the jobs away to outlying areas. Detroit is just one of the most extreme examples of this. Look at Cleveland, Pittsburg, Hartford, Buffalo, etc.

    Very sad but predictable.

  17. Anonymous // Friday, March 13, 2009 10:36:00 AM  

    I blame the government and its special interests. They invested in oil and the car industry, tore up the train tracks and built roads, putting places like this out of business.

  18. Anonymous // Friday, March 13, 2009 2:58:00 PM  

    Ah man, this really makes me want to cry. This is such a beautiful building and it's been treated like shit! I hope there's a restoration organization that has caught wind of this place's desperate need for attention.

  19. Unknown // Friday, March 13, 2009 4:51:00 PM  

    Go here for more images of the urban decay of Detroit:

  20. Unknown // Friday, March 13, 2009 7:19:00 PM  

    What a gem of a building. Some kind of tax incentives should be given to whoever to come in and renovate and give life to especially this building.

  21. Anonymous // Friday, March 13, 2009 9:56:00 PM  

    I want to go to Detroit and offer the local government 3 million dollars for all of the vacant properties and foreclosed homes. The money could solve lots of problems and maintenance and security at those locations would no longer be an issue. You could buy all of Detroit. Give it a few years.

  22. Anonymous // Saturday, March 14, 2009 11:49:00 AM  

    its a great art of architecture. it has to be preserved for history purposes.

  23. Anonymous // Saturday, March 14, 2009 4:08:00 PM  

    That is an incredible building. I can't believe it is still standing. I have seen videos of equally impressive buildings in the US being destroyed and being replaced with yet another anonymous glass tower.

    I hope it can be saved somehow. Perhaps a musuem. Look at the Tate Modern in London for example. That was a disused power station.

  24. Anonymous // Saturday, March 14, 2009 6:26:00 PM  

    Very majestic building, if only they would save such buildings.Eerie looking,and would not doubt haunted with the voices of the past.

  25. Joey's Dream Garden // Sunday, March 15, 2009 1:51:00 AM  

    Hi, I live in the UK and i've never heard of this building before. It's so sad to see such a wonderful, beautiful building just go to waste... there will be a day when it's beyond renovation and be torn down. What a sad waste. Isn't it a listed building? I don't know what the arrangements are in US, but here in the UK, you can apply to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport via English Heritage for your building to be 'listed' which means that it can't be changed or pulled down without the government's say so. And you can then apply for grants to preserve important buildings and give them a new use.

  26. Neal // Tuesday, March 17, 2009 9:45:00 AM  

    Maybe if the Detroit Politicians returned the $50 million they stole from the school till...
    shame on Detroit and it's elected leaders.

  27. Anonymous // Tuesday, March 17, 2009 6:42:00 PM  

    aren`t there any motivated kids in this town to build up a club or cultural center in this awesome place?

    what happend to the american youth?

    or does the politicans simply not allow an alternative usage?

  28. Anonymous // Thursday, March 19, 2009 6:22:00 PM  

    I would take it and make something out of it....

    Beats letting it wither away, I picture a small indoor city with a tavern, movie house, and a small grocery store in it.

  29. Anonymous // Saturday, March 21, 2009 10:37:00 PM  

    They just don't build like that anymore. It's sad to see something so great fall to decay

  30. Anonymous // Wednesday, March 25, 2009 9:54:00 PM  

    Wow, isn't this a tipical "soviet architecture" example? ;-)
    When I saw this photo at first glance, before reading the caption, I thought it had took in former Soviet Union...

    BTW, fantastic shots on this site!

  31. Vincent Clement // Tuesday, June 09, 2009 1:34:00 PM  

    This building was featured in the movie Transformers.