• Michigan Central Station

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

  by Noel Weaver
Interesting pictures and videos although I would not have the "guts" to go
inside this building to get them.
This is a classic example of bygone days when the railroad station was at
one time the center of activity in almost every place that it served.
Classic old time and big former New York Central station at a main
location. There were enough offices and people working in them to keep
this building humming 24/7. Today operations are much more centralized
and are conducted with only a fraction of the employees of bygone days.
A facility like this can't sustain inself with just a hand ful of passenger
trains in and out each day. The cost of maintenance and heating alone
has to be astronomical and the taxes unreal too.
There were a number of other locations on the New York Central that also
had large buildings for their passenger station with a lot of office space
on upper floors. Most of them are no longer with us and the few that
remain are generally not used for railroad purposes. Cleveland is a good
example of one that was a Union Terminal but the New York Central was
the basic operator and the building is still maintained and used for
offices although I don't know if any railroads still have offices there. At
one time this building was the location of most railroads off line traffic
offices, a look at the building directory was like a who's who among
railroads. Utica, New York has a beautiful building that is still the station
for Amtrak with a station staff but the upstairs office space is mostly used
by the city and the building is well maintained and a classic example of
the bigger city station.
The northeast corridor still has some nice classic stations: Washington,
Baltimore, Philadelphia, Newark and New Haven among them.
The interiors of these statons are probably worth the time, effort and film
in recording.
Noel Weaver

  by John_Perkowski
Moderator's Note:

Expect this thread to move in the next couple days. I have to ask Otto where the right place is.

Kansas City has had two railroad architecture based buildings preserved. The first is Union Station; while the Great Hall and the North Waiting Room are fully preserved, the offices are as modern as anything in the city. The US Postal Service, in a small irony, has taken over the Railway Express Agency loading docks as their Kansas City general offices, and again, everything deeper than the skin is as modern as it gets for an office facility.

The KCT terminal roundhouses are also preserved, as part of the DST Systems complex. Again, the turntable and leads are there, but inside the doors is a modern office building.

In both cases, there was a business case which justified preservation

  by peconicstation
Just to clarify a couple of notes on Detroit Commuter Rail Service.

There were 2 routes that lasted into the (fairly) recent past.

The larger of the 2 was the former GTW service between downtown Detroit and Pontiac. These trains used a station next to the Ren. Center
and ran 3 peak round trips. In the 1970's the service was turned over to an operating authority, SEMTA (Southeastern Michigan Transporation Authority) and the service was cut to 2 peak round trips, and came off in mid-1983. The equipment wound up going to Pittsburgh for it's PATrain Commuter Service (which since has been dropped).

The GTW also ran specials along it's suburban route for the JL Hudson Thanksgiving Day Parade, and Shoppers Specials during the Christmas Shopping season.

Prior to using the Ren. Center station these trains used Union Station, that was on Fort Street downtown, and was featured in the movie,
Detroit 9000 (after the station was abandonded).

The 2nd route was Detroit to Ann Arbor. This route was run by the former Michigan Central RR, and continued to use the MCS through the Penn Central and Conrail years. The service was simply one peak hour round trip.

After Conrail, the service was turned over as a 403-B Amtrak service called to Michigan Executive. This ran as a peak hour round trip, and as ridership declined, it was then run only as a morning in bound run, with one of the regular Chicago-Detroit runs being used for the PM trip.

There have been many plans to reuse the MCS building, including one to have the city use it as a consolidated city office building.

................and yes, Amtrak served MCS from the time of it's creation until 1988.


  by Gilbert B Norman
An additional note to Mr. Peconic's material regarding Detroit commuter service, to my best knowledge, the GTW service was the last regularly scheduled service to be operated with steam locomotives. As I recall, such was the case until about 1959.

If I may be permitted to note, my first steam powered ride in this life was also my first train ride; New Haven to Westerly (likely an I-4, fellow NYNH&H hands) during July 1946. My final regularly scheduled North American steam powered train ride was likely The Washingtonian, on the CV Montreal to White River, during August 1956; Europe was during 1960. Last world-wide was during 1967 in Thailand.

  by Noel Weaver
I visited the Grand Trunk Western in late 1959 not long before the end
and at that time there were still two steam powered passenger trains out
of Brush Street Station in Detroit. One went all the way to Durand and
the other to Pontiac. I rode to Durand and back the next day with a
friend and this was my last regular service ride behind steam power.
At the time steam was still active at all three terminals mentioned above
and the power was spotless right up till the end.
Great memories and a few movies too.
Noel Weaver
  by Otto Vondrak
carajul wrote:Does Amtrak still serve Detriot, MI?
Whenever I want to know where a railroad goes, I usually check a map. Try www.amtrak.com for that information, let me know what you come up with.

  by NellieBly
Amtrak operated quite an interesting variety of equipment to/through the MC station. Although I never rode the through train to Buffalo via Canada, I did ride the "Lake Cities" (as I believe it was called), one of the three daily Chicago -- Detroit trains that for a few years in the 1980s ran through Detroit to Toledo (as I recall, a reverse move was necessary at the MC station to do this). We had an F40 and three or four Amfleet cars when I rode the train in 1982. I connected to the "Lake Shore" in Toledo, riding the Slumbercoach to Albany and switching to a coach for the ride to Boston (to date, my only trip "all the way" on the B&A).

I think the through service to Toledo may have lasted until 1995. Anybody recall?

The abandonment of the MC station largely resulted from the state of Michigan's interest in extending service out the Grand Trunk to Pontiac. This would have required a reverse move to get to the MC station, and with the train to Buffalo (and the railroad to Buffalo) gone, the MC station simply wasn't on the way to anywhere. Operation to/from the Trunk via Milwaukee Junction meant that a new station could be built right on Woodward Ave (Detroit's main thorofare), although when I rode through from Pontiac to Ann Arbor last summer, boardings/alightings at the "downtown" Detroit station were pretty light.

  by Gilbert B Norman
Of possible interest to those participating at this topic:

  by Sisko24
Below are links from two Detroit newspapers from Tuesday, April 7. In the articles, it says the mayor and city council have voted for an emergency demolition of the old terminal and to charge the current owner for the cost of doing so because the building is an "eyesore" and has sat vacant.

Here is the link from the Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20090407/METRO/904070421 ;
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Detroit council votes to demolish Michigan Central Depot, charge owner
David Josar / The Detroit News
Detroit -- The City Council today passed a resolution calling for the emergency demolition of the Michigan Central Depot and then going after billionaire owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun to recoup the costs. Mayor Kenneth Cockrel Jr. has already put the demolition in his request for federal economic stimulus funds and vowed to go after the building's owner to be reimbursed. However, council members want to expedite the process.
Here is the link from the Detroit Free Press: http://www.freep.com/article/20090407/N ... +s+expense .
Council: Raze Mich. Central Station at owner's expense
The Detroit City Council passed a resolution requesting the emergency demolition of the Michigan Central Station at owner Manuel (Matty) Moroun’s expense. Moroun, a billionaire who owns the Ambassador Bridge and has plans to build a second bridge next to it, has 30 days to respond to the council’s resolution “I want it down now,” said Councilwoman Barbara-Rose Collins, who introduced the resolution to raze the structure, sitting vacant since 1988. “It’s obviously a public hazard.”
  by Sisko24
Today, the owners of Detroit's Michigan Central Terminal asked the city of Detroit not to demolish the terminal. Separately, there are now lawsuits aimed at preventing the city council from doing so. More info can be found in the Detroit News article whose link follows.

Owners ask city to keep Central Depot standing
Darren A. Nichols / The Detroit News
Detroit -- The city is moving forward with plans to demolish the Michigan Central Depot, calling in the owners this morning before the Detroit Building and Safety Engineering Department. Officials from the Detroit International Bridge Co. pleaded their case, saying the structure that's been vacant since 1988 should remain standing. Officials said their portion of the property isn't open to trespass, and the only opening where people can get in is owned by the city.

http://www.detnews.com/article/20090414 ... tral+Depot
Suit seeks to halt demolition of Michigan Central Depot
The Detroit News
Detroit --Two-time mayoral candidate Stanley Christmas sued the city this week, seeking to halt the demolition of the Michigan Central Depot. Christmas and the Eclipse Foundation sued the city in Wayne County Circuit Court on Monday, claiming that razing the building would violate the National Historic Preservation Act. The suit seeks an injunction from Judge Robert Colombo.

[please add short quotes to linked news stories - omv]
  by lvrr325
It's absurd that with all the problems Detroit has this is what they're fixated on. Sure it would be expensive to fix the place, but wouldn't doing so provide a lot more jobs that would last a lot longer than knocking it down and hauling the rubble away?

Logic and politics rarely mix.
  by Sisko24
I agree with you. I can't help but think the politicians and the acting mayor see this as a way of attempting to make the voters think the city council is doing something, anything to help Detroit. I don't think it'll work because it seems as if alot of the residents are questioning this idea of tearing down the terminal. I would like to see the two "artists" who did The Gates Project and the Berlin Reichstag covering, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, come to Detroit and do something like that with this terminal. It would generate alot of media and controversy and would remind everyone of what a grand building it once was.

Years ago, while a college student in Michigan traveling home to New York, I had a chance to go through and use the terminal. Stupid me, I allowed myself to be talked into instead flying home by some girl who wasn't even my girlfriend, who I only met on the bus to Detroit and who I didn't particularly like. (I'm still kicking myself in the butt over that.) When all that happened, there was still an Amtrak train from Chicago to New York (via Detroit, Windsor and Hamilton) which utilized the Detroit River Tunnel. Now it's too late.....unless one of the Amtrak gods should smile upon me. :wink:
  by Sisko24
The Michigan Central Terminal in Detroit will stand for a bit longer according to the Detroit Free Press:

http://www.freep.com/article/20090518/N ... raze+depot
Council puts off depot razing
By NAOMI R. PATTON • Free Press Staff Writer • May 18, 2009
The Michigan Central Depot will stand a bit longer after the Detroit City Council delayed its decision on razing the historic train station and a nearby warehouse. The delay came in a hearing before the council’s Public Health and Safety Committee this morning after representatives of Manuel (Matty) Moroun, owner of the Detroit Bridge Company, which owns the depot, said they needed more time to negotiate with potential developers. William Seikaly, an attorney representing the Bridge Company, cited procedural problems with the city’s building department, adding he has not received the opinion from the department’s hearing officer about its recommendation made in an April hearing to demolish the building. He also said the company needed a “reasonable period of time to come up with development plans.”

And the Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20090518 ... tral-Depot
Monday, May 18, 2009
Detroit delays decision on Michigan Central Depot
Darren A. Nichols / The Detroit News
Detroit -- The Detroit City Council today delayed a decision on tearing down the Michigan Central Depot by three weeks after its owners asked officials to give them one more chance to redevelop the station. Manuel "Matty" Moroun, owner of the Bridge Co. and the train station, has pitched saving the building from the wrecking ball by selling it to the federal government so it can be converted to a base for Homeland Security and Border Patrol operations in Detroit. During a brief discussion this morning, attorney William Seikaly said the company wants more time to work on a proposal and update the council on the progress. "We ought to be working together to figure out a way to develop, rather than destroy, an icon of the community," Seikaly said. "My client has been working aggressively for at least 10 years to try and come up with development projects. It is not a question of how long the city should wait, it's how long it will take. Our proposal is a reasonable proposal. Instead of throwing stones, we ought to be working together."
  by Otto Vondrak
Heartbreaking before and after pictures:

http://onlyndetroit.com/html/decay/ond- ... _abord.htm
It was the fall of 1973, just six years after the fifteen-floor office tower and the main "grand" lobby of the Michigan Central Depot closed. Photographer and student Keith Jolly was permitted to document, in intimate detail, what may be the saddest chapter in Detroit's history of neglecting historic architecture. Through the lens of this photographic artist, one can appreciate the remarkable feelings of grandeur and luxury the Michigan Central Station conveyed to arriving and departing passengers. Also captured in these prints the eerie sense of impending neglect and subsequent ruin that would become the Depot's lasting image. With Amtrak's permission, he was granted access to the two lower levels of the station. These pictures were taken some thirty-five years ago and like a window into the past, we gaze in amazement at the remarkable life the station once had. Working with photographer Keith Jolly, onlynDetroit sought out to recapture the images, as they exist today. As Keith Jolly would document the beginning of the end, onlynDetroit has been documenting the station’s "afterlife". We wanted to offer a true unfiltered view into this modern urban phenomenon. This project has been years in the making and we are proud to share our retrospective of thirty-five years of decay inside The Michigan Central Station.


  by jsmyers
John_Perkowski wrote:Moderator's Note:

Expect this thread to move in the next couple days. I have to ask Otto where the right place is.


In both cases, there was a business case which justified preservation
Don't move it. The business case is all about Amtrak. I'll elaborate in another post.
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