History Podcasts

This Train Station is Poised to Help Detroit Get Back on Track

This Train Station is Poised to Help Detroit Get Back on Track

In 1913, when it opened its doors to passengers, the 18-story, 500,000 square-foot Michigan Central Station was the tallest rail station in the world. But it was more then just a transportation hub; the station, with vaulted ceilings and marble floors, represented Detroit’s new-found industrial might and its soaring expectations for the future.

For the past three decades, however, the station has come to symbolize something very different: urban blight and the decline of a once great city.

In June 2018, Ford Motor Co. announced that it planned to restore the building to its past glory, turning it into a 21st-century technology hub that would bring innovation and jobs to the city that would, in turn, inspire Detroit’s economic revival. But the question remains: Can the restoration of Michigan Central Station transform a city burdened by high crime, massive unemployment and stubborn levels of poverty?

The station once served as Detroit’s Ellis Island, greeting thousands of passengers every day eager to find new work and a new life. It was also the heart of Detroit’s industrial empire, pumping thousands of people through the arteries of the city’s thriving automobile industry. The year that Central Station greeted its first riders, Ford was turning out 200,000 cars a year. By 1920, 200 trains passed through Central Station every day and Ford was producing 1 million cars a year.

The station, constructed by the same architects who built Grand Central Terminal in New York, was designed to inspire. It consisted of an ornate, three-story station and an 18-story office tower that stood south of Michigan Avenue and a mile west of downtown. The station had its own restaurants, barbershop and newsstands. It even had Roman-style baths where passengers could freshen up before or after a long trip. The centerpiece of the station was the ornate waiting room with marble floors, 68-foot Corinthian columns, and soaring 54-and-a-half-foot ceilings adorned with large bronze chandeliers. Signs advertising trains—the Ambassador, the Detroiter, the Empire State Express and the Canadian Pacific—stood above the ticket counters. “The grandeur of the interior is something that will be lasting, for it is of marble, brick and bronze, all of this is set off by one of the best lighting schemes ever installed in a building,” the Detroit Free Press wrote in December 1913.

In a famous 1940 fireside chat President Franklin Roosevelt called on Americans to become the “arsenal of democracy,” turning from domestic to military production to aid the Allies in the battle against Hitler. Detroit answered the call. Assembly lines that once tuned out cars now churned out tanks, planes, rifles, and bullets…millions and millions of bullets. More than 4,000 passengers passed through the station every day, and it greeted Presidents Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman and Franklin Roosevelt along with actors Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson, and inventor Thomas Edison. By the middle of the century, people in Detroit enjoyed a higher rate of homeownership and higher median income than residents in any other major American city. Detroit, which claimed 500,000 in the year that Central Station was built, saw its population soar to 1.8 million in 1950.

Ironically, the automobile that been responsible for Detroit’s success also contributed to its decline. It allowed the white middle class to move to the suburbs, draining away the city’s much-needed tax revenue. Because it heavily depended on automobile manufacturing, Detroit was not well-equipped to deal with the influx of cheaper, more fuel-efficient cars from Japan and Europe in the 1970s. To reduce costs, auto companies moved manufacturing abroad, shuttered plants in Detroit and laid off workers.

Racial tension also contributed to Detroit’s decline. The city suffered from one of the worst racial riots in the nation’s history—a disturbance that left a deep and lasting scar. In July 1967, the Detroit exploded after the police raided an after-hours club frequented by African Americas. By the time it ended, 43 people had been killed and more than 2,000 buildings burned to the ground. “It looks like Berlin in 1945,” noted an observer. After the riots, whites flooded out of the city. More than 800,000 left in 1969 alone.

The past 30 years have not been kind to Detroit—or its train station. With the city’s population plummeting, and fewer commuters depended on train travel, passengers dried up; and the station, after several efforts to keep it alive, closed. At 11:30 AM on January 5, 1988, train number 353 headed to Chicago left the station, the last one to do so. The station’s demise foreshadowed the economic decline of Detroit. In July 2013 the city filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection with a debt estimated between $18 billion and $20 billion. It was the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in history.

Walking through the station today you see reminders of its past glory alongside disturbing images of its decline. The bones are visible—the vaulted ceilings and concrete pillars, the ghosts of storefronts and the Roman baths. But vandals stripped the building of tiles, flooring and copper wiring, and destroyed the façade with sledgehammers. Water damage ruined much of the plaster work.

On June 19, 2018 the station served as a backdrop for Bill Ford, the company’s chairman and a great-grandson of founder Henry Ford, to announce his vision for the station and for Detroit. “100 years after Henry Ford’s assembly line revolutionized industry, we’re reimagining mobility,” he told a crowd of about 500 Ford employees. For Ford the future is about mobility. As population grows and cities become more crowded, he believes, carmakers need to rethink their mission. Ford is betting on technology. The future, he declared, “means smart cars, but also smart roads, smart parking, smart public transit systems, and ways for them all to talk to one another.”

Ford plans to make Central Station the centerpiece of a new campus that will include approximately 1.2 million square feet of property in Corktown (named because so many Irish immigrants from Cork settled there). It will serve the community with mixed-use space: offices, retail and residential housing. The initial proposal includes locating approximately 2,500 Ford employees, most from its mobility team, to Corktown by 2022.

Ford is not the only company betting on a Detroit revival. Two Detroit natives, Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert and Little Caesars pizza creator Michael Ilitch, have invested in downtown stadiums, newly built office space and entertainment facilities.

But Detroit remains a deeply distressed city. Its population has dwindled and is now only slightly higher than when Central Station was built. It has among the highest rates of violent crime, unemployment and poverty in the nation, and it has recently been ranked as the least desirable city in the country to live.

Detroit’s future will depend not only on massive investments from companies like Ford, but on the spirit of residents in this resilient city. One promising sign: The vandal who stole the wrought-iron clock that greeted visitors at the station has offered to return it. “I loved that clock,” he wrote in anonymous email, “and I loved that station.” That is a good start.

Steven M. Gillon, a professor of history at the University of Oklahoma, is the Scholar-in-Residence at HISTORY. He has authored numerous books on American history, including the recent Separate and Unequal: The Kerner Commission and the Unraveling of American Liberalism, (Basic, 2018)

History Reads features the work of prominent authors and historians.

Detroit: Comeback City premieres Sunday, July 1 at 9/8c. Watch a preview now.

Detroit Department of Transportation

The Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) is the largest public transit provider in Michigan that serves the City of Detroit, surrounding suburbs, and neighboring cities, including Highland Park and Hamtramck. DDOT prides itself on providing reliable, clean, safe, and efficient service to an average of 85,000 riders daily.

Subscribe to DDOT

Subscribe to the City of Detroit Newsletter to opt-in to receive DDOT announcements.

Responding to COVID-19

DDOT takes the COVID-19 situation very seriously. We are working with the City of Detroit, state and local public health officials and following the CDC’s guidance to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Proposed State Fair Transit Center

The Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) invites all community and business organizations, neighborhood residents, and other stakeholders to learn and share your opinion about the proposed transit center at the State Fairgrounds. Learn more.

Public Notifications

DDOT Public Notifications include information about weekly service performance, ridership, the Local Advisory Council (LAC) and fares.

View, download or print bus schedules

Where and how to buy passes


Departments Menu

This Rare Footage In The 1940s Shows Detroit Like You’ve Never Seen Before

If you’re a history buff, there’s nothing more fascinating than watching video footage of a time long past. When it comes to Detroit, it can be difficult to imagine what life was like in the Motor City before its financial woes and other social struggles. But as we look toward the bright future of our beloved city, it’s important to look back at where we come from — in the hopes that Detroit will continue to grow and change as it enters a new era.

The footage below is a fascinating compilation of videos that offer a one-of-a-kind glimpse into what life was like in Detroit during the late 1930s and 1940s. You’ll be taken on an incredible journey through a handful of Detroit’s most famous landmarks and buildings. While many of these places have changed entirely since this footage was shot, you might be surprised at how much you’re still able to recognize!

Keep your eyes peeled for especially intriguing footage of Belle Isle, downtown Detroit, and even the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak. The most beautiful sight, though, is certainly seeing the smiling faces of Detroiters who experienced the city during its prime.

This footage was originally posted by YouTube user mikcollmi, whose channel features plenty of footage of the Motor City from various other eras. If you enjoyed this video, be sure to visit mikcollmi’s channel here to continue your exciting trip down memory lane. Long live the Motor City!

Rise and Shine, Detroit

It's not called a “tug” of memory for nothing: I’m outside Detroit’s railroad station, and I instantly recall my mother’s gloved hand pulling mine as we rushed through the vast atrium that was inspired by the imperial baths of ancient Rome. We are in a hurry to get somewhere, and Detroit is, too. Even a little boy in the mid-1960s notices the tempo. The Motor City is in motion. We build America’s cars. Thanks to Berry Gordy’s Motown, the world hums our songs. The city, fifth largest in the U.S. by population, is at the top of its game.

Today, Michigan Central Station still looks Roman, but it’s a Roman ruin. Closed since 1988 and stripped of valuables by vandals, or “scrappers,” the empty hulk symbolizes my old hometown’s decline, buckling beneath crime, corruption, and events such as the 1967 riots, the 1970s gas shortages, and the rise of Asian auto imports. My family, like others, moved away. A city of almost two million residents in 1950 shrank to 713,777 in 2010.

To visitors, Detroit’s attractions verged on the desperate: Three new casinos corralled gamblers inside windowless rooms a desultory monorail circled downtown. The city’s collapse actually created a new business in “ruin porn,” as locals escorted tourists eager to experience the postapocalyptic atmosphere of decaying factories and abandoned offices.

But Detroit has been down so long, any change would be up. And “up” is why I’ve returned. Something’s happening in Michigan’s southeast corner. Call it a rising, a revival, a new dawn—there’s undeniable energy emanating from Detroit. America noticed it first at the 2011 Super Bowl. Chrysler debuted a TV commercial with rapper Eminem, star of the film 8 Mile (named after the road that serves as Detroit’s northern border). The ad crystallized the city’s spiky, muscular pride and won an Emmy, but Detroit was the real winner.

“This is the Motor City,” Eminem declared, “and this is what we do.” And, increasingly, Detroiters are doing: Working-class Latinos in Southwest, recent college grads in Midtown and New Center, and African-American professionals in Boston Edison are improving their neighborhoods. An expanding Detroit RiverWalk edges downtown, where corporations like DTE Energy, Quicken Loans, and Blue Cross Blue Shield have moved in thousands of workers. A favorite 1960s-era restaurant, the London Chop House, has announced its reopening. And that badge of gentrification, Whole Foods, plans to build a store in the inner city.

Even outsiders have started arriving, drawn by a sense of adventure. A new resident had told me: “If you visit Detroit, you’re an explorer. Be prepared for a rich, very soulful experience.”

A flashing red light jolts me back to the train station’s razor wire and rubble. A fire engine pulls up alongside me.

“Anything wrong, officer?” I ask, nervously. Maybe they think I’m a scrapper.

“Naaah,” says Ladder 28’s Capt. Robert Distelrath, with the backslapping, broad a’s of the Midwest. “Just checking things out. What are you doing?”

I tell him I’m here because I hear Detroit is coming back.

Distelrath grins. “There’s more to us than this train station. Go to Slows Bar BQ,” he says, pointing into Corktown, the neighborhood bordering the station. “The owner, Phillip Cooley, he’s at the center of a lot of things. He’s trying to bring Detroit back all by himself.”

It’s only 11 a.m., but Slows is full up for lunch. Customers crowd tables made of reclaimed timber. Waitresses serve sandwiches, the bun tops tilted backward to accommodate the pile of brisket heaped under them. Pints of beer and platters of waffle fries slathered in melted cheddar follow. No shy portions here.

“Detroiters don’t like fancy-pants food,” a local tells me. True that. It’s a town where you can still score a plate of eggs and hash browns for $2.50 (at Duly’s Place, a 24-hour diner on West Vernor), and where restaurants selling Coney Island hot dogs—invented in Michigan, despite the name—inspire intense loyalty.

Cooley isn’t around, but I can’t resist ordering a pulled pork. Afterward, I continue my search for the urban pioneer. I eventually find him down the street at a just opened coffeehouse called Astro.

Cooley, 33, is an unlikely city savior. The Michigan native and former Louis Vuitton model traded Milan’s fashion runways for Detroit’s pockmarked sidewalks to start a new life. He and his family opened Slows six years ago.

“We’ve got lots going on,” he admits. He’s lent his expertise to Astro and to Sugar House, a craft cocktail bar next door. He’s even helped finance and build a community parking lot.

Each new attraction becomes another beam for shoring up Corktown, a neighborhood of sagging factories, revitalized gingerbread Victorians painted in bright colors, and empty lots transformed into vegetable gardens.

“We’re a scoot-up-to-the-bar-we’ll-make-room sort of place. Everyone’s welcome,” Cooley tells me as we finish up our americanos. He’s talking about Slows, but he could be describing the city. “Detroit’s authentic,” he says. “It is a very unique city.”

I DISCOVER THE TRUTH OF COOLEY'S STATEMENT the next day, visiting Dearborn, the suburb that’s home to both automaker Ford’s world headquarters as well as a burgeoning Arab-American community. After touring the Arab American National Museum with my guide, Fay Saad, a native Michigander of Lebanese descent, I’m welcomed at Habib, a lavishly furnished Middle Eastern restaurant that does a brisk business in wedding, graduation, and birthday banquets.

“Our families are just like everyone else’s,” Saad says in the same hearty Midwest accent as fire captain Distelrath’s. She invites me to accompany her to Dearborn’s Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in North America. She dons a head scarf as we enter the holy building. It’s quiet. Services aren’t being held. We head back downtown via busy Warren Avenue.

“It’s like a mini Beirut,” Saad says as we pass an Arab coffee roastery that fills the air with the smell of toasted beans. “And a mix of everything,” she adds, as I point to a sign touting the “Best Halal Pizza in Town!”

We stop at her favorite bakery, Shatila’s, where the counters groan with abundant varieties of baklava and honeyed dates and other sweets from Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon, and where the attendants chat sociably with the customers. Though many women wear head scarves and the conversation is often in Arabic, it’s as much Middle America as Middle East.

In fact, non-English migrants enjoy a long tradition here. Travelers often forget that Detroit was born as French as New Orleans. Founded in 1701 by Antoine Laumet de La Mothe Cadillac, Detroit shows its Gallic roots in street names such as Livernois, Cadieux, and Gratiot.

I visit another religious spot—the redbrick Ste. Anne de Détroit church, founded by Cadillac’s settlers and the second oldest continuously operating Roman Catholic parish in the United States. The church and its exterior plaza exude an Old World charm that mixes with the growl of the semis rumbling over the Ambassador Bridge to Windsor, Canada.

Such contrasts make up the Detroit terroir, the French concept for the characteristics of a region that impart a distinct flavor. Detroit is a welter of opposites—like Slows’s old-school smoked barbecue dished out in a hip setting. I visit Midtown, site of many of Detroit’s cultural gems, to tour the Detroit Institute of Arts. The DIA is a classical, white-frosted cake of a building that harbors Diego Rivera’s dynamic, colorful murals of the auto assembly lines. The murals were commissioned by Edsel Ford in 1932. Ford may have been a wealthy industrialist, but he hired a Mexican Communist to paint his workers.

While some of the city’s buildings are scruffy, others are gleaming again, especially the prewar skyscrapers. Detroit’s art deco towers make those in Miami’s South Beach look like anthills.

To get a feel for them, I take a tour with architectural historian Dan Austin. “Detroit has one of the largest collections of Roaring ’20s architecture anywhere in the country,” Austin says. “You’ll find them downtown, in the neighborhoods, in the suburbs.” He ticks off a series of greatest hits: “Fox Theatre, the Fisher Building, the Penobscot. And it’s not just art deco buildings, either—a town house development, Lafayette Park, is the largest collection of mid-century modernist Mies Van Der Rohe residences in the world.”

Austin is explaining this as we approach the 40-story Guardian Building. Built in a damn-the-expenses manner, this 1929 tower is machine-age bravado in stainless steel, marble, and nearly two million tangerine-colored bricks. “I like to call it ‘holy cow’ architecture,” says Austin, as we push through the heavy glass doors and enter the lobby. “You see it and say—”

“Jesus!” I gawk at the vaulted space rising five stories above the 60-foot-long lobby. This interior would not be out of place in Oz. The ceiling is finished in an Aztec-inspired design of Technicolor tile hexagons. The walls and floors are clad in rare Numidian and travertine marbles. A decorative metal grill with a Tiffany glass clock in its center separates the lobby from the onetime banking hall. I make a feeble attempt to capture the dazzling beauty on my iPhone’s camera. But not even Apple’s ingenuity can do this place justice.

Other architectural beauties are getting makeovers as well. DoubleTree by Hilton has reopened the Fort Shelby hotel. The revamped, 34-story Broderick will rent apartments to downtown office workers.

“It’s an art to update an old building yet stay true to the spirit of the original,” says Bradley McCallum, who helps manage the Westin Book Cadillac, one of Detroit’s premier hotels, which reopened in 2008 following a $200 million renovation.

McCallum and I are dining later in the day at Roast, chef Michael Symon’s restaurant in the Book Cadillac. I’m working on a Rock City burger, topped with bleu cheese, caramelized onions, and the restaurant’s signature savory “zipp” sauce, and keeping tabs on the hive of activity. An elegant couple, the woman in silvery lamé, swan past us to their table in the buzzing main room. Outside, on Washington Boulevard, a Hollywood film crew is shooting a scene. Klieg lights dazzle like diamonds. “I think New York has a bit of a crush on Detroit,” McCallum remarks. Hard to believe nightlife in this town was once so moribund visitors would drive to Grosse Pointe, a plaid-and-preppy suburb, for fun.

I end up at Café d’Mongo’s Speakeasy with McCallum and an ever growing crowd of hipsters, artists, and night crawlers. The bartenders serve up ribs and cocktails that mix Captain Morgan rum with Faygo, a local soda pop that Detroiters seem to guzzle with everything.

On track

Scavengers have stripped marble from its walls. Chandeliers, lavatory sinks and a large bronze clock that once loomed above the ticket counter are gone. Even some of the copper wiring has been looted from the Michigan Central Station, which has haunted Detroit’s southwest side since Amtrak pulled out in 1988.

Despite its broken windows and dingy facade, community advocates, preservationists and the like have not given up on the hulking landmark. They soon may have reason to celebrate.

The City of Detroit is considering the old train station, as well as the former site of Joe Muer’s restaurant on Gratiot, for a new police headquarters, according to Henry Hagood, planning and development director.

The city asked developers to submit proposals for a new 250,000-square-foot police headquarters, which should include administrative offices, conference rooms, a shooting range and other amenities. The city did not ask for a police lockup.

The current headquarters, which was built in 1923, is rife with problems. Last year, a broken pipe flooded the basement, temporarily knocking out the city’s 911 call center.

The city received several proposals, including one from CenTra Inc., which owns the train station.

If the city chooses CenTra, business mogul Manuel J. “Matty” Moroun may be deemed a hero. Moroun runs CenTra, which owns the Ambassador Bridge and trucking companies. He hasn’t always been popular on the southwest side, where some residents have complained that his operations hamper the neighborhood.

The train station’s neighbors are ecstatic at the prospect that the police may take up residence there.

“We have been so gratified by the community support that this has received,” says Mickey Blashfield, CenTra’s government relations director.

Eleven community groups that make up the Gateway Collaborative, which promotes development in Corktown and Southwest Detroit, unanimously support the plan.

“Currently, the train station casts a shadow over Corktown and Mexicantown,” says Kelli B. Kavanaugh, administrator of the Corktown Citizens District Council, a Gateway Collaborative member. “Having a building that contributes to the growth of the neighborhoods will only serve as a bridge rather than a barrier.”

Kavanaugh, author of Detroit’s Michigan Central Station , a photo history of the train depot, predicts that moving the police headquarters there will spur development in the area.

The only anxiety residents had about the proposal was parking, she says.

“We don’t want there to be a huge parking lot in front of the train station,” says Kavanaugh.

The city did not say how many people would move into the building, but specifications call for 800 parking spaces. Blashfield says CenTra’s proposal exceeds this requirement. A warehouse adjacent the train depot would be converted to a parking structure, with another one built beside it, he says. If necessary, a third one could be built on the surface lot north of the station, says Blashfield.

Kathy Wendler, executive director of the Southwest Detroit Business Association, also a Gateway Collaborative member, says redeveloping the train station is not only good for the neighborhood, but the city.

“I’d like to say that it is a wonderful local, neighborhood thing, but it is way beyond that,” says Wendler. “I think it will resonate across the region and it is an opportunity for the city to get national press coverage.”

Ken Cockrel, president pro tem of the Detroit City Council, is most interested in saving the city money by consolidating police administrators into one building. Ken Cockrel, who lives about a mile north of the train station, says the department’s top brass are currently housed in several buildings.

“We are paying rent at those locations, which adds up,” he says. “From a cost-efficiency standpoint, it makes sense to pay one bill for rent and consolidate other payments like utilities.”

“I think adaptive reuse is a wonderful thing,” says Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel, but she wants more details. The council will not review plans for the police headquarters until the mayor selects a developer.

According to Blashfield, the city wants a “turnkey” operation. CenTra would pay for the renovation and lease the space for police headquarters.

Sheila Cockrel says she wants to be sure that the city doesn’t run into the same problem it now has with 36th District Court. The city leases the building and pays for repairs, she says.

She is not the only one curious about the lease agreement and other details. Folks regularly chat about Michigan Central Station at detroityes.com, a Web site devoted to all things Detroit.

Steve Haag, 32, a passionate preservationist, posts on the site, under the pseudonym “Hamtramck Steve.”

“They [old buildings] are one of the things that make Detroit unique,” says Haag, who chairs Friends of the Book-Cadillac Hotel, which promoted efforts to renovate that building.

Last month, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said that the hotel would be saved, and said he would soon make a similar announcement about the train station, which was completed in 1913 with a 19th century Beaux Arts design.

Haag contends that it’s cheaper to renovate old buildings that are structurally sound than to build new ones. That’s why he thinks moving police headquarters into the train station makes sense.

In a July 17 posting, Haag said he heard from a confidential source that, “The owner will pay the full cost of the renovation to create a new police [headquarters] in exchange for a, I think, 30-year lease. The lease is under $20 a square foot.”

Haag would not identify his source.

Blashfield would not comment on Haag’s posting.

“We are not going to get into any details until they are final,” he says.

But if what Haag says is true, $20 a square foot is reasonable. Downtown office space rents for $16 to $30 a square foot, according to Andy Farbman, a prominent local developer.

“It depends on the class of building and its amenities,” says Farbman, who proposed housing the new police headquarters in the former Detroit Free Press building. He says the city is no longer considering that plan.

“I haven’t heard from the city in about three months,” says Farbman.

The city originally was scheduled to choose a final developer May 30, but extended the deadline. Around that same time, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it would monitor the department after a two-year investigation of fatal police shootings, deaths in the city lockups and other matters. Some speculate that the city may not have wanted to appear that it was rewarding the department with a new headquarters.

The mayor and Police Chief Jerry Oliver will make the final decision, says Blashfield. Oliver, who reportedly said early on that he wanted a new facility built, declined to comment.

“The bottom line is that it could easily accommodate the Police Department and then some,” says Blashfield.

The 230-foot high building has 550,000 square feet. The police would be the anchor tenant, but there would be room for others, says Blashfield.

“It is a steel-and-concrete formation designed by railroad engineers and it was stably built from day one and remains that way,” says Blashfield.

Whatever the city decides, tearing the train station down is not an option, says Blashfield.

“We have not considered it,” he says. “Besides, I’m not sure there is enough dynamite in the region to do it.”

Read the other Corktown features in this issue:

The neighborhood that wouldn't die
By Sarah Klein
Despite abandoned and decaying landmarks, Corktown pulses with life.

A hole in the heart
By Curt Guyette
Corktown’s lost field of dreams.

Detroiters flock to see train station Monday added to open house

A woman looks over historic photos at a display inside Michigan Central Station in Detroit during an open house put on by Ford Motor Company on Friday, June 22, 2018. (Photo: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)

Ford opened its newly purchased Michigan Central Station on Friday for the first public visit in 30 years and, despite the threat of rain, Detroiters and the city's neighbors turned out in droves.

With more than 25,000 people already expected to travel through the station Friday-Sunday, Ford said it would extend the open house through Monday. The station will be open to the public from 10-a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday. People can register at fordmcsopenhouse.splashthat.com/.

The station, opened in 1913 and modeled after New York's Grand Central Station, closed in 1988. It became a target for vandals and thieves, a ruin towering over the western edge of Corktown, a symbol of Detroit's demise.

Ford will turn it into the hub for an automotive tech campus and, both the company and community hope, the biggest turning point yet in the city's revival.

Bill Ford's vision for train station, Corktown

Mr. Ford, will my parents be OK?

A line of at least 1,000 visitors began gathering well before the 1 p.m. opening Friday. Although the crowd was diverse, people who were old enough to have visited the station when it was still in use seemed over-represented. For many of these visitors, coming here was about the memories.

Fran Nivison, left, of Harper Woods and Monique Thomas of Detroit share a laugh while taking a break inside Michigan Central Station in Detroit during an open house put on by Ford Motor Company on Friday, June 22, 2018. (Photo: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)

Carmen Pozniak said that she vaguely remembered her husband leaving from the station for basic training almost half a century ago. "I don't recall anything about it except the train and the tracks, but nothing about the building at the time."

She's excited that Ford purchased and is renovating the station instead of tearing it down. "It's just a beautiful piece of Detroit, it was a shame to see it sitting empty."

Others shared Pozniak's views. Mary Jane Dawson, who remembered leaving from the station for camp in 1964, said, "This is just one of those buildings. It would have been a crime to destroy it."

It's representative, in her view, of the city coming back. "Like a phoenix," she said.

John Ruggiero, 71, worked for a railroad company and used to come down to the station to do business. His wife, Marsha, 62, had never been to the building before and he brought her to show her his former workplace. They were both glad that Ford had purchased the station.

"The Morouns weren't doing anything," John said of the family that had owned the station since the mid-1990s. "They'd let it get destroyed."

Within the depot itself, alongside exhibits displaying the history of the building, Ford prominently displayed a clock that a thief had returned just days earlier. Large projectors cast graphics promoting the initiative on the torn walls of the building.

A handful of Ford partners gave demonstrations of their work. Rebel Nell, a company that hires disadvantaged women in shelters to help make jewelry out of shavings of graffiti paint, showed visitors its process with flakes of graffiti taken from the station itself.

Graffiti artists also worked (on canvas), creating pieces depicting the station and its renovation.

Antonio "Shades" Agee of Detroit spray paints artwork that will be on display while working inside Michigan Central Station in Detroit during an open house put on by Ford Motor Company on Friday, June 22, 2018. (Photo: Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press)

"It's kinda cool that they would ask me, a graf artist, who used to run around the city and get chased out of here, to come in and do this display," said Antonio (Shades) Agee, 48. "I came in, I tagged a little," but he said he hadn't spent as much time in the station as younger artists.

Even younger people who didn't remember the station being open still had family stories to tell. Catherine Milani, 24, was in line with her mother, Jacqueline.

Jacqueline's mother immigrated from Dublin in the 1950s and arrived at the station. The Milanis now live in Canada, but both cross the border for work every day and see the station as a prominent symbol of the city. The station coming back means Detroit, too, will come back.

Other visitors had similar impressions. Roxanne and Adam Henderson live in Kitchener, Ontario. Adam, 38, is a truck driver and an auto enthusiast. He regularly drives the route from Toronto to Detroit for work and likes taking photos of his antique cars in front of the station. To finally go inside was exciting for the Hendersons, but both also saw a greater meaning to the station.

"This is what's gonna do it," Roxanne, 37, said. "This is what's gonna bring Detroit back. Other improvements have been made but this is the big thing that will change the city."

This forward-looking perception is something that Ford is eagerly trying to cultivate. From promoting the city and station with a new History Channel documentary to hyping up visitors with fancy projected graphics and flashy promotional materials, Ford wants everyone to be focused on the future.

For most of the visitors, this image of a revitalized train station leading the way to a revitalized Detroit was something they accepted without a second thought. However, they also didn't want to lose track of the past and the history of the place. "It's important to save these things so we can see our own past," Roxanne said.

Plezshette Thomas, who works for Ford, had never been to the station before. Nonetheless, she felt keenly that it is a major part of Detroit's identity.

It's history, it's history made again," she said.

She said she was grateful to Ford for buying and renovating the building. "It gives our children an opportunity to see history remade."

This Train Station is Poised to Help Detroit Get Back on Track - HISTORY

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/11/17 12:59 by run8.

Not really. Unless someone has a dream of re-instituting through service to Canada via the tunnel. The location makes little sense for serving the current "dogleg" route to Pontiac.

Dcmcrider Wrote:
> ts1457 Wrote:
> -----------------------------------------------------
> > Any chance for some trains in the station?
> Not really. Unless someone has a dream of
> re-instituting through service to Canada via the
> tunnel. The location makes little sense for
> serving the current "dogleg" route to Pontiac.

Thanks, been through the tunnel a few times in my younger days.

With Detroit's big downfall, I guess demand is down for Detroit - southern Ontario travel.

ts1457 Wrote:
> With Detroit's big downfall, I guess demand is
> down for Detroit - southern Ontario travel.

One need only to walk through the parking lot at the VIA Station in Windsor and see the large number of Michigan plated vehicles there.

fatdane Wrote:
> Much of the ex NYC Southern Ontario tracks have
> been lifted, along with much of the old C & O, CN
> from Glencoe to Talbotville, and more abandonments
> further east towards Buffalo & Niagara Falls.

CP's track is in a direct alignment with the tunnel entrance and then crosses VIA line between Windsor and Toronto near Chatham. a potential route for a through passenger train between Detroit and Toronto.

A passenger train from Detroit could reach the new VIA Windsor Station but it would be over slow industrial trackage.

I doubt there will ever be a new train crossing the US / Canadian border. It is so much easier to let the passengers deal with Customs on their own then to attempt to get a complete train through it.

I hope the Morouns bought the Michigan Central station for nothing. It seams like it has such limited usefulness. I know some might think it cruel but it would have been better off being torn down in 1988.

> I hope the Morouns bought the Michigan Central
> station for nothing. It seams like it has such
> limited usefulness. I know some might think it
> cruel but it would have been better off being torn
> down in 1988.
> Jim

This group has a different view on the matter:

I know that Preservation Detroit had/has an interest in preserving the station, but was unable to quickly find anything on that group's website about the station.

I got curious about what was going on with the Detroit-Windsor highway bridge situation (with the Morouns wanting to build an additional bridge at their Ambassador Bridge crossing. Maybe this is part of the rest of the story:

But no money, and that is what talks.

It's in the same boat as Buffalo Central Terminal. It's day of use as a train depot is long gone for a variety of reasons. If they want to preserve it for other purposes, so be it. It's not a rail or public transit issue.

No one had the bawls to take on US Customs overreach and abuses at Port Huron, and they were at it before 9/11/01. Unless some high-up officials are ready to take them on in the Detroit area, a through Amtrak/VIA train is a moot point.

It's amazing that the citizenry of two great countries, the US and Canada, stands idly by while their politicians prop up rent seekers like the Morouns who do nothing but profit off the citizens being delayed just going about their business.

I'll say it again, there should not be border controls between the US and Canada, and we should have a common job/residence market like Europeans have inside the Schengen zone with US and Canadian citizens and legal residents able to travel freely between the two countries. US-Canada border "control" is an expensive and unnecessary farce.

It could be easily overcome if Customs stop were reduced to 30 minutes max, get it done, stop wasting time asking stupid questions, work the moving train, or polish up your Resumes, or face transfer to El Paso or Laredo. They have the manifest and all day to do their research. The rest of us work on deadlines or else - so can they.

There are too many incompatibilities between US and Canadian entry: DWI entering Canada, Syrian refugees, guns, fruit. The EU seems to be slowly falling apart for a variety of reasons, so not a model we will be moving to.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/12/17 12:07 by joemvcnj.

fatdane Wrote:
> Customs and Border controls do seem like a farce
> at times, but if one wants to eliminate it one has
> to eliminate a lot of civil service jobs and civil
> service empire builders

Redeploy to southern border and interior round up illegals and smugglers duty. Problem solved.

tq-07fan Wrote:
> I doubt there will ever be a new train crossing
> the US / Canadian border. It is so much easier to
> let the passengers deal with Customs on their own
> then to attempt to get a complete train through
> it.
> I hope the Morouns bought the Michigan Central
> station for nothing. It seams like it has such
> limited usefulness. I know some might think it
> cruel but it would have been better off being torn
> down in 1988.
> Jim

I completely agree, Jim. I worked to Detroit ( and then the Amshack) in the 80's before moving to Oakland and working out of 16th St Station . Both very similar , like bombed out Beirut, symbolic of life in the hood where thugs rule and destroy all monuments to civility.
In a strange twist, they continue to build condos next to the 16th St abandoned SP Oakland station eyesore. I guess the young techies and other self-absorbed types who buy these days don't even blink twice at gazing from their kitchen window at these once great temples of transportation, instead seeing them as archaeological ruins more suited for gangbanger "expression" ( AKA outrage) and other aspects of urban "culture"


It seems to me that existing railroad tracks could be put to good use in Michigan. Through proper planning, and perhaps some fed stimulus dollars, has anyone considered looking at re-introducing rail as a viable tourism option? Not for just getting people to Michigan, but beyond that. Say, a coastline rail - patterned after the Oriental Luxury lines so popular in Europe. Additional depots in tourism areas, or more lines running from Grand Rapids to those areas. Considering not just the end destination, but how people might get from a depot to outlying areas rich in experiential tourism, i.e. inland lakes, campsites and resorts. Through the use of a sort of "reverse engineering" such as the addition of rental vehicles (and not just any vehicles, but infrastructure for use of electric and hybrid transport, or bike, rental, with luggage pick up and drop off options.) Even allowing for resorts to run for example, horse drawn carriage transport, snowmobile or CAT transport in the winter - fun and different ways for tourists to enjoy all the state has to offer. Michigan has a chance here of becoming a bell-weather for the use of green energy and creating inter-state transport options that would be a shining example of infrastructure. Creating something of this nature that works for tourism would set an example for other parts of the nation dealing with transport issues. Not to mention the jobs it would create, and the ideal way in which it would allow people more flexibility in getting to different seasonal jobs around the state. It seems to that putting some funding into researching this possibility would be prudent and good for the state and it's residents. Rail was the right choice 100 years ago, and I think it's the right choice again.

What a great discussion! Imagine a sane, civilized society that might have invested in trains and mass transit instead of interstate highways. Read Fast Food Nation! And then imagine the vision put forth by the bank president and the business executives who aren't locked in to the crumbling infrastructure of the roads, bridges and highways to transport the autos. We have the money, it is misspent. And now we can't even maintain our roads and bridges! I love to fly but it is really a pain for the short flights I used to routinely take.

As a member of the AnnArbor.com editorial board and a bank president who has overseen $275 million in venture capital investments in my 22 year career I strongly support building a high speed rail line (and high speed freight) between Chicago, Ann Arbor, Detroit &amp Toronto. I believe that this would be a good investment and that private equity should back it. The M1 Rail Project on Woodward Avenue in Detroit is a good example of a private rail project that makes economic sense. All railroads in the U.S. were built with private risk capital. The massively subsidized U.S. Superhighway system has crowded out these investments, but the case for high speed inter-city rail is compelling for many reasons. The Japanese high speed rail system (they started building it in 1962 when Made In Japan was a byword for cheap plastic crap) was privatized and that company was sold for $90 billion to private investors. Unfortunately, Michigan is the Sahara of Venture Capital, so there may not be sufficient private equity capital to pull this off. In the past, when there was a good business idea searching for capital, the backers were sent to Wall Street where after much back-room deal-making the money was raised (just as the money was raised to build many of the railroads in the U.S.). Unfortunately, the geniuses on Wall Street decided a number of years ago that slicing, dicing and buying pieces of debt paper with massive leverage was a more profitable activity than raising the capital to build up good businesses (a/k/a making money the old fashioned way). That is a major reason why our country has not grown any new jobs for the past decade. Especially in a great depression, where the country should be searching out good and valuable projects to back with the public purse I agree with some famous words from the last Depression that Perhaps you will think the proposals too ambitious, too idealistic, altogether too grand. But isnt this a merit?

High Speed rail is something Michigan needs badly. When I travel by rail and otherwise elsewhere in the US and other countries and return to Michigan its like returning to the third world in terms of transportation. Improvements to the Detroit-Chicago Amtrak route need to start immediately and proceed incrementally based on funding availability. This should start with MDOT or Amtrak purchasing the 120-mile segment from Kalamazoo to Ypsilanti, which Norfolk Southern is interested in sheding and which would put about 215 miles of the 281-mile route under passenger control. Then the sidings need to be gradually lengthened with the goal of replacing the second track removed by Conrail in the 1990's. The track structure and signal system needs to be improved so train speeds can be increased. Beyond this there needs to be installation of grade-separated road crossings, closing or improvements of other at-grade crossing of roads,improvements to stations and passenger related yards, improved track drainage systems, and fencing or realinment of tracks where they pass through difficult areas. We should have 8 to 12 fast trains a day in each direction, some of which could originate or terminate (or connect to or from other trains) in Grand Rapids, Lansing, Bay City/Saginaw, and Toledo. Other states have made or are making similar infrastructure improvements. Michigan is badly lagging. John Guidinger

Not taking into account the end of cheap, abundant fossil fuels that will follow the peak of world oil production (which we may have already passed), the need to reduce carbon emissions and the relationship between both of those and the economic crisis ignores the necessary context within which to consider this possibility. Wanting it will not make it viable or sustainable. It didn't get done in the last several decades when energy was cheaper and capital was more abundant. It's not likely to get done now. Maybe after the renewable energy infrastructure (wind turbines in Lake Michigan?) is constructed (could we possibly build rail infrastructure at the same time?), high-speed rail will become feasible in this region. However, I wouldn't be surprised if a light-weight, moderate-speed (40 mph or so), personal rapid transit (PRT) system, like JPods, ends up being the preferred (i.e., sustainable) platform.

It isn't particularly useful to compare the American midwest with western europe. If high speed rail was some kind of economic panacea, then europe should be flourishing - no shortage of nifty trains there. However, it is no secret that most west european economies have at least as many problems as we do. Low or no GDP growth, low job growth, HIGH taxes, quasi-socialist governments, high youth unemployment - to mention a few. The trains may run on time, and have convenient schedules, but are they are hardly sufficient, in and of themselves, to create prosperity. Same goes for Japan - fastest trains in the world there, but nevertheless a problematic economy since the early ྖs. I'm glad to see Mr. Sheridan doing so well in these difficult times, but if he wants to be able to work and snooze on the way to Chicago he would be better off just buying a limo and hiring a driver. I doubt there is much political will for high speed rail statewide, let alone money - in any case. Michigan is a pretty conservative place, outside of Detroit/Ann Arbor area.

Its incredible the number of people who have forgotten the oil price shock of 2007/2008. The energy efficiency of even the 110mph diesel tilt trains over short haul flights is clear, and unlike air, the 110mph diesel corridors can be upgraded to electric transport using mature, well tested technology - so intercity travel in, out of, and into Michigan can be powered by the winds off Lake Michigan. Also note that the conflict in terms of smooth operation is not between passenger rail and freight rail, but between RAPID RAIL and SLOW, HEAVY RAIL. If a Rapid Rail path is established, it can support reliable scheduled passenger operation as well as Rapid Freight Rail. And Rapid Freight Rail corridors to take container freight faster than diesel road freight can travel is an essential step to cutting down the wear and tear on the Interstates and State Routes, so that Michigan can AFFORD to keep them in a state of good repair.

$2.6 billion dollars for the region. John Stossel had a program on this very issue. It is a complete boondoggle. There is nowhere in the US where anything like this works. And think about this, even if the train station in Detroit is full of people going to Chicago (I bet it is not the same in reverse), Amtrak still needs subsidies. Hey government! Leave the money in hands of the people. You are terrible at doing everything. Knock it off.

Good editorial and good comments. Thank you, Rich Sheridan, for being the voice of the forward-looking business community. Southern Michigan actually has population density quite sufficient to support fast, frequent trains. SNCF, the French rail company, has proposed a business model for a high-speed Midwest rail network which they believe will be self-supporting, once the infrastructure is in place. That's more than we can say for our highways. Remember the Interstate Highway System cost $1.3 trillion nationwide over about 40 years, and not only does it not pay for itself, it costs lots of money for maintenance. Roads, airports, rails, schools, water and sewage: these are all the infrastructure components that make an area attractive to private investment. As Michigan continues to cut back on those investments, it's no wonder businesses cut back on theirs and people leave the state. High speed rail and effective transit is certainly not "the magic bullet" for Michigan. But it's an essential component that's missing from our infrastructure - a component that needs to be added. It's also important because transportation is such a large part of everyone's personal budget. Families who can live with fewer cars save over $9000 each year, much of which goes to gasoline whose income supports governments unfriendly to us. What Michigan needs is the will to work for ourselves. We've been eager for someone else to pay for our needs: get outside businesses to invest, get the Federal Government to pay, but *don't* ask us to raise our own revenue. If we don't have the confidence to invest in our own state, how can we expect anyone else to? The states that received the majority of the $8 billion ARRA high speed rail funds (California, Florida, Illinois. ) were the states that were willing to invest significant amounts of their own money. Michigan, on the other hand, has reduced its support for Amtrak in the latest round of budget cuts. Nobody is going to invest in Michigan if we aren't willing to do it ourselves. I applaud members of the business community like Rich Sheridan who are willing to call for greater community investment in essential Michigan infrastructure. Now, can we get the State Senate to see that logic?

There is no rail system in the world that was built solely with private money on a for profit model. They all need help both to be built and for operating but that does not mean they are not a smart idea. We need commuter rail now and high speed as ASAP. The Europeans have been very far ahead for many years in energy efficiency, using renewable energy and mass transit. Now the Chinese are moving strongly into these sectors. The US will soon be a second class nation unless we get on the ball and modernize in energy and transportation.

Rich, I like your enthusiasm. However, if you were to create a business model and pitch the idea to private entities, I doubt there would be any interest. Although now is the best time in a generation to obtain public funding for such a project, the future of SE Michigan is far too unclear at this point to justify such a massive capital expenditure. I agree with you that high speed rail will play a necessary role in the future, but it is too early to determine what that role in SE Michigan will be.

It takes me five hours door-to-door to travel to Chicago. Planes, trains or automobiles, it doesnt matter, it takes five hours door-to-door. This means I cannot treat Chicago as a visit in a day business destination. The result? A smaller Menlo, less local jobs, less economic prosperity for us and our community. We have a great and growing business, it could simply be bigger and more prosperous locally if it was easier (more frictionless) to do business in a wider geography. Similarly for Toronto and Milwaukee, Cleveland and even Grand Rapids. The Midwest is an economic powerhouse disconnected from each other. The sum of the pieces is currently less than the whole. Just as a reminder: Populations of Wisconsin + Illinois + Indiana + Ohio + Michigan + Ontario = 60M people! Now, lets imagine a different future. Imagine I could take a commuter-rail line from downtown Ann Arbor (the current Amtrak station) to the proposed Aerotropolis between Willow Run and Detroit Metro Airport. Lets rename it the Aerailtroplois where people, goods, services and ideas come together from all over the world. These highly functioning elements of commerce would then depart on high-speed bullet trains west to Chicago and Milwaukee and east to Toronto, southeast to Cleveland and northwest to Grand Rapids. Now I can trim my business travel time in half and enjoy great comfort and community while being able to surf the internet and do work, have meetings and meet new people all in the comfort that many of us have had the opportunity to experience in other parts of the world such as Germany, France, or Japan. Air travel cannot match this on trips of 500 miles or less. Crazy idea? Why? Too expensive? Compared to what? Not the right time? Then when? Here are my deeper answers to the above questions: Too Crazy? We really dont have to invent anything new other than the collective will to think differently. The proven technology already exists. We can learn from the experiences of others. Too expensive? People and economic fortune have followed roads of commerce throughout human history. The faster the route, the more economic fortune that follows. Our continent was discovered during such a pursuit. Detroit and the Midwest have every natural reason to lead such a redevelopment. We are well positioned geographically, we have the talent to pull it off and we have the imperative to spur us to action. Our other choice is to follow the downward economic spiral by hanging on to the past and standing by as others invent the future. Not the right time? I cant think of a better time. As our federal government weighs the options of revitalizing our economy, we seem to only get as creative as repaving roads that will again deteriorate within a few years. Theres talk of building a third Chicago airport. What good will that do if the reason Chicago airspace is so snarled is the number of flights already heading there? If Chicago wins some future Olympics, a two-hour bullet train to southest Michigan could open up sports venues in our region to the Chicagoland area Olympic effort. Why not have the investments we are about to make leave a lasting legacy that creates a game-changing impact? In this era of brain-drain and youth attraction and retention concerns and initiatives, I can assure you that young people seek areas that are well-connected with accessible and sensible transit systems. Add this component to an area that already includes affordable housing, great schools and universities, abundant water, plentiful play spaces for every hobby imaginable, a lack of disastrous weather events and a friendliness that surpasses every other region of the nation and we would become a magnet for the talent that thriving businesses like Google (and Menlo!) seek to attract and hire. Finally, this is not simply an investment in infrastructure but also a business model that will employ throngs of mechanical engineers, propulsion engineers, civil engineers, planners, high-tech manufacturing engineers, industrial operations engineers, software engineers, construction teams and all the surrounding support staff and management that this area has in great abundance. What other area of the country and the world wouldnt also want such a system? We could be a center that designs and delivers such systems. The time and opportunity is now. We must coalesce the courage and will to make transformative changes necessary to leave our part of the world better than we found it. One hundred years ago, our region transformed the world. Ford, Edison, Kellogg, the Wright Brothers, and many others lead that transformation. Let us ride the shoulders of these giants to once again lead the world in innovation and industry. Let's finally consider the argument that we cannot afford such an investment. It would be interesting to do the calculation to see if we are already paying for this without getting it! Consider the current effect and cost of all of the unemployed engineers in our region and those that support them. Unemployment insurance, foreclosures, unpaid property taxes, empty seats in schools as families have departed, students who are educated here but then leave for other regions, businesses that don't grow as they are stifled by all of the factors I've mentioned. Let's at least give this the thought it deserves!

Even if some clueless politician was foolish enough to buy this baloney, and fund this boondoggle - by the time they got it built, many years hence - the state of Michigan will have so few people living along this corridor that it will truly be a "train to nowhere". You notice that the locales getting the most federal dollars for high speed rail are all places with rapidly growing (and LARGE) populations across the south and west, not the "Titanic" of the midwest. An yes, Ann Arbor, the Titanic is unsinkable. blub, blub, blub!

It's silly to place hopes on some magic fast train reviving our economy. And public-sector spending is only a temporary fix to a long-term unemployment problem. Despite what our president and our governor think, government can't spend our way out of a recession. We have neither the population density nor the job density to make trains anything more than a backup transportation solution. Better trains would be of serious benefit to only a tiny percentage of the population. We are far better off spending that kind of money on discovering renewable sources of energy for our cars and trucks, and maintaining our roads, which are literally crumbling because of our state's mismanagement of the money we have given them. The absolute last thing we should be doing is claiming trains have magic powers and banking everything on public development that will not do a whole lot for us. It's irresponsible. If high-speed trains were truly magic, private investors would be building them. They're not.

My gut says build a high speed rail between Chicago and Detroit and what you get is people from SE Michigan zipping to Chicago to spend their discretionary entertainment income. Comparing the U.S. to Europe or Detroit/Chicago to the east coast in both cases is comparing kumquats to Aardvarks. We don't have nearly the population density that Europe does that is conducive to train travel. As far as the east coast its 280-300 miles from Detroit to Chicago with not much in between. Its about 450 miles between Boston and Washington with New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore in between.

Great editorial. High-speed rail would further strengthen the state's University Research Corridor by linking that enormous brain power to the region's economic areas. One of the reason's the East Coast is such a formidable force is because the rail system in that part of the country has effectively linked the coast in such a manner that one can do business in multiple cities all in one day. You cannot over estimate the impact of facilitating the ease with which smart, creative people can get together and talk over breakfast, lunch, dinner, or drinks.

1. Build the locomotives and cars at Willow Run. 2. Use US produced steel for more tracks and bridge widening. 3. DIRECT airport connection. 4. Direct service from Chicago-Detroit-Windsor-Toronto.

If we're going to do this, do it right. We need dedicated parallel tracks so that passenger trains aren't fighting with heavy freight and won't have to move off the track while another train passes. Without dedicated tracks, high speed just isn't going to happen. The tracks will last longer without heavy freight pounding them too. I am highly skeptical that rail will slow, much less reverse, Michigan's depopulation and thus justify the heavy investment. Detroit is beyond hope and Ann Arbor isn't allowed to grow to replace it, even if the economy weren't such a mess, so what's going to anchor the Michigan side of the system? It might make it easier for Michiganders fleeing the state to visit the relatives they left behind, but.

Scooter dog, Although the Detroit to Chicago Amtrak trip is VERY popular (go to the Amtrak station any morning, especially weekends and it is jammed. I know because I ride this train). it would be even more popular if: 1. It was high speed 2. If it ran on it's own tracks. Amtrak A2 to Chicago is a project that has run for years only half-completed. It needs fully committed tracks so that it doesn't have to sit an wait for freight trains and it can run full speed. It's amazing that it is a success when it's never had a real commitment to making it viable regional transport. How successful would the auto be if we never build anything but dirt cow paths through America? In reality that's been the commitment we've made to urban rail and yet it still carries passengers daily. Amazing. But it's past time to commit to high speed rail and get off the "cow path" tracks between Detroit and Chicago.

This is spot on. The city of Ann Arbor's efforts are one of the bright spots in this state. Showing strong support for rail is smart given A2 is right in the middle of this line and is the most used stop between Det. and Chicago. But they have to build the new station for the commuters. The old station on Depot will not handle any more riders. Well said Mr. Dearing. Commuter rail is going in all across the US and it will be needed to bring people to the high speed. This state finally has a chance for modern transit. It will open up new economic opportunities.

They rebuilt the rails from detroit to chicago 15 yrs ago and took out the second rail and added new engines and cars and "Hello" nothing happened.Amtrack still needed huge taxpayer bailouts to stay operating.So doing it again is just pouring more money down the drain. Why not take the 244 million and invest in roads and bridges. People are not going to use the train.Your dreaming.The american family will use the auto till hell freezes over before using the trains for transportation.

With the Jan 28, 2010 $244 Million Dollar federal set aside for the Chicago/Detroit route, public imput is really important. All affected areas should run news articles and encourage feedback. At this point it is difficult to clearly determine the cost versus the (long term)gains. Is there a "corridor initiative" that is sharing information and getting input?

High Speed Rail will do nothing but waste money. Nobody will use it and it will burn millions of tax dollars.

Ms. Murray, You must have been reading my mind about building the trains in Michigan. I was hoping that President Obama would not keep stoking the fires of automobile production, but instead rebuild our mass transit system. We have idle factory space and a good number of skilled workers who could be easily trained to build not only trains, but other modes of transportation like buses. As an aside to this, I would love to take a high speed train to Chicago or anywhere alse for that matter. I don't like air travel because of the long wait and gouging that the airlines have become accustomed to. I used to take the insanely efficient German rail when I was there. Not only did it get me to where I wanted to go in a cost effective and timely manner, but it added an air of genteelness I find lacking with air and car travel.

The way to rebuild Michigan's economy is to support what will drive Michigan to produce things other people want to buy. It could be batteries, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, education, precision parts, or vacations. When other people buy things that we produce, we will have jobs. A fast train to Chicago? After the construction period, how does that bring money to Ann Arbor or Michigan? It will make it easier for us to go to Chicago to shop, but that's money going the other way. People from Chicago aren't going to come here to shop. The train system on the East Coast moves people to their jobs. Unless we expect to work in Chicago, there seems to be little benefit to us, after the construction ends (and no benefit to most of us who won't be working on the construction). Supporters of a trillion dollar project to build mink-lined caves for bats can come up with reports from economists at good universities that show how the caves will produce untold tax revenues and $100K jobs for high school dropouts. They do that sort of thing constantly (and with impressive data tables and charts). Let's use our common sense - in the end it's less likely to fool us.

First, if we want this investment to have an impact on Michigan, we need to get our hands on the production of the trains. If the administration is shelling out the money, why should we send our money overseas to have the trains built? Keep the money here in the US, and more specifically in Michigan. Why be so hasty that we can't keep the benefits where it works back into the economy? If Billions of dollars are on the line, shouldn't we have a Ford or a GM high speed train? It sounds better than batteries. Secondly, the money that I have seen spent and approved so far is for cosmetic improvements to the stations: new facilities, nice landscaping. Specifically for the Troy location, which I would utilize if we could get the high-speed rail up and running, did nothing to address parking, which there is a serious issue. The design allows one only to bus in or be dropped off. Do these people making these decisions actually try to use the facilities themselves, or only like the pretty drawings that are laid out before them? There is no parking facility in Troy. There are limited locations to park on the street. If we are talking about expansion of usage, they need to plan on hundreds of people using the facilities, and there should be parking to accommodate. Perhaps they should study Chicago a little better. Their park and ride locations are very smart and very functional.

"High-speed rail would get Michigan's economy back on track" Your editorial would be more persuasive if it were more modest about the benefits of investing (up to) billions of dollars in a high-speed Detroit-Chicago rail connection. Have there been any reliable studies on the matter? You can't tell from the editorial, because the only 'data' is a short quotation from an interview with the CEO of a local tech firm. Notice I use the word "reliable" above. It seems like every time a proposed (expensive) public project comes along, it is justified in part by vast promises of future benefits backed up by anecdotal evidence. Let's get some hard information before we spend billions of dollars we don't have.

Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement and Privacy Policy

© 2013 MLive Media Group All rights reserved (About Us). The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of MLive Media Group

Related Articles

The Accessible Streets Studio Announces First Cohort of Entrepreneurs

Michigan Central, Ford Motor Company’s new mobility innovation district in Corktown, and Newlab, a community of experts and innovators applying transformative technology to solve the world’s biggest challenges, today announced that seven companies from a competitive pool of global applicants have been selected as members of the inaugural cohort of the Accessible Streets Studio.

Stone Carver Re-Creates 11,500-Pound Limestone Capital For Michigan Central Station

A new 11,500-pound replica of an original capital stone has been created and installed in the Waiting Room façade of Detroit’s historic Michigan Central Station after more than 400 hours of work by a mid-Michigan stoneworker. Ford Motor Company is restoring the building to its original grandeur as the centerpiece of a new mobility innovation district in Corktown.

Ford Reveals Plans For Inclusive, Vibrant, Walkable Mobility Innovation District Around Michigan Central Station

Ford’s vision for a 30-acre walkable community anchored by iconic Michigan Central Station is part of its plan to reshape the future of global mobility, working with other partners and connecting to a broader network of city and regional assets and innovation.

Federal stimulus grants to fund new Dearborn rail station, Michigan train station upgrades

A new Amtrak station will be built in Dearborn adjacent to The Henry Ford and train stations in Troy and Battle Creek will be renovated as part of a series of rail-related federal stimulus grants awards expected to be announced today by President Obama during a speech in Tampa. The $40 million for Michigan is part of a larger $244 million award to the Michigan, Indiana and Illinois state transportation departments to fund a high-speed rail initiative that would link Pontiac and Chicago. The money is coming from the $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Pontiac-Chicago line will also get $133 million for station and track improvements in Illinois and $71 million to reduce passenger train delays linked to freight train traffic that shared the same tracks. The Amtrak station work in Troy would be linked to the proposed Troy/Birmingham Multi-modal Transit Center, which is designed to serve as a regional public transportation hub that connects bus, taxi and rail services. The project, behind Midtown Square at Coolidge and Maple, has a $7 million price tag and has had other money committed from the two cities and in the federal transportation budget. The Pontiac-Chicago route is part of the proposed Midwest Regional Rail Initiative introduced last year as a joint effort by Michigan and Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota to develop a high-speed rail network. The states have applied for more than $900 million in federal stimulus money for the project, portions of which will be covered by today's awards. The stimulus package as approved last year by Congress included $8 billion earmarked for major high-speed rail projects. The president's announcement today is expected to cover high-speed projects that involve 13 projects across 31 states, with a California effort getting the biggest award at $2.25 billion. Other major awards today for new or improved project will be: &bull $1.1 billion for a Chicago-to-St. Louis corridor. &bull $1.25 billion for a Tampa-to-Orlando, Fla., corridor. &bull $810 million for a Madison, Wis.-Milwaukee corridor. &bull $520 million for the Raleigh-to-Charlotte corridor. &bull $400 million for a Cleveland-Cincinnati corridor.

Watch the video: Michigan Central Station with William Scott Davison (January 2022).