OPINION: Return of Michigan Central Station great for Detroit

After more than three decades of being abandoned, the iconic Michigan Central Station is set to reclaim its place in the heart of Detroit. As a resident of the area and a student at the University of Detroit Mercy, I can’t help but feel a surge of excitement as this architectural wonder prepares to open its doors once again. 

The Michigan Central Station was a main passenger rail station located at 2405 West Vernor Highway in the Corktown neighborhood. It is now poised for a remarkable revival with its doors opening soon. You can see a giant projection on the front of the station’s building that reveals “06-06-2024.” The city eagerly awaits the grand reopening. June 6 will mark not only a triumph of architecture but also a testament to Detroit’s resilience.  

Thanks to Ford Motor Co., which purchased the station for $90 million in 2018, now the Michigan Central Station is set up for a revival. With an estimated $740 million that was committed to its rehabilitation, it will not only be a transit hub but also a place where history meets innovation, and where Detroiters can gather once again to create memories and dreams.  

Constructed in 1913, the Michigan Central Station was a bustling hub for travelers, connecting our city to the rest of the nation. Built for the Michigan Central Railroad, this architectural classic replaced the original downtown depot after a devastating fire in 1913. Formally dedicated on Jan. 4, 1914, the station remained open for business until January 6, 1988, when Amtrak stopped its service.  

For nearly 75 years, it served as a bustling hub for travelers, connecting Detroit to the nation. Trains shuttled in and out, carrying dreams, memories and the heart of Detroit’s industrial power. When the doors closed in 1988, it left behind a beautiful Detroit relic, a symbol of both decay and resilience. The city has many abandoned buildings, so it was no guarantee that the station would ever be reopened.  

Ford Motor Co., saw potential where others saw ruin. As a UDM student, I’ve watched the transformation unfold, with scaffolding, the cranes and the secrets that lies behind those boarded-up windows. Executive Chairman Bill Ford said that he didn’t want the station to just be this corporate entity; he wants it to be part of the fabric of Corktown and the entire city. 

The Ford family also owns the Detroit Lions, and it is hard not to compare the rebuilding of both the Lions and the station. It is interesting how the team’s glory days coincided with the station’s decline, and now, as the Lions rebuild, so does this historic landmark. Next season fans might even gather there for a tailgate before the next game this fall. 

The Michigan Central Station was built in the Beaux-Arts style, relating to the classical decorative style of the É cole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. It was designed by architects who had previously worked on New York’s Grand Central Terminal. At the time of its construction, it held the distinction of being the tallest rail station in the world, soaring to a height of 230 feet. 

So, mark your calendars for the grand reopening on June 6. The details of opening festivities, including speakers and performers, are still being worked out. The organizers of the opening are still figuring out how to safely accommodate the massive crowds expected. It will be a historic moment in Detroit’s history that residents will not want to miss.