Michigan Central Station (also known as Michigan Central Depot or MCS), built in mid-1912 through 1913 for the Michigan Central Railroad, was Detroit, Michigan's passenger rail depot from its opening in 1913 after the previous Michigan Central Station burned, until the cessation of Amtrak service on January 6, 1988. At the time of its construction, it was the tallest rail station in the world.
It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Restoration projects and plans have gone as far as the negotiation process, but none has come to fruition. In 2011 work began to remove glass and asbestos from the thousands of window frames in the station. To date, the first floor windows have been fully abated. Work continues, though at a slow pace.
The building is of the Beaux-Arts Classical style of architecture, designed by the Warren & Wetmore and Reed and Stem firms who also designed New York City's Grand Central Terminal. The price tag for this 500,000-square-foot (46,000 m2) building was $15 million when it was built. Roosevelt Park creates a grand entryway for the station, which was fully realized around 1920.
The building is composed of two distinct parts: the train station itself and the 18-story tower. The roof height is 230 feet (70 m). Ideas as to what the tower was originally designed to include a hotel, offices for the rail company, or a combination of both. In reality, the tower was only used for office space by the Michigan Central Railroad and subsequent owners of the building. The tower was never completely utilized; the top floors were never completely furnished, and served no function.
The main waiting room on the main floor was modeled after an ancient Roman bathhouse with walls of marble and vaulted ceilings. The building also housed a large hall adorned with Doric columns that housed the ticket office and arcade shops. Beyond the arcade was the concourse, which had brick walls and a large copper skylight. From here, passengers would walk down a ramp to the departing train platforms, 11 tracks in all. Below the tracks and building is a large area for baggage and mail handling and offices.
In 2008, the station owners said that their goal is to renovate the decaying building that was closed in 1988. The estimated cost of renovations was $80 million, but the owners viewed finding the right use as a greater problem than financing. On March 25, 2011, in an effort to push forward a potential sale and redevelopment.