In Detroit, everyone has a favorite burned out, blighted building. It’s what we do. We rally and protest for the right to choose and workers rights and civil rights. And for our buildings. Please, don’t mess with our buildings. We will stand in front of the wrecking ball and mourn the destruction like we’d mourn a lost friend.
The Michigan Central Station is one of these.
First off, the photos don’t do this giant any justice. Second, looking at the photos, you may wonder where the beauty lies?
The building once housed our region’s main train station and was built in 1913. Think Grand Central. Penn Station. Union Stations of the Chicago and D.C. variety. Except in Detroit, time went on and rail (and mass transit as a whole) just wasn’t needed like it is in other thriving metropoli. We just love our cars too damn much.
The building’s been empty since the ’80’s.
Now all that’s left is a shell of a former life. In many circles, the MCS is actually the stereotypical “favorite building” — it’s much cooler to love the more obscure, less-publicized buildings strewn throughout the city’s neighborhoods.
But I don’t care how cliche it is. I love it anyway. The MCS is a hulking shadow beckoning you home. It can be seen as you approach downtown from a couple freeways and is especially creepy at dusk, when you see the unlit monolith rising above the city. It’s the tallest building in the surrounding area, and is in the middle of a large, empty park — save for the homeless who take rest there — making it even more out of place and isolated. It’s the creepiness and the isolation that make it so beautiful.
So why put this photo in my series? I drive by this place weekly, so it’s definitely a part of my routine. Every time I head that way, I still look forward to seeing it. I don’t know why I’m drawn to it, but I am. Instead of considering it an eyesore, I show it off proudly to visiting friends and family. Of course, I constantly have to wave off their “typical Detroit” negative comments.
They just don’t understand it.
Don’t get me wrong, it is an embarrassment. It’s owned by an old, rich dude who doesn’t have much interest in making the city thrive. Or even making it pretty. It’d cost millions to renovate or demolish it. Millions he probably has, but oh well. There have been talks of a re-birth, but nothing ever comes of them.
So it sits, like a lot of Detroit. Waiting for its next move.