The grand symbol of Detroit’s urban decay, Michigan Central Depot opened its doors almost 100 years ago. Closed for years, no other Detroit ruin can quite match it for shear magnificence. It was the tallest and busiest train station in the United States when it opened December 16, 1913. On Michigan Avenue between Corktown and Mexicantown, “MCS” featured marble floors, a sweeping concourse and gold-plated chandeliers. Since Amtrak closed it in 1988, it has become a favorite hangout for homeless, scrappers, junkies, urban explorers and just about everybody I know.
Michigan Central Depot has made cameo appearances in dozens of movies including “The Transformers” as the building Shia LeBouf must climb at the end of the movie. The owner has put up tall fences and chained the entrances but can’t keep out the curious adventurers. Unfortunately, it’s beyond repair yet can’t be torn down because it’s a historic landmark owned by a cranky billionaire. It’s the ultimate symbol of the automobile’s complete triumph over public transportation. And so it sits there, gutted, windswept, vandalized… but still smiling for photographs.