Michigan Central Station

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Here is Michigan Central Station – one of the greatest urban ruins in the entire country. This structure is amazing in countless ways. Built in 1913, at a cost of $15 million, no detail or expense was spared in its construction. The workmanship is unlike anything made today, from the plaster work inside to the solid marble walls on almost every floor. MCS was designed by the same firm who designed Grand Central Station in NYC. This building has been a personal photo project of mine. (See more of MCS) Hollywood seems captivated by it as well. You’ve seen it make appearances in Tranformers 1 and 3, The Island, and Eminem’s music video Beautiful just to name a few works.
Whether you’re approaching Detroit from the suburbs or from Canada, this 18 story monument is plainly visible for miles in any direction. It stands alone outside the cluster of buildings that make up the downtown area. Unfortunately, both natural and unnatural elements have taken their toll on this incredible building for the better part of two decades. Yet, there is still a haunting beauty about this place. The architectural details present are too numerous to list – details that you just won’t see in any modern building. Details that were created in a time when craftsmanship meant something. Looters have made off with anything of value. The damaged walls have been stripped of their beautiful marble. A clock once sat ornately in the arch over the defunct ticket counter. Look closely at the floor and you can even make out where some of the original tiles have been lifted. The plaster work still reveals its old world construction – a type whose art seems to have been lost.
“SAVE THE DEPOT” has been tattooed across the top of the station with spray paint, sending a message of hope for a brighter future that is still largely uncertain. When MCS was created it was intended to make a statement, and it has for every one of its nearly 100 years. These days however, that statement is a simultaneous burden – being a symbol of what Detroit was as well as the poster child of urban decay. You cannot help but stare at this marvel and wonder just how could things have gone so wrong for this once great building and the city that it sits in.
Here, the haphazard order of the letters on the sign mesh perfectly with the decay behind the razor fence – the broken double layer windows over the entrance, the shoddy work of the wood now concealing the entrance, and the partially scrubbed stains on the front of the building. At the same time the grand details of the old world construction still shine through – just look at the detail revealed in the columns and arch over the main window – detail that tells why it should be preserved
Still, in death it looks just as magnificent as it did in life.
Currently attempts are being made to preserve and restore portions of the station. To date, the glass has been removed from the bottom floor, the floor of the grand waiting room has been polished, and most of the graffiti has been cleaned up from the bottom both inside and out. Efforts are also being made to patch the roof and remove thousands of gallons of water from the basement. Hopefully this work will continue and the station will be restored as a crown jewel – and become a symbol of the restoration and reinvigoration of Detroit.
Used with permission from Chris Horner www.LensArtwork.com

Chris Horner

About Chris Horner

Chris Horner is an award winning freelance photographer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He specializes in fine art images and commercial photography.