Friday, Jun. 04, 2010

2. Michigan Central Station

When Michigan Central Station was built in 1913, it was intended to be a key gateway to the Midwest. By the late 1970s, however, the massive depot southwest of Detroit's downtown had fallen into disrepair, and the last train left the station in the late 1980s. Now it's shuttered, a failed modern Greek temple. Graffiti covers the train station and its 18-story tower. Nearly all the windows are blown out. For many Detroiters, it's a painful symbol of the city's collapse.

Yet the station is also an odd marketing tool. It's been a popular backdrop for Hollywood films, including Transformers and Four Brothers. In 2009, the city government moved to demolish the building, which is owned by a reclusive billionaire, Manuel "Matty" Moroun, but preservationists have stalled those plans, arguing that the station should be rehabilitated in the mold of central train stations in Washington and Kansas City, Mo. The question is, Who will pay for it?

Note: Access to the building is restricted, so the best way to see the station to drive by, get out of your car and snap a few photos.