Timeline: Michigan Central Depot

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Long before it became a symbol of Detroit’s decay, Michigan Central Depot was a major transportation hub for the city.

Here’s a timeline of the iconic building:

1913: Michigan Central Station opens to serve the Michigan Central Railroad, a subsidiary of the New York Central Railroad. The 18-story building is the tallest railroad station in the world. Price tag is $2.5 million – the equivalent of $55 million in today’s dollars.

1971: Amtrak takes over the station. The company spends $1 million toward modernization and adds a bus terminal.

1975: Train station is added to the National Register of Historic Places.

More: Ford in talks to buy Michigan Central Depot

April 1985: Conrail says will try to sell the station or abandon it. With Amtrak running only six to eight trains a day in and out of the station, it seeks a smaller location.

December 1985: New York-based Kaybee Corp. buys the station for an undisclosed amount. Amtrak and Conrail remain tenants.

Jan. 5, 1988: Michigan Central Depot closes after the last train for Chicago departs.

1989: Real estate developer Mark Longton Jr. buys the terminal in hopes of turning it into a casino, nightclub and hotel. Voters would not approve a casino in the city until 1996.

1990s: Depot is stripped and defaced by scrappers and vandals.

1995: Controlled Terminals Inc. of Detroit, controlled by Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun, buys the building and puts up a razor-wire fence. Urban spelunkers continue to break into the building.

2001: Moroun family unveils a restoration plan. Nothing comes of it.

2003: Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick wants the building for the city’s new police headquarters. Plans are called off due to cost.

2009: Detroit City Council requests emergency demolition at Moroun family’s expense.

2011: Moroun family says they will begin to remove the asbestos-laden caulking and glazing from first-floor windows.

2013: Detroit City Council orders Moroun family to tear it down.

2017: First sanctioned activity since the 1980s takes place with an invitation-only event for the fourth-annual Detroit Homecoming.

Source: The Detroit News archives and historicdetroit.org