Visitors don't mind long wait to tour Michigan Central Depot

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Thousands have waited in line and thousands more plan to queue up as they flock to see the iconic Michigan Central Station during its public open house.

More than 40,100 people have registered through Monday to get a glimpse of the 104-year-old building. Sightseers have marveled at the columns, arches and vaulted ceiling after Ford Motor Co. announced it had bought the long-closed station.

Those who preregistered online last week had more than a two-hour wait Sunday. Many who tried to register onsite or online Sunday were turned away and told to return Monday. 

The final day of the open house is Monday, when tours run from 10-3 p.m. Those who plan to attend must preregistered online. It will be a first-come, first-served process, organizers said. 

Nearly 20,000 more attendees registered in 48 hours, officials said Sunday, and while they’re thrilled with the positive response from the public, there are no plans to extend showings. 

Throngs of people stand in line waiting to tour the Michigan Central Depot in Corktown, Saturday afternoon, June 23, 2018.

John Hopper, with his wife Sandra Hopper and their two sons, said they stood in line Saturday for 2.5 hours, often in the rain, but it was worth the wait. 

"My parents and grand parents left their coal mining jobs in West Virginia and came through (the train station) in 1929 to join Henry Ford's assembly for $5 a day," said Hopper of Clinton Township. "It's special to see that this place will be acquired by Ford, and it'll be great to see it come back to life."

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Sam Locricchio, a Ford spokesman, said the automaker has seen an overwhelming reaction from the public. That's why they extended tours through Monday. 

"We're receiving such a positive reaction from the community and it may take a bit to get inside, but people completely forget about that once they see how grand it is," Locricchio said. "We're happy to hear that almost everyone who comes through wants to understand the history and wants to preserve it. We don't want to lose or forget what we had, have and what will be of this building."

The open house features the "Hopes & Dreams" installation to see the past, present and future plans, a self-guided tour with old photos of inside the train station, a gallery showcasing the building's history and artifacts, local artists creating permanent art and a sneak peek of the Ford STEAM Lab. 

Richard Jacob of St. Clair Shores took photos of the columns and wallpaper still visible. 

"I think the last time I came down here was in 1966 to pick up an uncle from Atlanta," said Jacob, 68. "I didn't fathom how important it was until it closed down and I'm much more in awe now."

The 20-story station closed in 1988. 

Click here to join the waitlist for Monday.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_