Abandoned Monuments of D-Town Industry

The building above is the Michigan Central Station (aka the Michigan Central Depot).  The Beaux Arts masterpiece was designed by the architectural firms of Warren and Wetmore and Reed and Stern, and completed in 1913.   At the time it was the tallest rail station in the world.  The construction cost?  15 million dollars.  At the beginning of World War I, the peak of rail travel in the United States, more than two hundred trains left the station each day, and in the 1940s, more than four thousand passengers a day used the station and more than three thousand people worked in its office tower.   Most passengers would arrive at and leave from Michigan Central Station by interurban service or streetcar and not as pedestrians due to the station’s distance from downtown Detroit.  This unfortunate detail proved to be the station’s demise …

… when the interurban service was discontinued less than two decades after Michigan Central Station opened, it was effectively isolated from a large majority of the population.  To make matters worse, the original design included no large parking facility either (the automobile was not such a major facet of life in 1912!). So, anyone who needed to use the 500,000 square feet of inconvenient station (employees, passengers, etc.) had the added challenge of parking.  By the 60s the situation was dire, and by ’88 the station was closed.

On April 7, 2009, the Detroit City Council voted to demolish the building with a specific resolution to expedite demolition.   In order to stop this horror, Stanley M. Christmas, a Detroit resident, has since filed a law suit against the city.   On to the next …

The Packard Motor Car Company Plant was designed by Albert Kahn and opened in 1903.  The Detroit factory – 3.5 million square feet of space between 47 buildings spanning 35 acres – was the most modern facility of its time. The Packard factory was also the first to use reinforced concrete in industrial construction, and employed over 40,000 workers skilled in 80 trades.  Packard was, prior to World War II, one of the premier luxury car manufacturers in the world. During the war they produced aircraft engines under license from Rolls Royce.  After the war, though, business wasn’t so simple …

… like many of the remaining American auto makers in the 1950’s, Packard struggled to survive, while Ford and General Motors engaged in an aggressive price war. The acquisition of Studebaker with its larger dealer network in 1954 failed to save the company, and in 1956 a court order closed the Packard plant for good.  Since then, it has earned the honor of becoming the largest abandoned building in Detroit (with way too many competitors).

Check out this great post on Retronaut for more amazing photos of the beautiful waste in Detroit.  It all begs the question what next?


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