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Everything to Know About Michigan Central’s Reopening

June 3, 2024

Photo credit: David Guralnick, The Detroit News

The Detroit News
May 31, 2024
Hayley Harding

Michigan Central Station is finally back.

It’s been 36 years since the last train left the station, but next week, Ford Motor Co. will reopen the long-empty building to the public once again.

When the station reopens, it’ll be the first time in a generation that visitors will be invited in to see the historic space, now reinvented for new uses.

Here’s what you need to know:

What is Michigan Central Station?

Back in its earliest days, Michigan Central Station was exactly what it sounds like: A train station connecting Detroit to cities around the country. It opened in 1913 after the previous station, located at Third and Jefferson, burned down. Michigan Central Station was a passenger rail hub, but as one of the most glamorous buildings of the era, it housed more than just trains.

According to the Detroit Historical Society, the waiting room had marble floors, grand ceilings, beautiful chandeliers and more. It also had a variety of amenities for travelers, including a florist, a restaurant, bathing facilities, a newsstand and more.

The beautiful architecture helped to secure it a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The application for submission to the register notes that the station “represents Detroit’s connection with the outside world.”

“It was the point of arrival for thousands of immigrants,” the application reads. “It was the point of departure for thousands of troops during both world wars. It stood greeting hundreds of important visitors to Detroit.”

When rail travel started to decline in the 50s, the station cycled through several owners before ultimately closing in 1988. It sat empty for many years, becoming a symbol of the city in a different way as the building decayed and was vandalized. Ford Motor Co. bought the building in 2018 and revamped it.

When do tours begin?

Tickets for the public to tour the station for free begin June 7 and run through June 16, but they’re fully booked.

But you’re in luck: If you’d like to visit the renovated building this summer before it opens again permanently, you’ll have an opportunity nearly every weekend from June until August.

As The Detroit News reported earlier this month, there will be “Summer at the Station” public access every Friday and Saturday from June 21 to Aug. 31. During that time period, construction will pause so that people can tour the space and even use a free app to follow a narrated tour.

On Fridays, the space will be open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; on Saturdays, you can visit from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Can I still get tickets for the concert?

Unfortunately not — tickets for the 90-minute June 6 concert were claimed within minutes of becoming available.

The concert will be livestreamed as well.

Where is the station?

The station is located on 15th Street, just south of Michigan Avenue and east of Vernor, in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.

How long was Michigan Central Station a functional train station?

Nearly 75 years! The station opened in Dec. 1913 (eight days earlier than anticipated because of the fire at the previous station) and took passengers across the country until January 1988.

How long was Michigan Central Station closed?

It was closed for more than 35 years. The last train left the station in January 1988, according to the Detroit Historical Society.

Why are they reopening Michigan Central Station?

Ford plans to use the depot as part of a “mobility tech campus.” The company promised the space would be home to 5,000 jobs, from Ford technology teams to suppliers and startups. As The Detroit News reported last month, Corktown — the neighborhood the station is in — already has 400 Ford employees working there as part of the Ford Pro commercial vehicle division.

Bill Ford Jr., the executive chairman of Ford Motor Co. has also said that Google will use space in the building to train students in tech skills such as coding and conduct drone testing.

What else will be in the building isn’t exactly clear, but on the building’s website, Ford says it will have a “first-of-its-kind mobility testing platform,” as well as restaurants, retail, and support for local entrepreneurs and artists. Commercial tenants are expected to move in this fall.

Will there be trains at Michigan Central Station again?

Maybe? It isn’t clear at this point. Officials have hinted that rail service could return to the station but nothing definitive has been announced.

Where can I learn more about Michigan Central?

The station’s official site is There, you can find all sorts of information on not only the opening festivities but also what comes next. If you’re hungry for more history, you can find a wealth of information from the Detroit Historical Society as well as Historic Detroit.