Photographs of Detroit for Traveler magazine
Artists pain the walls of a house called The Imagination Station in the shadow of Michigan Central Depot.
Imagination Station stands in the shadow of Detroit’s abandoned, train station. Painted colors splash from a second story window, and people congregate on the lawn to plan the future. It’s the work of a racially and generationally diverse team of community organizers, artists and activists who’ve united to show how dilapidation can be recycled into inspiration: They envision a combination community center, public art space and living quarters for resident artists.
Michigan Central Station is a deserted, hulking ruin that towers over six-lane wide Michigan Avenue in Corktown west of downtown. The historic Detroit landmark was designed by Warren and Wetmore (NY Grand Central Station). The 18-story Beaux Art neoclassical style building was completed in 1913 and represents a time before riots and decline of the auto industry.
During its heyday, the Michigan Central Depot was crowded with African Americans coming from the rural South to work and Eastern Europeans traveling from Ellis Island into the fast growing city, Rail passengers passed under a copper skylight, huge arched windows with Corinthian columns into massive waiting rooms with an impressive vaulted ceiling. An office tower rose above the station with the top floors never being finished.
When the station opened, automobiles were not common. Gradually cars took over the Detroit-Chicago route, and passenger traffic declined. The station thrived prior to World War II, but a decline soon began. Two failed attempts were made to sell the building, but the main waiting room and park entrance closed in 1967. The building began to deteriorate. After a short revival in the early â70s, the last train departed in 1988.
Today chain-link fencing topped with razor wire surrounds the massive terminal. Stonework is marred by graffiti. A few grasses brighten the entrance to Roosevelt Park the neighborhood is in transition between decay and a resurgence of young people. Squatters live in an abandoned building on the corner. Artists paint murals and decorate the interior of Imagination Station.
Co-founder of Imagination Station is Jeff DeBruyn 248) 953-0469