• Michigan Central Station

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by gokeefe
 
Mr. Norman,

Did you travel through Michigan Central under Amtrak? If so ... Any impressions? I can't recall if you've posted previously regarding such. Would be interested to hear your thoughts on any comparisons to pre-Amtrak if such occurred or just observations of remanant grandeur ... Such as it was.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
From Hilton Suites Boca Raton--

Mr. O'Keefe, I rode into Detroit MCS both in "railroad days" and in the Amtrak era. The Amtrak era included a '74 ride on the Detroit-Buffalo Niagra Rainbow. The Waiting Room was closed, the ticket cage was set up in the concourse. The Amtrsk Police station was more visible thsn any "passenger amenity".
  by Tadman
 
Got to love this reporting. Telling us that the station is now crumbling when Ford has spent the last year stabilizing it and pumping a million gallons of water out. $50 this "reporter" did not leave their eco-friendly organic coffee shop in Brooklyn to write this article, as most of it is wikipedia-available information and soundbytes from press releases.

Real talk: I have been there, it is no longer crumbling. It is not Brooklyn shabby-chic brunchable in yoga pants, it's still a construction area where (gasp) people still work with their hands (and make very good money doing it). There might be small areas that are dealing with a crumbling problem or areas outside the scope, but they are doing great work on this building.

Honestly the Times could fire all their writers and hire a bunch of offshore people with great english skills to synthesize tweets and press releases for 90% of their work.
  by gokeefe
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Wed Jan 22, 2020 7:29 pmThe Waiting Room was closed, the ticket cage was set up in the concourse. The Amtrsk Police station was more visible thsn any "passenger amenity".
Many thanks for the observation. Interesting to me that in spite of very low utilization Amtrak effectively protected, operated and preserved the facility.

It seems to me that they tried harder in Detroit than they did in some of the other large legacy terminals they had to take over.

Cincinnati, Raleigh (Seaboard) and Springfield (B&A) all come to mind as examples of terminals that saw very little investment from Amtrak in the 1980s.
  by Tadman
 
Conrail was in the building as office space for quite some time, perhaps that's why it was semi-maintained as late as it was.
  by gokeefe
 
Wow, no kidding. How much space did they have?
  by CHTT1
 
I read somewhere that even in its heyday, New York Central couldn't fill the office space and several floors were never finished or occupied.
  by gokeefe
 
I'm not surprised by that.

It really is quite large even by early 20th century standards.

Only so many clerks one needs ... Especially for a large railroad with plenty of access to telephone/telegraph/mail.

Interesting to think that when Ford moves in it will be the first time "ever" that the building is fully occupied.
  by Ridgefielder
 
gokeefe wrote: Fri Jan 24, 2020 9:14 pm I'm not surprised by that.

It really is quite large even by early 20th century standards.

Only so many clerks one needs ... Especially for a large railroad with plenty of access to telephone/telegraph/mail.

Interesting to think that when Ford moves in it will be the first time "ever" that the building is fully occupied.
Impossible to say at this remove, but I'd bet Central was expecting a business/office district to spring up around the station-- as happened around Grand Central in Manhattan after it's construction in 1869-70 (remember, there were plenty of people in upper management at the NYC in the 1910's who were working for the company in the 1870's.) If that *had* happened, the office space would have been a savvy move. But for whatever reason, it didn't. The business district grew in a different direction.
  by Tadman
 
I think that is indeed the case. Instead it went due north to "new center", the area around GM headquarters.
  by mtuandrew
 
Tadman wrote: Mon Jan 27, 2020 2:10 pm I think that is indeed the case. Instead it went due north to "new center", the area around GM headquarters.
General Motors HQ is still at the Renaissance Center just east of downtown, no? Or was there an earlier headquarters up Woodward near where Wayne State is today?

Regarding MCS, it’s in a fine spot for through traffic from America to Canada but a poor spot for through service within America. Should Amtrak move there, it ought to coincide with new commuter service to Pontiac to replace the Wolverine dogleg.
  by Tadman
 
The original headquarters was right across the street from the current Amtrak station from 1920 to about 2000. It's a very significant building in that inventions such as the artificial heart, automatic transmission, and air conditioning were invented or perfected there and also the war effort or "arsenal of democracy" was heavily concentrated there. Lots of history making moments between the HQ building and the engineering building across the street, both adjacent to the current station.

GM moved downtown when both GM and Detroit were in trouble and the Renn Cen had high vacancy. It's ironic as that building was a Henry Ford II project around 1978 to revitalize downtown.

I've never been a big fan of the Pontiac dogleg. From what I understand, the reasons were two-fold. (1) to provide an endpoint on GTW after the station was shifted to New Center and away from MCS; (2) to tap into the viable and populous northern burbs.

That is a crummy reason. By that logic, why doesn't the Lincoln Service start at Naperville, go to CUS, down to STL, then out to Clayton? Why doesn't the Wolverine have a western terminus in Geneva or Aurora? Chicago, New York, LA, Washington, Boston et al... riders get on their corridor trains downtown.

We're told that Detroit has far less riders than Pontiac or Troy, but close those stations and make said riders come to Detroit or Ann Arbor and the math changes. Fun fact, it's far faster to drive to Ann Arbor then ride to Chicago than it is to ride Pontiac-Detroit-Chicago.
  by Ridgefielder
 
Tadman wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 11:22 am I've never been a big fan of the Pontiac dogleg. From what I understand, the reasons were two-fold. (1) to provide an endpoint on GTW after the station was shifted to New Center and away from MCS; (2) to tap into the viable and populous northern burbs.
I thought the Pontiac dogleg was an artifact of the old GTW commuter service which Amtrak took over after SEMTA shut down in the early 80's.
  by mtuandrew
 
Off topic for MCS, but am enterprising bus owner could run connecting service from Royal Oak to Ann Arbor direct to meet Amtrak. Sure would be nice to save an hour between those points as opposed to going through Detroit proper!

Back to MCS, Detroit may not be quite ready for commuter rail, but it could eventually support a six-leg system terminating at Michigan Central. It looks like there’s room for a coach yard both East and west of the station. (Termini at Mt. Clemens, Pontiac, Plymouth, Ann Arbor, Milan or Romulus?, and Monroe.) Call that six-leg system The Squid in honor of the ones tossed on the ice at Red Wings games :P
  by Bob Roberts
 
mtuandrew wrote: Tue Jan 28, 2020 12:44 pm Off topic for MCS, but am enterprising bus owner could run connecting service from Royal Oak to Ann Arbor direct to meet Amtrak. Sure would be nice to save an hour between those points as opposed to going through Detroit proper!

Back to MCS, Detroit may not be quite ready for commuter rail, but it could eventually support a six-leg system terminating at Michigan Central. It looks like there’s room for a coach yard both East and west of the station. (Termini at Mt. Clemens, Pontiac, Plymouth, Ann Arbor, Milan or Romulus?, and Monroe.) Call that six-leg system The Squid in honor of the ones tossed on the ice at Red Wings games :P
I am all for more commuter rail, but I gotta ask. What would riders do upon arrival at MCS? Outer Corktown always seemed a bit too far away from the CBD to be much of a commuter station. Ford aside, is seems like a Detroit commuter terminal needs to be much closer to Campus Martius to be of much benefit to daily riders [be kind, its been a while since I have been to the Motor City]
Last edited by Bob Roberts on Tue Jan 28, 2020 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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