Take a Virtual Peek Inside the New Michigan Central Station

It captures the splendor while providing fascinating insight into the restoration process.
The interior ticket booth. // Photograph by Stephen McGee

Feeling antsy to see Michigan Central Station’s interior facelift before the open house June 7-16? You can — from the comfort of your own home — with this virtual tour, which includes 3D photography of the former train station’s updated Grand Hall, waiting room/restaurant, and concourse. While Hour Detroit is ready to marvel at the structure in-person, this virtual tour does justice in capturing the splendor, and provides fascinating insight into the restoration process.

Here are five details we enjoyed learning about while touring the station virtually:

Divots in the Marble Floor

The main hall’s restored marbled floor, originally from 1913, still has divots, created by a collective 75 years’ worth of passengers waiting for trains to arrive. The restoration team intentionally left the divots as “a way to preserve part of The Station’s past life and the footsteps of the many Detroiters who walked these floors before us.”

The Graffiti Hall

Graffiti is certainly part of the story at Michigan Central Station, which closed in 1988 — the walls were spray-painted over many times while it was abandoned. As part of the restoration, some of the original graffiti was examined by “international experts” and saved. You can take a look at it here and here.

The Recreated Ram’s Heads

The Reading Room in Michigan Central Station’s restaurant/waiting room area features ram’s head trims. The originals were all missing by the time Ford Motor Co. purchased the building in 2008. The restoration team identified them through photographs, and tracked down a private collector who lent them a missing piece. From there, they 3D-printed a prototype to cast new ones in plaster.

The Plaster Medallions

The coffer medallions, 55 feet from the floor in the Grand Hall by the main entrance are plaster too — the restoration team recreated the missing ones this way in order to be faithful to the original design. They were originally painted to resemble stone — plaster was used as a lighter, cheaper alternative to the material.

 The Massive Chandeliers

By 2008, the original cast iron chandeliers in Michigan Central Station were all missing. The restoration team created new ones from the original construction drawings, combined with historical photos. Each weigh 2,700, and are equipped with modern, energy-efficient lighting (unlike the originals).

After the June 7-16 open house; the first floor will remain open for self-guided tours  from June 21 through the end of Aug. 31 Fridays 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit michigancentral.com/open