HomeCar CultureCommentaryFord breathing new life into abandoned Detroit train station

Ford breathing new life into abandoned Detroit train station


Ford is planning to make a historic abandoned train station the centerpiece of its new campus in Corktown — the oldest part of Detroit — and has asked the community to weigh in on uses for the massive structure.

In a press release, the company said it recently invited 200 millennial leaders in the community to discuss the station’s future inside the facility.

“Ford Land Chairman and CEO Dave Dubensky, Ford Fund Multicultural Manager Shawn Wilson and other company representatives listened as participants reimagined the train depot, exchanged countless new ideas and presented innovative visions of what they would like to see as Ford renovations unfold, and Corktown is reborn with new jobs, businesses and community engagement activities,” the release read.

The station opened in 1913 — it was the tallest station in the world at the time — and remained in operation until 1988. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

Renovations began in 2011. Ford bought the facility earlier this year for an undisclosed price.

The automaker reportedly plans to spend $740 million to revamp not only the former train station, but the area around it. So far, it has acquired at least six addresses in the vicinity, including the station.

About 2,500 people were expected to work in the building once construction is completed in 2022.

Carter Nacke
Carter Nacke
Carter Nacke is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He began his career at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix, the largest news radio station in Arizona, where he specialized in breaking news and politics. A burgeoning interest in classic cars took him to the Journal in 2018. He's still on the hunt for his dad's old 1969 Camaro.


  1. This article is really super-simplifying what is here, what has happened with it and what it really once was. Suspect even the people involved don’t know.

    True, this huge and very grand structure was once a train station. But that’s not all it ever was or intended to be. It was also built with the intention of the upper floors being a very grand hotel. It was planned that way for the thousands who used to arrive here on the trains. There was a magnificent view up there.

    And this entire thing (despite what write-ups today say about it) was situated in a beautiful park.

    The rear of this building was both important and historic. It was the headquarters of Railway Express Agency (REA) which was essentially the UPS of its day. The depot at the rear of this building was huge and paved in red brick that contrasted so beautifully against the sparkling green REA trucks (they always carried colorful billboards on their sides). The union showdown that essentially ended the REA company took place right here. Heartbreaking to see what has become of what was once an architectural masterpiece… and landmark.

    • Leon Dixon thank you for a in depth history of this structure. You should really be on the historical committee with that type of knowledge. A blend of old and new is what will make this a grand structure once again. Gotta love Ford Motor Company for there commitment to revitalize this historical treasure and bring additional jobs into the area. God Bless America

    • While not from Detroit and not knowing the story of the building or ever having seen it, in 2017 when I saw the station for the first time I fell in love with it. Even in its present condition, it stands alone, majestically, on it’s barren plot of land as if to say “look at me, take care of me, I am an important part of this city’s history.” Today a year later, I have been to the site at least two more times and always drive by this part of history. So so glad that Ford has chosen this site as a research and development site for technological innovation. I am so looking to see the restored Grand Dame. Thank you Ford and Thank you for the article.

  2. Thank you Ford Motor Company for showing that the Corporation still has a strong sense of History. Special thanks to the Ford Family for making this restoration project happen. I wish you the best and encourage everyone to go out and buy a Ford product to help pay for the project!

  3. I really enjoyed the article. It would have been so much more interesting if you had included a LOT MORE pictures of the building; both inside and out, with a few shots of the area. An address would have been helpful, so we could look it up of Google Maps.

  4. What cannot be overlooked here is that Ford is doing their own small part to revitalize not only this building, but also the city of Detroit. Detroit is a city that is in desperate need of rebuilding, and it starts with one building at a time.


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