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Journal: Michigan Central Station

Michigan Central Station (April 2000): While Liz and I were in the Detroit area for a few days, we decided to take a closer look at the building that seems to have inspired more urban exploration websites than any other — the city's gigantic, long-abandoned train station.
       Michigan Central Station is situated in probably the bleakest part of Detroit, off a series of roads where the closed businesses outnumber the open businesses two to one, and where a fair number of the buildings are charred and partially collapsed. The odds of finding a public washroom or payphone in this area are slim, and parking a car on a main street in the middle of the afternoon seems like a dangerous proposition.
       Still, the station is ominous and beautiful enough to make the area a minor tourist mecca. Liz and I had very little trouble finding a way under the chain link fence that surrounds most of the station and making our way inside, and once there it was easy to understand why the station has enthralled so many past visitors. The corridors, stairwells and the immense entrance hall are all still quite spectacular; a thorough coating of graffiti acquired over the past several decades has changed the place's personality without diminishing its grandeur. Everything, everywhere seems to be made of high-quality marble, even though much of it is cracked or smashed. Since most of the windows have been broken, there are a hell of a lot of pigeons living in the station. There are a few dead ones, too. Some sick person had hung one of these dead pigeons by a noose in the entrance hall.
       After touring the main floor and looking at the basement a bit, Liz and I headed up. On the second floor, we spotted some sort of authority (either railroad security or a private security guard) peering intently at the building from nearby, so we quickly hid. We knew we'd have to cross his line of vision in order to continue our ascent, so we just waited for him to go away. Fifteen minutes later, however, we were bored, so we just sort of shrugged and figured he could try and come and get us if he wanted to. We kept going.
       After examining the less remarkable middle floors of the building (levels 3-19 or so), we came upon the elevator rooms and board rooms at the top of the building, and to the ladder to the roof. On the roof, we surveyed the incredible view of all of Detroit, and Windsor on the other side of the border, then we sunbathed and enjoyed our Cherry Cokes for a while before heading back down. (Liz has much better pictures of this trip at Viewing Hole Gallery.)

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