Retrospective: How Ann Arbor lost its historic train depot and why some want it back

February 15, 2015

From the late 1800s through much of the 1900s, the Ann Arbor community had a grand passenger train station on Depot Street… Designed by Detroit architect Frederick Spier, the station was hailed as the finest on the line between Buffalo and Chicago when it opened in 1887… A historic marker that stands near the site today describes the depot’s colorful past…

But in 1969, after highways and airports had siphoned off the lion’s share of passenger traffic, the depot was sold, and the central building was converted into a seafood restaurant called the Gandy Dancer in 1970…

“In 1969, about two years before the start of Amtrak, the C.A. Muer Corp. approached the Penn Central Railroad, then in or on the verge of bankruptcy, about purchasing their Ann Arbor station to convert it into a restaurant,” [former chairman of the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers, Clark] Charnetski recalls…

[Today’s] modest station, standing opposite the old depot on the other side of the Broadway Bridge, is now the busiest Amtrak station in Michigan, clocking 147,093 arrivals and departures in 2014, up 31 percent from a decade earlier… At the request of the federal government, Ann Arbor officials are exploring the possibility of returning the historic depot to its former glory, while also considering [two other] site[s]…

Read the rest of the story on MLive, 15 February 2015

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