Panel Information: "The Finest on the Line"
This 1886 depot, built for the Michigan Central Railroad in grand Richardsonian Romanesque style, was the gateway to Ann Arbor at a time when trains were the major means of intercity travel. The central building had ornate waiting rooms, an elaborate ticket booth, coffered wood ceilings, stained glass windows, and a large terra-cotta fireplace. Packages were shipped from the express office on the west. Trunks and other luggagewere checked and retrieved at a baggage building on the east. A long track side roof sheltered passengers and connected the three buildings. East of the station, a garden with a fountain greeted visitors.
Enthusiastic crowds came to see presidents, prominent politicians, and visiting dignitaries, some of whom spoke from the rear platform of the train. A few, such as pianist Ignace Paderewski, arrived with private railway cars. Patriotic fanfare and emotional farewells sent troops off to war. UM football teams departed and returned to mobs of cheering fans.
In 1915 there were thirteen Detroit to Chicago passenger trains every day. A letter would be delivered in either Chicago or New York the next day if posted at the appropriate end of the platform. AnnArborites commuted to Detroit for work or occasionally went on a shopping spree to J. L. Hudson’s, Detroit’s largest department store.
In 1969 the station was sold and the main building converted to the Gandy Dancer restaurant. The former express office served as the depot until a new Amtrak station was built west of the bridge.