Friday, August 26, 2011

Michigan Central Station (a.k.a. Detroit Historic Train Station)

On Wednesday I ventured to Corktown, on the west side of Detroit, to have a look at the Michigan Central Station. I parked my bike and sat down in the park across the street. The hulking mass of brick and stone greeted me with a looming shadow. A barbed-wire fence braceleted the bottom of the station, and a few backhoes and cranes sat nearby like toys. Almost every window in the eighteen-story goliath is broken (apparently a popular hobby is to shoot golf balls at the few remaining intact windows). The last train departed in 1987, and the depot has been vacant ever since.

Slack-jawed, I gaped at the colossus and began to draw. Robust swirls of wind snatched at my sketchpad and I braced it with my arm, swearing at the relentless gale. After several blustery hours spent intently peering at the station -measuring its various angles and counting its many (so many) windows- I felt slightly cross-eyed. And I had to pee. Badly. The park had no restrooms. I cursed the people milling about nearby: if not for them I could semi-discreetly relieve myself without an audience. I squeezed my legs together and continued drawing. Half-an-hour later a Salvation Army 'bed and bread' truck pulled up at the edge of the park. The people who were milling about swarmed the truck. One guy walked past me on his way, and looked over his shoulder to shout, "Hurry up man, or you'll fuckin' miss the truck!" Apparently I blended in.

Twenty minutes later the Salvation Army truck pulled away and the park emptied. Finally I could pee! I dropped my sketchpad and ran the thirty yards to the only bush. At least one other person had used the bush for a similar purpose: a brown coil (too large to have been pushed out of a dog) lay on the ground gathering flies. "Hmm," I thought, "maybe this is one of those times that I should be wearing shoes..."

Below (from top to bottom):

Drawing of Michigan Central Station (9"x12")

Same drawing, partially finished

Michigan Central Station


  1. oo oo i do love me an old train station!

    you shoulda bought a freshette...

  2. I did have something very similar to a freshette...but I still don't feel comfortable whipping it out when I'm in a park surrounded by people. (what I brought is called a 'p-style' and one of my favorite accessories I have with me...don't know what I'd do without it!)