Ann Arbor, Michigan
325 Depot Street Ann Arbor, MI 48104
- Annual Station Revenue (2013)
- Annual Station Ridership (2013)
|Parking Lot Ownership||Amtrak|
|Platform Ownership||Norfolk Southern Railway|
|Track Ownership||Norfolk Southern Railway|
|50 Short Term Parking Spaces||70 Long Term Parking Spaces||Accessible Platform|
|Accessible Restrooms||Accessible Ticket Office||Accessible Waiting Room|
|Accessible Water Fountain||Dedicated Parking||Enclosed Waiting Area|
|Help With Luggage||Quik Trak Kiosk||Restrooms|
|Ticket Office||Wheelchair||Wheelchair Lift|
- Wolverine Service
Local Community Links:
Amtrak riders using the Ann Arbor station make it one of the busiest stops in Michigan. The depot was built by Amtrak and opened in 1983 in the northern area of the city close to the Huron River. Typical of its time, the one story building is composed of variegated brown brick with a prominent cantilevered roof of black metal; the deep eaves provide protection from the snow-filled Michigan winters. The waiting room is lighted by sun which streams through large floor-to-ceiling windows. A small band of clerestory windows wraps around the upper portion of the waiting room wall where it meets the roof; this has the visual effect of making the roof float above the structure, lightening the whole composition. Trackside, a long canopy shelters travelers as they arrive and depart.
The popularity of the Amtrak service—and the fact the larger station parking lot is across the Broadway Street Bridge on the opposite side of the tracks—has led to a spirited discussion in the Ann Arbor area over the location of a larger replacement, an intermodal station.
Slightly to the southeast past the current Amtrak station sits the former Michigan Central Depot, which served Ann Arbor from 1887 until the mid-20th century. The Michigan Central Railroad had its origins in the Detroit and St. Joseph Railway, one of the first established in Michigan. Chartered in 1832, the Detroit and St. Joseph reached Ann Arbor from Detroit in October 1839, linking the small settlement with the area’s major city. A banquet on Court House Square marked the triumphant occasion. Michigan Central took over the line in 1846, paying $2 million for the right-of-way stretching from Detroit to Kalamazoo. Twenty years later, Michigan Central was subsumed into Cornelius Vanderbilt’s powerful New York Central Railroad.
Designed by Spier and Rohns architects of Detroit, the Michigan Central Depot reflected the sensibilities and experiences of a firm with an extensive background in station design. The partners were known for their deft manipulation of the architectural language now known as Richardsonian Romanesque—squat, compact buildings usually constructed with unfinished stone in dark red, tan, brown, and gray hues. The asymmetrical compositions were often pierced by deep-set, round arches reminiscent of Medieval Romanesque structures found in Europe; polychrome decoration was a common feature. Spier and Rohns also designed the Michigan Central Depots used by Amtrak in Niles and Dowagiac (if I recall).
Ann Arbor’s $33,000 depot featured a central gabled tower punctured by a large, oversized circular opening that marked the entrance and provided shelter. A corner gabled tower echoed the entrance pavilion, incorporating a large window in the form of a two-thirds circle. Both towers were trimmed in Lake Superior red stone, Ohio blue stone, and Ionia stone. The roofline varied across the façade and window openings were both rectangular and arched. The solidity of the structure was expressed in its two-foot thick, variegated granite block walls; the stone was quarried nearby. The interior was finished in red oak trim and featured colorful stained glass windows. Separate waiting rooms for men and women, a standard feature in the late Victorian era, were heated by terracotta fireplaces. Over the years, numerous Presidents made whistle-stops at Michigan Central Depot, including Teddy Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. In 1969, the building became a restaurant, and continues in this popular function today. In 1975, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places and it serves as a restaurant and tavern with a railroad theme.
The city was also served by the Ann Arbor Railroad which entered the city in 1878; business persons hoped that a competing line would result in lower shipping fees. Whereas the Michigan Central traveled east-west, the Ann Arbor ran north-south, eventually connecting the town to Toledo, Ohio. In 1889, the railroad commenced construction of a terminal on the western end of town for $4,400. It was a simple wood frame depot with a hipped roof and deep eaves supported by gentle curved brackets. Not as glamorous as the Michigan Central building, the depot saw much activity as the Ann Arbor connected the town to various resorts as far north as Traverse City. Both stations were especially busy during holidays and at the end of the University of Michigan’s terms when students headed home. The Ann Arbor Railroad Depot still stands but no longer accepts passengers or freight.
Founded in 1824, Ann Arbor is presumed to have been named after a few things: the wives of the founders, whose full names both included “Ann,” and for the groves or “arbors” of burr oak trees found in the area. In 1837, the University of Michigan moved from Detroit to a site that had been offered for the state capitol, a bid which the town lost. Recognized as one of the finest institutions of higher learning in the United States, the university is particularly known for its medical center, law school, and numerous research programs in the medical sciences, technology, and engineering. Researchers nationwide know Ann Arbor as the location of JSTOR, a digital scholarly journal archive. Avid readers might be more familiar with Borders Books, founded in the city in 1969; it has been noted that Ann Arbor ranks first among US cities in books sold per capita. The university, local organizations, and municipal government foster numerous art, film, and literature festivals, ensuring a lively learning atmosphere treasured by residents and visitors.
Amtrak provides ticketing and assistance with baggage at Ann Arbor, which is served by six daily trains.