The Metro: Thousands converge on a ‘sparkling’ Michigan Central Station for grand reopening

Some of the biggest names in Detroit music performed in the highly anticipated show, from Diana Ross and The Clark Sisters to Jack White, Big Sean and Eminem.

Eminem performs at the Michigan Central grand reopening concert on Thursday, June 6, 2024.

Eminem performs at the Michigan Central grand reopening concert on Thursday, June 6, 2024.

More than 20,000 people gathered in Roosevelt Park on Thursday for a star-studded concert celebrating the grand reopening of Detroit’s emblematic Michigan Central Station.

The historic train station remained dormant for over 30 years until Ford Motor Co. purchased it in 2018. Over the past six years, Ford has invested nearly a billion dollars into its restoration with the stated goal of turning the facility into a hub for innovation in mobility and transportation, while also preserving its historical significance.

Chief Communications Officer for Ford Motor Company Mark Truby joined The Metro on Friday — the day after the Michigan Central grand reopening concert — to share more about the journey leading to the reopening and plans for the station’s future.

Subscribe to The Metro on Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.

“I was just talking to one of my colleagues, and it’s almost a weird feeling this morning to wake up and say, ‘Oh wow, that all happened last night’ and that six-year journey that we’ve been on, you know, kind of came to fruition,” Truby said.

Bill Ford Jr. would drive by Michigan Central Station, and it bothered him that the abandoned building became a symbol of Detroit’s struggles as a city, Truby says. 

“And we kind of knew that that wasn’t really the story of Detroit, but that’s the way it was being told,” Truby said. “And then, you know, his mind was racing about the future of mobility and technology, and how all that doesn’t need to be in Silicon Valley; or Austin, Texas; or Boston, it could be right here in Detroit. But we have to make a place for that to happen.” 

Read more: Michigan Central CEO talks opening of refurbished Michigan Central

The Michigan Central concert brought out many notable figures Thursday night, from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to Lions legend Barry Sanders. Some of the biggest names in Detroit music performed in the highly anticipated show, from Diana Ross and The Clark Sisters to Jack White, Big Sean and Eminem.

Detroit native and TV arbitrator Judge Greg Mathis also attended. He worked for Detroit’s mayor and city council during the years Michigan Central Station sat vacant. He remembers frequent complaints of the former train station being an eye-sore and a hotspot for illicit activity. 

“And now look at it. It’s the sparkling, most sparkling feature we have in Detroit now and the whole nation is going to say wow,” Mathis said.

Detroiter Drey Skonie attended the concert rocking shoes made in collaboration with Burn Rubber and Puma, that pays homage to Michigan Central Station.

“To really be from Detroit, you know where it’s been and to see where it’s at now, to see the progression it kind of makes you proud. It’s like you’re having a city pride in the sense you know, being here, seeing the train station rebuilt,” Skonie said. “So, you know, everybody’s here for Detroit. We love Detroit and this is one of them days it’s good to be outside.”

Once a bustling hub for train travel, Michigan Central Station first opened its doors in 1913. A marvel of architecture, at its peak in the 1940s, it served over 4,000 passengers a day.

Trains returning to Michigan Central are “not out of the realm of possibility,” Truby says. However, it will take a lot of cooperation from public and private sectors along with rail companies to make it happen.

“I think a lot of things will have to happen. That’s probably you’re thinking – two, three, four years down the road,” Truby said. “But there are a lot of people interested in bringing rail, passenger rail traffic back into the station. We would love that. I think that would just be amazing.”

Use the media player above to hear the full interview with Truby.

More headlines from The Metro on June 7, 2024:

  • June is Pride month and on The Metro we’re bringing you conversations that spotlight and uplift our queer brothers, sisters and non-binary individuals. Affirmations in Ferndale offers a variety of services geared towards LGBTQ+ individuals. Affirmations Executive Director Cheryl Czach joined the show to share more about the nonprofit.
  • Arati Prabhakar, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, joined the show to discuss artificial intelligence concerns as technology advances. She spoke Thursday night about AI at Michigan Central’s grand opening event.
  • The Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan are working on an initiative to give kids the ability to test drive career paths. This year, students were taught coding and programming skills that will prepare them for a future in the mobility industry.

Listen to The Metro weekdays from 11 a.m. to noon ET on 101.9 FM and streaming on-demand.

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.

WDET strives to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. If you value WDET as your source of news, music and conversation, please make a gift today.

Donate today »