Detroit’s sound of urban revival

Last month, Detroit marked the reopening of a long-abandoned but iconic building, Michigan Central Station. It did so with a concert that featured famous artists of the Motor City: Diana Ross, Eminem, Big Sean, Jack White, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The event served as a reminder that the city, once known for its creative contributions to American culture, is becoming set to do something great again.

For decades before it closed as a train depot in 1988, Michigan Central was the hub for nearly 4,000 passengers a day shuttling in and out of Detroit. Built in the beaux arts style of architecture, the 18-story structure was and still is visible for miles. After its closure, a cloud of decrepitness took over with broken windows, withered columns, and prominent graffiti. The site once hosted drug dens and other illicit activity. It was a symbol of the city’s decline and bankruptcy in 2013.

Ford Motor Co. bought the building in 2018 after the city considered demolishing it. Six years later, new limestone shines brightly out front. Inside, the Grand Hall is just that: grand. This is transformation on a level that matches the vibe and energy that Detroit is experiencing. The 30-acre site is being used to attract a mix of businesses focused on new technologies. Public parks and outdoor plazas now surround the building. The area’s revival is an opportunity for Detroit’s oldest existing neighborhood, Corktown, to thrive.

In 2023, Detroit saw its first population increase in 66 years. Big-money investments are luring companies and condo buyers into downtown. This isn’t to say the city is perfect. The poverty rate is still above 30%. Unemployment is over 7%. Yet with innovation and more job creation, those numbers can fall.

There is hope for a city that is creating the future by looking to the best of its past. That is why 20,000 people came out to hear their hometown heroes perform on June 6. The lesson: What is broken can be fixed, with abundant blessings.

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