Over 180 Years: The Gateway to Downtown
Railroad Service in Ann Arbor
For more than 180 years, Ann Arbor’s railroad stations on the east-west line have all been centrally located in the area along Depot Street, near the Broadway Bridge. Railroad service arrived in Ann Arbor in 1839. The first station was erected in 1845, later to be replaced by the iconic Richardsonian Romanesque station in 1886, presently the Gandy Dancer restaurant. The current Ann Arbor Amtrak Station at 325 Depot Street was built in 1983, at a time when Amtrak used standardized station designs.
MLive’s December 31, 2016 article on an 1860 artistic panorama view of Ann Arbor showed a close up of the Depot Street area (slide 2 of the article), prior to construction of the stone Michigan Central Railroad depot. The access to streets and commerce of the horse and buggy era demonstrate transit-oriented-development (TOD), the aggregation of business and activity near a transportation node that continues with Ann Arbor’s station-related activity in the age of autos, buses and self-driving cars. We contend that TOD works best in the original Depot Street area, where private property exists that holds potential for the kind of activity that supported the original placement for Ann Arbor’s train station.
On April 7, 2016, a new ADA accessible platform was installed, demonstrating the flexibility of the Depot Street location to support the universal mobility requirements of the 21st Century.
Updated 10/14/21, reference for ADA platform installation.
Photo credit: Michigan Central Railroad, Ann Arbor, MI, c 1905-1915,
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection, [reproduction number, LC-D4-39657]