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JUN 12, 2024 | Austin Atwood

FRIENDS OF FORD GIVES ENTHUSIASTS AN INSIDE TRACK TO WITNESS REOPENING OF MICHIGAN CENTRAL STATION

Michigan Central Station

DETROIT, Mich. - The historic Michigan Central Station, a long-abandoned landmark in the city of Detroit, has been restored, revitalized and reopened thanks to the visionary efforts of the Ford Motor Company to help create a home for a hub of mobility innovation for the future. As a lifelong Ford enthusiast, the chance to witness this grand reopening and participate in the associated festivities thanks to the Friends of Ford social media program was an unforgettable experience -- blending history, future-tech and community spirit.

Ford’s commitment to preserving Detroit's rich history while pushing the boundaries of automotive innovation is evident in its 6-year, $950-milion renovation of Michigan Central Station. This iconic 18-story structure was built in 1913 as the tallest railway station in the world, but after its closure in 1988 it sat vacant for decades. Its deterioration became a symbol of Detroit’s economic decline. But restored to its former glory, it now serves as a testament to the city's resilience and Ford's dedication to leading the way in automotive advancements.

One of the highlights of my experience that was provided by Friends of Ford was driving the Ford F-100 Eluminator, a unique vehicle that combines the classic F-100 chassis with a cutting-edge Ford Performance Crate Electric Motor. This fusion of classic design and modern technology perfectly symbolizes the spirit of the Michigan Central Station renovation. The smooth, silent power of the electric motor paired with the nostalgic charm of the F-100 made for an exhilarating drive.

F100 Lightning on the road

F100 Lightning on the road

Exploring historic downtown Detroit in a Model T parade was another memorable moment. Riding in these beautifully restored cars, some dating as far back as 1911, offered a connection to Detroit's storied past. The parade was a vibrant, living history lesson, with each Model T telling its own story of innovation and endurance. This journey through time was a perfect prelude to the grand reopening of the train station.

MotelT cars on the road

The grand reopening event itself was a spectacular celebration of Detroit's cultural and musical heritage. Held in front of the newly renovated Michigan Central train station, the concert featured an electric lineup of artists, including Detroit natives Diana Ross, Eminem, Jack White, and Big Sean. The mix of genres, from Jelly Roll's country rap to Fantasia's soulful R&B, along with the prestigious Detroit Symphony Orchestra, created a truly unforgettable evening. The surprise appearance by Eminem, performing some of his biggest hits, added an extra layer of excitement and hometown pride to the event.

Diana Ross singing on stage

Big Sean singing on stage

Jelly Roll singing on stage

Before the concert, we heard from key figures in the Ford Motor Company, including Bill Ford, Jim Farley and James Hackett. Their speeches highlighted the significance of the Michigan Central Train Station project, emphasizing Ford's vision for the future and their commitment to the community. Their words resonated deeply, underscoring the blend of innovation and tradition that defines both the train station and the city of Detroit.

Jim Farley speaking to crowd on stage

The renovated Michigan Central Station is not just a beautiful architectural marvel; it represents a new era for Detroit. It stands as a beacon of hope and progress, demonstrating how honoring the past can pave the way for a brighter future. The station will serve as a hub for innovation, housing Ford's new mobility and electrification teams, further cementing Detroit's place as a leader in the automotive industry. A special thank you to Friends of Ford for having me in attendance. Are you a Ford aficionado looking to become a Friend with Ford? Learn about the Friends of Ford program here. In the meantime, enjoy some photos captured at the event by Ford Enthusiast Stewart Webb:

people walking in street

group photo

crowd of people

modelT cars in front of train stationman with a orange and red Ford jacket

PHOTOS COURTSEY OF FORD ENTHUSIAST STEWART WEBB