The old Michigan Central Station in Detroit.
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Perhaps Ford is not the eerily portrayed, utilitarian, god-like character of the dystopian realm in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
The Ford Motor Company has made three recent decisions to launch not only the company, but also the city of Detroit, into the future.
First, Ford decided to phase out production of most cars and SUVs by 2020. It will only continue to produce its trucks — an initially shocking and frightening move.
Second, Ford relocated 220 workers from its Dearborn plant to Corktown, a neighborhood west of downtown Detroit, in December. Notably, these workers develop electric and self-driving cars.
Third, and most significantly, Ford purchased the 18-story, 105-year-old former Michigan Central Station with a vision.
Not just a vision to save the dry, lifeless bones of what used to be a grand train station.
Not just a vision to demolish the building and use the land to create a new factory.
But a vision to breathe a new life into the building, and Detroit. A vision to transform Corktown into a technologically-advanced city, complete with electric and self-driving cars. And making Michigan Central Station the blood-pumping heart of Ford will be an important step toward restoring Detroit — perhaps making it into its own, midwestern Silicon Valley.
Thanks to Ford, the building will now represent the resurrection of a city that has been lying dead for far too long.
The decaying station had become the visual representation of Detroit’s psyche: dusty, deteriorated, damaged. Filled with dust and graffiti, it symbolizes the state of Detroit’s despair and disrepair over the past few decades.
Nobody, from the workers who locked the doors on its final day as a functioning train station in 1988 to the members of city government who ordered the Moroun family to demolish the building in 2009, could have imagined something so long dead to be brought back to life.
By resurrecting this building, Ford is resurrecting the soul and spirit of Detroit — what made it great in the past — and promising a great future. Ford is giving Detroit hope.
That is the power of American businesses. That is the power of true American ingenuity.
It will take years of construction and renovation to create this futuristic village. But one day, Ford’s blue oval will adorn the building, and inside, people will be bustling about and creating not only Detroit’s, but America’s, future.
Just like they did years ago.
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