The above photo shows the former DSR Capitol Park bus station, which was built in 1955. Taken from the north
end, this photo shows the loading lanes for the Fenkell and Linwood buses on the left, and the Grand River
electric "trackless" trolley-coaches on the right.
 (Photo source: D.S.R. Reporter, January 1956 edition)
Unless otherwise noted, all photos displayed within this article are courtesy of the January 1956 edition of the D.S.R. Reporter, via the
Stan Sycko Transit Collection.
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Although today it may only look like a small triangular-shaped downtown city park, the area once used by the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) for its main downtown transit hub, was at one time the location of a bustling downtown bus shelter terminal and waiting station that served more than 25,000 daily riders.

The above photo shows a view of Capitol Park before
its transformation. Visible are the park's fountain and
(located in the center of the park), and the large
loading platforms along two sides of the park.   
This photo also shows a view of Capitol Park before
construction. Previously, the Grand River electric
trolley-buses entered Capitol Park along the Griswold
Street side loading platforms.
(Photo source: Mass Transportation magazine, Dec 1952 edition)
Construction began on the project in May of 1955. The bus shelter took six months to construct, with the total cost of the project reported at $280,000 (the DSR share was $60,000). The Department's of Public Works (DPW) and Parks and Recreation assisted in the construction. The statue and tomb of former Governor Mason were moved to the south end of the park along State Street.
[RECONSTRUCTION UPDATE: On October 27, 2010, after 55 years, Governor Stevens T. Mason's tomb was returned to the north end of Capitol Park]

According to the January 1956 edition of The DSR Reporter (an employee newspaper), the shelter was constructed of "...concrete reinforced with steel. The overhead canopy, which took 400 yards of concrete, was poured in one day." Plastic sky domes were used to admit daylight underneath the canopy during the day, while "cold-cathode" (fluorescent) lights would give off a glow affect at night. The only area of the shelter completely enclosed were the ticket office, located on the north end, and the lavatories, which were located in the basement.

The DSR estimated that over 700 buses and trolley-coaches picked-up over 23,000 passengers from the Capitol Park Station every weekday. With high frequency lines, such as Grand River, operating through the station with one-minute headways, the DSR implemented a "prepay" fare collection system to help speed up the loading operation. During rush hours, riders would pay their fares at manned turnstile booths. With the fare already paid, the passengers would then go directly on board the buses through both doors, which also helped to speed up service.


(top left photo) Former Detroit Mayor Albert E. Cobo was one of
the first to whirl through the turnstile during the bus shelter's
opening day ceremonies back in the fall of 1955.

(top right photo) The southeast corner of the shelter is visible in
this photo. In 1955, the loading lane along the Griswold street
side was reserved exclusively for Fenkell and Linwood buses.

(left photo) The southwest corner of the shelter is visible in this
photo. The loading lane for the Grand River trackless trolley-
coaches was located on the Shelby street side. The canopy's
plastic sky domes are also visible in this photo.
(Photo 3; DSR files—source: Motor Coach Age, May-June 1993)
This photo shows the Capitol Park Terminal on Friday, November 16, 1962—the last day of electric trolley-coach
operation on the Grand River line.  A General Motors "new-look" diesel coach—the impending replacement for
these electric powered buses—can be seen following behind one of the last trolley-coaches to operate in Detroit.
(Scalzo Collection Photo, courtesy of Tom's Trolley Coach Pictures at www.trolleybuses.net)  
This early 1960s photo looks north toward the Capitol Park Bus Station from State Street.  By the time this photo
was taken electric bus operation on the Grand River line had been discontinued, and replaced by GM diesel buses.
The statue and tomb of former Michigan Governor Stevens T. Mason can be seen along the south end of the park.
(Photo source: General Motors Truck & Coach promotional brochure)
The using of Capitol Park as a transit hub dates back to the pre-DUR years, when the Fourteenth and Oakland, and the Fourteenth and Hastings Belt Lines (all Detroit Railway Co. routes) began looping at Capitol Park on October 24, 1895. During the DUR years, the park served as a through-stop for the Jefferson-Grand River and Myrtle streetcar routes, and as a layover stop for the Fourteenth Street car line. Under the DSR, the park became the downtown layover stop for both the Fourteenth and Grand River car lines after the Grand River and Jefferson routes were split in 1927. By the early 1950s, the Grand River electric trolley-buses, along with the Fenkell and Linwood bus lines all laid-over at Capitol Park.

The park's history goes back to when the original state capitol building resided on the site. After the building (then used as a high school) was destroyed by fire in 1893, the triangular–shaped block where the capitol once stood was converted into a park and named, "Capitol Park." The downtown park was lined with rows of park benches, and even had its own water fountain and pool. To accommodate the large rush hour crowds that would gather to board the streetcars, large loading platforms were eventually built along Shelby and Griswold streets.

In early 1953, the DSR released a proposal plan to remodel the park by building a new reinforced concrete bus station, which would offer protection from the wind, rain, and snow for the thousands of DSR passengers who used the location daily. The proposed station would also provide the DSR with a much larger loading area to handle the large volume of crowds.

However, considerable opposition resulted after DSR plans revealed that the proposed shelter would require moving the statue and tomb of Michigan's first governor, Stevens T. Mason, located at the north end of the park. Suggestions to instead enlarge the existing loading zones along the edge of the park were rejected, based on the grounds that it would further reduce the width of the surrounding narrow streets. In addition, the loading zones were considered unsafe, as they placed passengers between the flow of both automobile and bus traffic.

Originally, the Grand River trackless trolley-coaches, along with the Fenkell and Linwood bus lines utilized the newly built Capitol Park Bus Terminal. Later, under DDOT, the #21 Grand River, #29 Linwood and #49 E. Vernor bus lines were assigned to the station, which served as their downtown terminus and layover stop. These three routes would service the bus station through the shelter's remaining years of operation.

But after less than 25 years of operation, city officials decided that the Capitol Park bus station had out-lived its usefulness. By late 1979, the bus shelter had been demolished and the park redesigned into a more open city-park like setting, similar to its appearance during the years prior to the arrival of the bus station. However, the park would still be used as a layover stop for a number of DDOT routes, including the #25 Jefferson and #38 Plymouth lines.

Beginning Dec. 22, 2001, the Capitol Park area would become the city's new major transit hub after the former DDOT Cadillac Square Transit Center was closed to make way for the city's new Campus Martius Park Project. Initial plans called for the Capitol Park Transit Center to become the "temporary" downtown transit hub, while DDOT awaited the construction of its new transit center located near Michigan Avenue and Cass in Times Square, which was scheduled to be completed sometime in 2005.

END OF AN ERA: On Tuesday, July 14, 2009, the City of Detroit opened its new DDOT Rosa Parks Transit Center, resulting in all downtown transit bus operations moving to the new location. Consequently, nearly 114 years of transit operations originating from Capitol Park had now come to an end.

The unique website which takes a detailed look back at the History of Public Transportation in
and around the City of Detroit.
(Reformatted 01-18-14)