News & Views » Local News

Detroit's top 10 urban planning blunders (and 10 successes)



Page 6 of 21

  • Courtesy Walter Reuther Library, Wayne State University

Blunder: Dismantling of interurban streetcar system
A century ago, the privately-owned Detroit United Railway was not just a convenient way to get around the city. Interurban branch lines also carried riders as far away as Port Huron, Grand Rapids, and Toledo. The city purchased the lines within its borders in 1922, and the publicly owned system saw ridership peak in 1929. The decades following the Great Depression saw increasing disinvestment in the city's worn out streetcar infrastructure while subsidies for automobile infrastructure boomed. After years of replacing some streetcars with buses and discontinuing others completely, the city in 1955 sold its fleet of 183 streetcars in to Mexico City for $699,000, a fraction of their book value.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.