Check out this map of Detroit's electric rail system in 1915



In 2015, we're all very excited about our 3.3-mile streetcar line, since electric rail is largely regarded as one of the biggest boosts you can give to urban development these days. Crews have been hard at work for almost two years now. They now say they'll be ready for passengers in 2017. 

But did you know that, in 1915, the Detroit United Railways operated one of the largest regional electric rail systems in the world right here? It had more than 800 miles of track, more than 200 of them in the city limits of Detroit, where one fare would get you across town, and 600 miles in the high-speed interurban lines.The enterprise was valued at almost $50 million. In today's money, that's more than $1.1 billion.

Of course, after dismantling all our electric track more than 50 years ago, we have to build it all up again. And judging by the fact that it's taken M-1 rail about one year to build each mile of track, we'll be all caught up with 100 years ago by ... 2855.


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