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

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  • 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.


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