Map of Detroit Interurban Lines 1915

detroit_interurban_1280

This map comes from the 1915 “Report on Detroit Street Railway Traffic and Proposed Subway.”

On East-West Lines:

“These lines carried 130,553,415 passengers (including transfers) in 1914. Here again it must be noted that all of this traffic was not carried across the center of the city, but the figures give the relative importance of this group of lines.”

On Interurban Lines:

“These lines provide a valuable function in connecting the city with a very widely distributed interurban district, and also run a through service to cities of considerable size.

SourceReport on Detroit Street Railway Traffic and Proposed Subway

2 thoughts on “Map of Detroit Interurban Lines 1915

  1. This history is hard-to-believe, but true.
    The idea behind the long-dead, century-old Woodward Avenue Subway proposal was to eliminate “traffic congestion” downtown, by moving the Woodward trolley tracks below street level, while keeping crosstown trolley routes at grade.
    The “traffic congestion” had nothing to do with automobiles. Downtown streets were often gridlocked with streetcars and interurban trolleys, at that time.
    Given the political climate — a continuing thirty-year “war”, between the privately-held Detroit United Railway (DUR) traction monopoly, the City of Detroit, local newspapers, and an aroused citizenry — the subway proposal was eventually defeated. It lost by one vote, during a meeting of Detroit’s Common Council (today’s City Council).
    This map doesn’t include two DUR interurban lines:
    The Rochester / Romeo / Almont line was extended north to Imlay City, later in 1915.
    Highland Park & Royal Oak Railroad (aka “The Stephenson Line”) opened in 1919.
    Detroit’s city-owned municipal streetcars began running in 1921.
    In 1922, the “war” ended, when DUR sold its streetcar lines (within the city limits) to the City of Detroit, for c. $20 million.
    DUR went bankrupt in March 1925, the same month its new Gary Transfer Terminal opened on Gratiot Avenue (near French Road). The remains of this ninety-year-old, fire-gutted former interurban / bus station are currently still standing, barely.
    “Shore Line” interurban service, running between Grosse Pointe Park and Mt. Clemens (via Grosse Pointe Boulevard, Lake Shore Drive, St. Clair Shores, and Crocker Boulevard) ended in 1927. A historic plaque, commemorating the Detroit, Lake Shore & Mt. Clemens Railway, was erected at former-speakeasy Blossom Heath Inn (where Swing Shift Orchestra will be performing Wednesday, June 22nd).
    The remains of DUR emerged from bankruptcy as Eastern Michigan Railways (EMR) in 1928. That same year, Rapid Railway service between Leesville (Gratiot & Harper) and Port Huron ended. Detroit’s Department of Street Railways (DSR) continued running Detroit / Mt. Clemens streetcars along Gratiot Avenue for several years after.
    EMR discontinued Pontiac Division and Flint Division interurban service (north of Eight Mile Road) in 1931. DSR continued running streetcars, between downtown Royal Oak and the Fairgrounds Loop on Woodward, until 1948, using former interurban track.
    EMR walked away from its 56-mile, 28-year-old, mostly private-right-of-way Eastern Michigan – Toledo Railroad October 4, 1932. DSR continued running its West Fort Street streetcars along Electric Street, as far south as the city limits, until 1949. Cincinnati & Lake Erie Railroad re-located the northern terminus of its four-motor, 400-horsepower “Red Devil” streamlined trolleys from downtown Detroit to Toledo. Three daily, 80-mph trains had connected Detroit and Cincinnati, for little more than two years.
    In the spring of 1934, EMR (then in liquidation) walked away from its fifteen-year-old Stephenson Line — the last operating electric interurban line in southeastern Michigan. East of downtown Royal Oak, the former right-of-way along Fourth Street became a tree-lined boulevard. South of Fourth, most of the line eventually became the route of today’s I-75 Freeway.

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