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Detroit, Michigan

The Dequindre Cut Greenway

Railway-turned-greenway provides a pedestrian link in downtown Detroit and celebrates urban artwork. 

An urban recreational path, the Dequindre Cut Greenway officially opened to the public in May of 2009. The 1.35-mile greenway provides a pedestrian link between Detroit’s Eastern Market, Riverfront, and other neighborhoods. It was developed through a partnership with public, private, and nonprofit entities and is in the process of being extended.

The below-street level path was, before being turned into a pedestrian greenway, a section of the Grand Trunk Railroad line. Now, a 20-foot-wide paved pathway runs the length of the greenway with separate lanes for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. A portion of the corridor has been reserved for future public transit.

The Dequindre Cut Greenway is known for its urban artwork and graffiti. “Unless its obscene or offensive, our policy is to leave it in place,” construction project manager Michael Dempsey said of the graffiti back in 2007. “We also want to encourage new works to the extent that the artists are willing to do that—as long as they pick up their aerosol cans after themselves!”

The rail line that the greenway is replacing was built back in the 1830s by the Detroit and Pontiac Railroad, a predecessor of Canadian National Railway subsidiary Grand Trunk Western Railroad. With more than 400 different industries operating on the east side of Detroit by the 1920s, the railroad was critical. As the century progressed, though, rail usage in and around Detroit declined. Passenger service through the Dequindre Cut was suspended in 1982 and freight service was discontinued just a few years later.