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Open Diff: Detroit’s most influential roads?

Published in blog.hemmings.com

Jessica Hartwig’s typographic map of Detroit, via Detroitography.

The inclusion of Woodward Avenue on PBS’ 10 Streets That Changed America was certainly warranted, given its role in the motorization of Detroit. But as many folks pointed out in the comments, making a list like this always means you have to leave something out, and there are indeed plenty of other noteworthy streets across the country worth reviewing.

However, Leon Dixon raised a good point: Detroit has plenty of other iconic streets in addition to Woodward. He specifically mentions Grand Boulevard.

I still say that the Rodney Dangerfield of streets that affected both the auto industry and America was Detroit’s Grand Boulevard. It gets no respect whatsoever either in modern revisionist histories of Detroit… or in automotive history. If ANY street ought to be recognized for its importance it would be Grand Boulevard in Detroit.

Why? For instance, what was headquartered on Grand Boulevard? Try… General Motors. Try… Packard Motor Car Company. And driving across town on Grand Blvd. back in the day, you also had to pass the giant Fisher Body horse coach sign and plant. And hundreds of automotive-related companies lined Grand Blvd. or were adjacent to it. Anyone know of Jam Handy Organization? Fenestra Window Company? And on and on.

Because much of automotive history took place in Detroit, it’s entirely possible many automotive historians know the Motor City’s street names better than their own. So it we were to come up with a list of the 10 most influential streets in Detroit, what streets would we include?