America’s First Urban Freeway: Detroit’s Davison Freeway

The Davison Urban Freeway by Wayne State University

The Davison Urban Freeway by Wayne State University

The Daily Detroit is one of my favorite Michigan podcasts, and their story on The Davison, America’s First Urban Freeway in Detroit is pretty cool: 

While freeways are pretty standard in American cities now, it wasn’t always that way. Instead of the ability to potentially go up to 70 miles an hour like on today’s highways, motorists had to use regular city streets to cross town. That was especially the case for motorists who wanted to cross Highland Park and enter Detroit.

Everyone piled onto Davison Avenue, the only large street that ran through Highland Park and connected to Detroit running roughly east to west. The avenue and freeway was named after an English immigrant from the 1840s that settled in the area, Jared Davison (it was then Hamtramck Township). His farm was approximately between Woodward and Oakland avenues along the south side of the street.

It wasn’t uncommon for drivers to spend 15 minutes sitting in traffic to reach Detroit. By 1940, thanks to Detroit’s growth and the growth of auto factories, Davison Avenue was approaching gridlock during rush hour by 1940.

…By November 1942, the five and a half mile long Davison Freeway was finished. It opened without a dedication ceremony, probably due to the desperate need the defense plants had for a functioning freeway. Despite its lack of dedication, the freeway became the first one of its kind – an urban freeway meant to connect one part of a metro area with another with as little interruption as possible.

…Ironically, the invention from Highland Park eventually played a key role in emptying the city out. In 1992, Chrysler moved their headquarters down the road – off of I-75 with a special off-ramp built for the development – to Auburn Hills, to follow the trend of suburban sprawl that the American highway system helped enable.

Read more at the Daily Detroit!

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Get on the (green) bus, Gus

MTA Flint Hydrogen Bus

Hydrogen Bus at the Capitol by MTA Flint

Kyle Davidson of the Great Lakes Echo has an excellent feature looking at a new, $30 million program to help Michigan’s public companies and private businesses buy low emission freight trucks, buses, tugboats and cargo handling equipment:

Beneficiaries of the program choose electric, alternative fuel or new diesel models, said Nick Assendelft, a public information officer for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. The first round of funding will provide $16 million to replace outdated freight trucks and buses with new models. At least half of that is earmarked for electric vehicles.

…Later rounds of funding include opportunities to replace Great Lakes tug and ferry boats, airport ground support equipment, port cargo handling equipment and forklifts.

…Some organizations are already transitioning their fleets to alternative fuels. Over the past 11 years the Mass Transportation Authority of Flint and Genesee County has reduced annual diesel fuel use from 1.4 million gallons to 30,000 gallons. The public transportation agency has done that by converting its fleet to run on compressed natural gas, propane and hydrogen, said Edgar Benning, the authority’s chief executive officer.

Fueling a hydrogen bus costs about twice as much as fueling a diesel bus, Benning said. In return for the extra cost, you get almost double the mileage. Along with the performance and the maintenance of the vehicles, you really pick the cost up on the other side, Benning said.

Alternative fuel vehicles make up 95% of the authority’s fleet. They provide fixed-route busing along with transportation services for seniors and people with disabilities. The authority also has about 200 cars to provide non-emergency medical transportation. 

Lots more in the Echo!

The photo comes from MTA Flint, Genessee County’s transit authority.

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Happy 184th, Michigan!

Michigan Sign at State Line 1958

Michigan Sign at State Line 1958 by State of Michigan

January 26th is Michigan Statehood Day, Michigan’s 184th birthday. I put together some fun facts about Michigan back in 2012. They’re still true and still fun!

  • Michigan is derived from the Indian word Michigama, meaning great or large lake. (more about Michigan’s name on Michigan in Pictures)
  • French explorers Étienne Brulé & Grenoble are the first recorded Europeans to set foot in Michigan (you never know though). In 1668 Fathers Jacques Marquette and Claude Dablon established the first mission at Sault Ste. Marie, and in 1701, French officer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded  Fort Pontchartrain in Detroit.
  • The Michigan Territory was created, with Detroit designated as the seat of government and William Hull appointed as our first governor.
  • Michigan became the 26th state on the 26th of January, 1837. Is 26 our lucky number? FYI, our first State governor was Stevens T. Mason, the 25 year-old Boy Governor (the youngest state governor in American history).
  • Michigan’s nickname is “the Wolverine State”. It is generally believed to have been coined during the 1835 Toledo War between Michigan and Ohio, when our southern rivals gave us the name due to the wolverine’s reputation for sheer orneriness!
  • The Great Seal of Michigan was designed by Lewis Cass and was patterned after the seal of the Hudson Bay Fur Company. It depicts an elk on the left and a moose on the right supporting a shield that reads Tuebor (“I will protect”).The interior of the shield shows a figure on the shore with the sun rising over a lake. His right hand is raised, symbolizing peace, but he holds a rifle in his left hand, showing readiness to defend the state and nation.Below the shield is the inscription of our state motto Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice: “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.” (I just learned that Michigan has an Office of the Great Seal – how cool would it be to say you worked there??)
  • The original State Capitol of Michigan was Detroit, and it moved to Lansing in 1847 to help develop the western side of the state and due to the need to develop the western portions of the state and for easy defense from British troops. Here’s a pic of Michigan’s original Capitol Building and an 1890s view of the current Michigan capitol.
  • Michigan is the 10th largest state by area if you count the water … and who wouldn’t count the water??
  • Speaking of water, we have 3,288 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, good for second to only Alaska in coastline!

I originally got this photo from the Archives of Michigan’s Flickr account, but they’ve gotten rid of that. You can get all kinds of fun stories & facts from Michiganology.org though! 

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DNR Reopening Michigan Campgrounds & Harbors

When Hobbits ran Detroit by Andrew McFarlane

When Hobbits Ran Detroit by Andrew McFarlane

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced opening dates for campgrounds, harbors and other outdoor spaces as Michigan moves to Stage 4 of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Start plan:

“We are excited to open up these resources to visitors again,” said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “We can identify with the passion and enthusiasm people have for these beautiful outdoor spaces, especially during the warmer months, and we’re working hard to make sure everything is ready.”

Official opening dates include:

  • Dispersed camping on state-managed lands – which allows for greater social distancing and does not involve shared restroom or shower facilities – resumed May 29.
  • Camping at the state’s more than 140 rustic state forest campgrounds and overnight stays in DNR-managed harbors resume Wednesday, June 10.
  • Camping, overnight lodging facilities, day-use shelters and sanitation stations (common place to dispose recreation vehicle wastewater) in state parks and recreation areas reopen Monday, June 22. Please note that a handful of campgrounds have extended closures due to construction that was delayed due to the COVID-19 stay-home order and associated spending restrictions.
  • Many park amenities, such as bathroom buildings, hand-washing stations, trash services, concessions, playgrounds and play equipment, viewing platforms, fishing piers, GaGa ball pits, designated dog areas, disc golf courses, radio-controlled flying fields, pump tracks, and picnic tables and shelters, are beginning to open in phases. As anticipated opening dates are finalized, they will be posted to the DNR COVID-19 response page.

You can see campgrounds & make reservations at MiDNRReservations.com or call 800-44PARKS.

I took this picture way back in 2008. More in my Leelanau gallery on Flickr.

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#TBT Green Hornet

Green Hornet by Steve

Green Hornet by Steve

Oh yeah. Here’s a throwback Thursday from way back in 2006!

See more in Steve’s Film Scans album.

Drive Safely this Weekend, Michigan!

Amish buggy on the highway, photo by Sharon

Baseball is like driving, it’s the one who gets home safely that counts.
-Tommy Lasorda

I hope everyone who is traveling this weekend has a safe trip!

View Sharon’s photo background big and see more in her DIFFERENT slideshow.

Cadillac

Cadillac, photo by Gregg Mulholland

View the photo background bigtacular and see more in Gregg’s seriously cool Crystal Car Show slideshow.

More cars on Michigan in Pictures.

Born in the USA

Born in the USA, photo by Bill Dolak

Happy Fourth of July everyone!

View Bill’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his massive Michigan: Kalamazoo County slideshow.

#TBT Happy 100th Birthday to the Michigan State Police

State of Michigan State Police, photo by glory be me

 

A belated happy 100th birthday to the Michigan State police, who are 100 years and a day old today:

Since April 19, 1917, the Michigan State Police has proudly served the citizens of Michigan. From a cavalry of 300 men to a full-service police agency of more than 2,900 members, the Michigan State Police has proven itself as a world-class leader in law enforcement.

The Michigan Department of State Police began as a temporary, wartime emergency force for the purpose of domestic security during World War I. On April 19, 1917, Governor Albert Sleeper created the Michigan State Troops Permanent Force, (also known as the Michigan State Constabulary). With Colonel Roy C. Vandercook as the first commanding officer, this new force consisted of five Troops of mounted, dismounted and motorized units, totaling 300 men. On March 26, 1919, Public Act 26 reorganized the Constabulary as the permanent, peace-time Michigan State Police.

Michigan adopted a new Constitution in 1963, authorizing up to 20 departments. Public Act 380 of 1965 reorganized the Michigan Department of State Police as one of these departments. The Director holds the rank of Colonel and is appointed by the Governor.

Today, the Michigan State Police consists of a modern-day force of law enforcement professionals, using the latest up-to-date training and technology to protect the citizens of Michigan. What was once a cavalry of 300 men now has evolved into one of the leading police agencies of the United States.

View the photo of what I believe is a 1937 Ford Model 74 patrol car background big and see more in glory be me’s Untitled Set slideshow.

More #TBT (Throwback Thursdays) on Michigan in Pictures.

Automotive Old Guard Leading the Race to the Future

Autonomous Fusion Hybrid research vehicle in Dearborn, courtesy Ford Motor Co

While Uber, Tesla & Google are getting most of the ink, WIRED magazine’s article Detroit Is Stomping Silicon Valley in the Self-Driving Car Race says:

IF YOU’RE BETTING on Silicon Valley stars like Google, Tesla, and Uber to free you from your horrorshow commute with autonomous driving technology, don’t. That’s the key takeaway from a new report that finds Ford—yes, the Detroit-based, 113-year-old giant—is winning the race to build the self-driving car, with General Motors running a close second. Renault-Nissan, Daimler, and Volkswagen round out the top five. Meanwhile, Waymo—aka Google’s driverless car effort—sits in sixth place, with Tesla in twelfth. Uber languishes in sixteenth, behind Honda and barely ahead of startup Nutonomy and China’s Baidu.

That may sound all kinds of wrong to anyone who has seen Uber, Waymo, and Tesla flaunt their tech, and regards Detroit’s old guard as ill-prepared for the robotic future. But it’s the state of the race according to Navigant Research, whose newly released “leaderboard” report ranks these players not just on their ability to make a car drive itself, but on their ability to bring that car to the mass market.

Ford and GM both score in the low to mid 80s on the technology front; it’s their old-school skills that float them to first and second place. They’ve each spent more than a century developing, testing, producing, marketing, distributing, and selling cars. Plus, each has made strategic moves to bolster weak points. Ford just dumped a billion dollars into an artificial intelligence outfit. It acquired ride-sharing service Chariot and invested in Velodyne, a company producing lidar, the laser scanning tech many argue is necessary for self-driving cars. GM scooped up self-driving expertise via a startup called Cruise, and partnered with Lyft to put the eventual result on the road.

Lots more in a great article from WIRED!

View the photo of an autonomous Ford Fusion hybrid bigger on Ford’s website.

More cars & autos on Michigan in Pictures.