Things I’ve Seen: The Dequindre Cut

The Dequindre Cut is the perfect little project going on in Detroit. It’s relatively low cost, it’s green, and it isn’t bulldozing the city’s character. This weekend was the official opening of the extension to Eastern Market, so my family and I rode it from there to the riverfront.

The Dequindre Cut is built on an old railroad track. Railroads and former riverbeds are perfect sites for trails because they are essentially flat. The flatness makes it totally feasible as an alternative to vehicular commuting (at least during the summer) for those living on or near the trail. Right now, the trail is pretty limited, but it will eventually be a part of a 20-mile greenway that encircles Detroit.

I have my concerns about the future of Detroit. Chief among them are the intense resistance to and dilution of transit projects and the abundance of single-family detached homes in a cold climate. It will take some truly remarkable transformations to make Detroit a sustainable city (particularly in environmental terms). However, places such as the Dequindre Cut and Eastern Market demonstrate that Detroit has something unique, namely an extremely mobilized citizenry and a greater commitment to integration (which is still a compromise and very far from perfect) over gentrification than many other cities. These traits constitute Detroit’s X Factor, and I can’t help but be excited to see how this city evolves.

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