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Jin Kim

What sort of shape is Detroit's underground infrastructure in today?

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Is there somewhere that I can get a good overview of Detroit's underground infrastructure (sewage, electrical, tele-comm, etc.).

I'm particularly interested in downtown, mid-town, new center, corktown and rivertown area.

Even just information on when was the last time major work was done on them would be nice to know.

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Man, i imagine that much of it is in pretty rough shape, exept around the stadiums and such.

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There has been a decades long upgrade to Lansing historic underground infastructure (that has caused us much headaches), which nearly completely shut down some areas of the city for years at a time. I can't even imagine the state of the underground infastructure in Old Detroit being considerably older and more extensive.

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I think the underground of cities is very interesting. It's like a city of its own underneath. there's basements, tunnels going between buildings, water pipes, utility lines, natural objects and features. From my understanding pilot holes were made for the unmade subway system, so there are probably a few little caverns downtown somewhere, as long as they didn't get filled in.

I'm sure there's probably debris from when Detroit burnt down. I saw something on tv about some people in New York who were allowed to excavate this site of a new skyscraper before construction started and there was a lot of history. Detroit's not as old as New York, but it dates back to the 1700's at least (not including and Indian history), so I'm sure there's a lot of cool stuff (aka 300 year old garbage) underground.

I'm sure there's a lot of really interesting stuff burried in the Detroit River too.

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^i have to think they have dreged the river at least once in the last 100 years?

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^They did. When the 3 thoroughfares were redone (Woodward, Washington, Broadway). I heard Peter Zeiler of the DEGC speak yesterday and he was telling us that when the streets were redone, they dug into old wooden water and sewer pipes from the 1800s that were so corroded and "fossilized" (for lack of a better term) that they had to spend more money than planned to dig them out.

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they seriously had wooden lines? dam that is old!

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yeah! that is really old! you think they wouldve been replaced with clay or iron line.

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No, not being used. lol...They were corroded and imbeded in the earth.

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It would be interesting to dig up underneath Detroit's streets. Im sure youd find lots of cool old pipe and crap like that. lol.

Itd be really cool to find one of the old subway tunnels.

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I'm trying to think of how far back a wooden water system would have been installed. Anyone have a guess or knowledge as to the age of said system?

Also, I tried to do a bit of resarch but could not find much about the legendary incomplete subway system. One source mentioned that as much as 3 to 4 miles of tunnels were built and then abandoned. Can anyone tell me where these were located, when they were build (source speculates 1928), and what the system was to look like.

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I've heard everything about the subway from that there are actual tunnels underneath the city all the way to the other end of the spectrum that this is all totally an urban legend. I tend to think it's somewhere in between. I've heard there may only be one platform that was partially completed.

Some of the rumors may arise from the fact that there is a small system of tunnels beneath downtown Detroit, but they are pedestrian tunnels.

*EDIT*

Did some searching on DetroitYes, and came up with a thread, but the link doesn't seem to work. In the search type in Detroit and subway and make sure to set the keyword search to "and" instead of "or." It should be search #14 titled "Hall of Fame Threads: Detroit Expressway Planning circa 1945"

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The sources I've seen say that the pilot tunnels (not finished tunnels) were dug 2-3 miles along Michigan, Woodward and Gratiot. Portions of subway stations were completed under Campus Martius & Grand Circus Park.

Of course how much truth there is to this we will probably never know.

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Oh, I wouldn't say we'll never know. I'd think if you'd ask all of the Detroit historians you'd eventually be able to piece together a good string of facts, and find out the mystery. It seems the only thing keeping people from finding out is that no ones never really asked or researched this deeply. Then again, I'm of the opinion that you can find out almost anything if you're tenacious enough. I've found out through even just simple email research tons of interesting architectural facts and history.

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Where should one look for information like this?

Would the Detroit Historic Museum be a good place to start or should I start at the City?

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There's images of construction. Unfortunately, the photos don't exactly tell where it was occuring, and many of the buildings in the images no longer exist. I read in a book somewhere that Eaton Tower (the broderick) was supposed to contain a station. I guess that's up to Allan to tell us whether the Brody has any visible signs of roughed out circulation spaces for a station. The most reasonable accounts I've heard of the subway system is that the pilot tunnels are now conduit tunnels, and probably not even accesible because a human body could not squeeze between all of the pipes and electrical.

If you want to actually explore a good part of "underground detroit" go to MCS. I always wanted to map out that confusing mess down there in the basement and beyond, but it seems like it goes on forever at times. And some portions are filled with water.

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Nowhere in the 100+ sheets that I have of the Eaton Tower blueprints does it say anything about a subway station, nor are there any signs of a station in the basement & sub basement. All there is down there is a whole bunch of 20+ year old, waterlogged junk and some machinery so rusted that it appears to have come off the Titanic wreck. The nearest subway station was to be constructed across the street in Grand Circus Park.

The state of Michigan holds the plans for the Detroit subway system. Unfortunately, I cannot remember which department has them - it seems to me like it's some sort of geographic department.

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I've read that thread before, and the whole thing is very interesting.

I think the subway would have probably been shut down if it had been built, but I think if it was there, it would be able to be rennovated and brought back.

Does anyone have any money? Let's go build a subway. :)

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Allan, City Hall has a municipal library with all kinds of municipal history on Detroit. I have no idea how accessible it is, but it would be a safe bet knowing about Detroit government that it would probably be pretty inaccessible to the public. lol

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To my knowledge, there is not a copy of the subway plans held at city hall. One of these days I need to go down there anyway, but I'm trying to put it off as long as possible, since I know I'll be spending at least an entire afternoon there, and that's time I don't have right now. Anyhow, I could check on that then.

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