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Cruise on Woodward (M-1/Old US 10 in Detroit)

While recently in the Mid-West I visited my home town of Detroit to attend a Tigers baseball game at Comerica Park.  Given Comerica Park is located on Woodward Avenue I figured a "cruise" south from I-94 to downtown Detroit was in order.


Few urban roadways can claim to be as classic Americana or as essential to modern transportation as Woodward Avenue.  Woodward Avenue is the central north/south roadway in the City of Detroit and is mostly known as being part of US Route 10.  Woodward Avenue begins at Jefferson Avenue at the Detroit River and travels north out of the city where it ends near downtown Pontiac in a loop configuration.  Woodward Avenue is part of M-1 from Grand Circus Park in downtown Detroit north to Bloomfield Township where it becomes part of the US 24/I-75 Business Loop at Square Lake Road.

Detroit has origins dating back to 1701 when it was founded as Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit by French explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac on the north bank of the Detroit River.  The French fortification eventually grew into a thriving community which was eventually captured by the British in 1760 (who in turn shortened the name to Detroit) during the 1754-1763 French and Indian War.  Following the French and Indian War Detroit became part of the newly created Province of Quebec and was one of the larger communities.  Detroit was the eventually ceded to the Americans following the Jay Treaty becoming effective in 1796 at the conclusion of the American Revolution.

In 1805 a massive fire broke out in Detroit which burned it almost entirely to the ground.  As a result of the fire the City of Detroit was re-plotted with a new master street grid by Michigan Territorial Judge Augustus Woodward.  The new street grid was to contain a central circle known as the Grand Circus where the city would have major roadways diverge in all directions from.  Although the Grand Circus was only half completed the central street was built as Woodward Avenue.  Below a map of the original 1805 Detroit street grid plan can be seen.

Post-1805 Fire Detroit Street Grid Map Plan

Although the Grand Circus never fully came to fruition the effect on the street network of Detroit no doubt played a vital part in development of the City.  The partially completed Grand Circus along with Woodward Avenue being routed through the heart of Detroit can be seen in the below 1897 map of the city.

1891 Detroit Street Map

By 1913 the State of Michigan created the State Trunkline System.  Beginning in 1919 Woodward Avenue would come to be signed as part of M-10, the Dixie Highway and Roosevelt International Highway.  These designations can be seen along Woodward Avenue on the 1924 Rand McNally Auto Trail Map below.

1924 Michigan Auto Trail Map 

By late 1926 the US Route System was created and US 10 was applied over Woodward Avenue in 1927 according to michiganhighways.org.

michiganhighways.org on US 10

US 10 can be seen Woodward Avenue north of Detroit on this 1931 Clason Road Map of Michigan.

1931 Michigan Highway Map

Regarding the endpoint of US 10 on Woodward Avenue it appears to had a terminus at US 112/Michigan Avenue at Campus Martius.  The converging endpoints of US 10, US 12, US 16 and US 112 in downtown Detroit can be seen in great detail on this 1956 Shell Highway Map.

1956 Detroit Highway Map

USends.com features a Detroit page for US Route endpoints.  The page shows in clear detail a photo signage that implies US 10 ended on Woodward Avenue at US 112.  The USends Detroit Page also features the endpoint history of US 12, US 16 and US 112.

USends.com Detroit Page

According to michiganhighways.org US 10 was approved to be moved to the Lodge Freeway by 1969.  In 1970 a new designation of M-1 was applied on Woodward Avenue over what was US 10.  In 1977 M-1 was likely cut back on Woodward Avenue to Adams Street at the north end of Grand Circus Park.  In 1999 M-1 was given Historic Heritage Route.  Oddly in 2001 the State of Michigan extended M-1 south to Grand River Avenue only to be truncated back to Adams Street by 2004.

michiganhighways.org on M-1

As for the Woodward Dream Cruise, the first event was held in 1995.  Personally the event has kind of irked me a way since it really hasn't done a good job in promoting Woodward Avenue in the City of Detroit.  The Woodward Dream Cruise has traditionally ended at the north Detroit City Limit at 8 Mile Road.  Either way the event is an easy way to see a bunch of classic cars of all vintage in one place.

2019 Woodward Dream Cruise Map

My approach to Woodward Avenue began from I-94/Edsel Ford Freeway eastbound at Exit 215C.  I-94 east doesn't directly connect with Woodward Avenue and requires back tracking one block west.  Interestingly US 12 may have ended at this point briefly but by most accounts it was shifted off the Edsel Ford Freeway south onto the Lodge Freeway in 1956.


Woodward Avenue south of I-94 progresses through Wayne State University.




Woodward Avenue continues southward towards downtown passing by Little Caesars Arena.  Little Caesars Arena opened in 2015 and is the home to the Detroit Red Wings in addition to Detroit Pistons.  Previously the Red Wings played at Joe Louis Arena and the Pistons played at the Palace of Auburn Hills.










South of Little Caesars Arena Woodward Avenue has a junction with I-75/Fisher Freeway as it enters downtown Detroit.




Comerica Park; home of the Detroit Tigers is located 2100 Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit immediately south of I-75.  Comerica Park opened in 2000 and was replacement for Tigers Stadium which was located to the west on Michigan Avenue/US 12.  The main entrance of Comerica Park is located off of Woodward Avenue on Columbia Street.


Comerica Park features a southward view of downtown Detroit which in my opinion was a huge improvement over Tigers Stadium.



When Comerica Park opened in 2000 it featured a statue park of Tigers players who had retired numbers.  Since Comerica Park opened the amount of retired numbers has expanded but there has not been any statues erected.

















Across Woodward Avenue from Comerica Park is the 1928 Fox Theatre.  The Fox Theatre features over 5,000 seats and was fully restored in 1988.  The Fox Theatre was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 and National Historic Landmark in 1989.


The best view of downtown along Woodward Avenue in my opinion is in the middle of the street in front of Fox Theatre.


As Woodward Avenue enters Grand Circus Park the M-1 Trunkline ends at Adams Street.




Grand Circus Park was established around the incomplete Grand Circus in 1850.  Grand Circus Park features a historic district and various monuments to the history of Detroit.



 



Detroit-Windsor Tunnel traffic is directed off of Woodward Avenue in Grand Circus Park towards Broadway Street.


South of Grand Circus Park the QLine Street System is very apparent.  The QLine opened in 2017 and runs from Congress Street near the Detroit River northward on Woodward Avenue to Grand Boulevard.




US 10 on Woodward Avenue would passed by Hudson's Building at Grand River Avenue which was to the left in the two photos below.  The Hudson's Building opened in 1911 and served as the company Flagship Store in addition to company headquaters.  The Hudson's Store was over 400 feet in height and featured 32 floors.  The Hudson's Building was imploded in 1998 although the Thanksgiving Parade started by the company in 1924 still continues to this day.  It is unclear if US 12 or US 16 ever ended at Woodward Avenue via Grand River Avenue but the latter may have up until the early 1940s.  Prior to the 1940s US 12 ended at US 16/Grand River Avenue via Plymouth Road.  US 12 was co-signed with US 16 to a mutual terminus at US 112/Michigan Avenue via Washington Boulevard by the late 1940s. 



US 10 on Woodward Avenue terminated at US 112 at Michigan Avenue.  During the heyday of the US Route system Woodward Avenue continued directly south through what is now Campus Martius Park.   Campus Martius Park was the original focal point for all the major streets to converge in downtown south of Grand Circus Park after the 1805 Fire.  Campus Martius was eventually removed to make way for increased in vehicular traffic.  Campus Martius Park was rebuilt and reopened in 2007.




Woodward Avenue meets Fort Street on the south side of Campus Martius Park.  US 25 east would have briefly joined Woodward Avenue before turning originally onto Monroe Street and by way of Cadillac Square towards Randolph Street in the late 1940s.  South of Fort Street the route of Woodward Avenue continued to the Detroit River and was signed as part of US 12 from 1981 to 2001.  US 12 ended at Jefferson Avenue which was also the terminus point of US 10 when it was routed onto the Lodge Freeway.



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