Friday lunch recap 11/8/2013: What About A Detroit Alley District?

Last month in Model D Claire Nelson and Francis Grunow wrote a piece entitled “What If Dally Was Daily?”, making the case for an alley district in Detroit utilizing the existing infrastructure to encourage a more walkable community. This past Friday Francis and Claire described their vision at our Friday meeting, followed by an alley tour at 4pm. Some of their points included:

  • A discussion of Sanborn Maps, drawn up for fire insurance purposes, detailing buildings, streets and alleyways from the 1800’s.
  • A view of a pedestrian-only district supported by an alley infrastructure as a new way of living in the city.
  • The Alley District having a foundation where the current Dally in the Alley takes place, and spreading south and east.
  • A discussion of scalability, with the dimensions of an alley walk as often more comfortable and intimate than our outsized streets.


Later that afternoon, Francis and Claire took us on a tour of this imagined future Alley District, about a 1-hour walk. For many of us, used to moving through the city via car or walking or biking the major streets, the walk opened our eyes to the small, interesting sights that the alleys provide. Great architecture, many old garages (some dating back to the horse and buggy era), apartment buildings’ back yards and courtyards, beautiful trees growing in surprisingly tight spots….it’s like seeing Detroit for the first time. This is an idea that could take hold.

alley walk

Leave a Comment