Copyright © Cindy Lindow Photography
Dequindre Cut #4
The rail line was built in the 1830s by the Detroit and Pontiac Railroad, a predecessor of Canadian National Railway subsidiary Grand Trunk Western Railroad. By the 1920s, there were over 400 industries operating on Detroit's east side. However, the combination of the city's haphazard streetplan, the expansion of large factories, and the substantial network of rail tracks conspired to slow traffic within the city, particularly in the east-west direction. In 1923, the city of Detroit and the railroad began a plan to build 22 grade separations; both parties agreed to share the cost.
One of the tracks to be regraded was the line paralleling St. Aubin. These tracks ran from the northwest, where they connected with a network of other lines, to the southeast, where the tracks turned to parallel the river and supplied a number of large factories, including the Detroit-Michigan Stove Plant, the United States Rubber Company Plant, and the Parke-Davis Laboratories. The tracks terminated at the Brush Street Depot in downtown Detroit.
By March 1930, sixteen of the crossings of the Dequindre Cut were finished, including the Chestnut Street Bridge; the nearby Antietam Avenue Bridge was completed soon thereafter. These two bridges are particularly significant in their illustration of the construction of the time and their relationship to the right-of-way below.
As the century progressed, rail usage declined. Passenger service through the Cut was discontinued in 1982, and freight service continued only a few years beyond that. In 1998-2000, Canadian National sold the 3.5-mile section of track (including the Cut) south of their main line. During this time of abandonment, the Dequindre Cut was used by graffiti artists, attracted by the concrete bridge abutments and overpasses which protected the art from the weather, as well as the out-of-the-way location. The resulting art included some graffiti masterpieces.
This section of the Dequindre cut has yet to be renovated.