I have a bit of a hair-trigger for nostalgia. So much so that recently, when I nearly jogged over the now-demolished Third Street overpass Wile E. Coyote-style, my first reaction was wistfulness. (My second, more rational thought was, “Oh f*ck!”)
The deteriorating bridge over I-94 had been closed to traffic since a 2017 inspection found it unsafe. The blockades were intended to keep pedestrians out too, a Michigan Department of Transportation spokesman said, but they didn’t prevent travelers like me from biking or walking past the barricades. With no cars to negotiate, there was something glorious about cresting the peaceful hill and taking in the flat Midwestern freeway vista — a win for the slower guy.
I only “discovered” the missing overpass with its bridge guts hanging out last month, but it was removed back in November to clear the way for I-94/M-10 interchange improvements that will be completed as part of MDOT’s I-94 modernization project. The overpass will not be replaced, and later this decade, cul-de-sacs will be built at Third Street on either side of the freeway.
Nearby, the new Second Avenue Bridge has sprung up fast and furious this spring, with its construction taking place on a Wayne State University parking lot alongside the freeway. The bridge will then be ROLLED INTO PLACE over the freeway, and it will accommodate pedestrians and bikers, as well as cars, when it opens later this year. So there’s plenty of bridge to go around, and my insights into the efficacy or impact of expanding I-94 and reconfiguring its overpasses are pretty limited.
Still, I can’t help but feel a wistful pang for that other bridge (and I’m not the only one), along with a neighborhood sinkhole you could dangle your legs in, the desire path across a field that’s now under development, the misshapen patio furniture around a fire pit on another vacant lot and all the touchstones one gathers and loses in the always-changing urban environment. They might not be historically significant, but they’re full of personal history.
So, I’d love to know – what are your personal Detroit landmarks, the uncelebrated and uncharted places on your internal city map? Let’s give them their due before they’re gone, or leave a record if they’ve been replaced. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share a memory.