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Downtown Detroit Transportation

Navigation Basics in Downtown Detroit

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  • Geography/Main Streets (Map): The Detroit River runs east/west, forming the southern boundary of downtown. Jefferson Avenue runs along the river, and Woodward Avenue runs north, perpendicular to it. Most of the downtown attractions are located within a few blocks of Jefferson and Woodward.


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  • Street Design: The street layout in Detroit is modeled after Pierre Charles L’Enfant's hub-and-spoke design in Washington, D.C. The hub is Campus Martius Park, located just north of the river. The spokes are Woodward Avenue, which runs north, and Fort, Grand River, Gratiot, Jefferson and Michigan Avenues.


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  • Freeways: While several freeways converge outside of downtown, only three have exits directly into the downtown area: M-10 ("The Lodge") has exits along the western edge of downtown, I-75 (Fisher) has exits to the north and I-375 (Chrysler) has exits to the east. Both M-10 and I-375 run south and eventually merge onto Jefferson Avenue along the river. Most of the freeways leading into Detroit received renovations in preparation for the 2006 Super Bowl.


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  • Parking: There is abundant, reasonably priced parking downtown.


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  • People Mover: The elevated train circles around downtown and makes stops along a one-way circuit. At just .50 cents a token, the People Mover is the best method for getting around downtown when you have to go more than a couple of blocks.


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  • Buses: While service was curtailed in 2005, transit-officer patrolled routes are still available downtown. One route runs along Woodward Avenue. Another route starts at Comerica, runs south on Woodward Avenue and then runs east on Jefferson Avenue. While the fare boxes accept bills up to $5, change is made in Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) value cards.


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  • Taxis: While not nearly as prevalent as in other major cities, taxis are available. Stands are located in just a few locations, including MGM Casino, Cobo Hall, Millender Center, the RenCen, Greektown, Comerica Park and the McNamara Building. While tricky, it is possible to flag a cab, but you’re better off calling to arrange one. The biggest taxi company in Detroit is Checker Cab at 313-963-7000.
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