Detroit's abandoned tunnels

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Detroit's abandoned tunnels are a fascinating part of the city's history, serving various purposes over the years. One of the most notable types of tunnels in Detroit is the Prohibition-era tunnels. Detroit was the first major U.S. city to instate Prohibition, leading to the rise of underground smuggling and speakeasies. Some experts estimate that Detroit’s river crossing to Canada was responsible for 75% of alcohol during Prohibition. For instance, Tommy’s Bar on Third Avenue, which was formerly owned by businessmen affiliated with the city’s notorious, had an underground speakeasy and tunnel1. Another significant type of tunnel in Detroit is the pedestrian tunnels, which were built in the 1920s in response to the rising level of traffic through the Highland Park area. These tunnels were implemented to protect pedestrians, especially children, from traffic accidents. The first of these tunnels was built in 1925 and featured an iron gate that would lock at night235. Utility tunnels were installed in the early 1950s below Detroit’s midtown and downtown streets to carry water and steam. A network of steam tunnels and pipes dating back to 1903 is used to heat buildings throughout the city. These tunnels reach 60 feet below the street surface and stretch for miles1. There are also tunnels under I-94, which were built to provide access to farmlands and local roadways split in half by the creation of the interstate4. The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, built in 1928, serves as an underwater passageway for cars crossing the international border between the U.S. and Canada8. Finally, there are service tunnels beneath the now-closed Northland Center mall, which were used for making truck deliveries to the mall's stores, storage, workshop space, and even as nuclear bomb shelters13. While most of these tunnels are now abandoned and closed off to the public, they provide a unique insight into Detroit's past.
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