An article in The Atlantic's City Lab
begins on a poetic note:
"The alley is dark no longer.
"In the United States, these almost-accidental spaces between buildings have existed in a sort of limbo: not quite streets, but still thoroughfares; not private, but not public enough to feel protected; backdrops to crime, or filled with trash heaps."
The article continues by detailing the way cities, including Detroit, are creatively rethinking use of these "almost accidental" spaces. For years, writes Eillie Anzilotti, "[alleys] were a place to conduct activities considered unfit for the main street," like big deliveries or trash collection.
But urban planners are beginning to recognize how much untapped space exists in alleys. One of these new approaches was adopted by Detroit's own Tom and Peggy Brennan. The Green Alley
, adjacent to their business-incubator and coworking space the Green Garage (profiled in Model D
), is a prototype for the green alley movement being adopted by many U.S. cities.
The Green Alley, writes Anzilotti, "incorporates permeable surfaces and gardening space, and has transformed a space once filled with mattresses and hypodermic needles into a community gathering place."
There's many other interesting cases mentioned in the article, and one wonders which alleys in Detroit would make for promising redevelopment opportunities.