Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Detroit United Railway

During the late 1800s, Detroit had approximately twenty-nine different streetcar companies that operated either horse-drawn or electric powered streetcars in and along the city.  In 1900, four companies remained:  The Detroit  Citizens  Street  Railway, the Detroit  Electric  Railway, the Detroit Fort  Wayne and Belle Isle  Railway, and the Detroit  Suburban  Railway.  On December 31, 1900, all four companies were to be absorbed into the newly formed Detroit United Railway.

During this time, a new form of transportation, the Interurban Electric Railway was also developing.  With larger and more luxurious cars, these cars could travel faster and helped with short haul passenger runs.  By August of 1901, the Detroit United Railway had acquired all but one of these interurban lines and was able to travel to far away cities as Port Huron, Flint, Pontiac, Ann Arbor, Jackson, and Toledo, Ohio.

By 1910, the city’s population had mushroomed and the railway was unable to handle the increasing population of travelers to the outlying borders of Detroit.  In 1922, the question of municipal ownership of the Detroit United Railway was placed before the public and was approved.  The Detroit United Railway became the municipal Department of Street Railways (DSR).

Written by Stacy Newman




Detroit United Railway streetcar

Detroit United Railway stock certificate

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