This Detroit-area freeway was the first of its kind in America

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Maybe you drive the Davison Freeway every day. Maybe you've driven by the signs. But did you know about its historical significance?

Detroit is the Motor City -- so it should be no surprise to find automobile related history being made, outside of actual cars. Here's one of those historic moments.

The Davison Freeway, which runs east-west between M-10 and Interstate 75, was the first urban freeway constructed in America.

The birth of Davison Avenue 

Davison Avenue, which predates the freeway and M-8, was named after Jared Davison, an English immigrant and early settler whose farm bordered what became Davison Avenue.

In 1914, the area was incorporated into a 2.9 square mile city called Highland Park, which exists within the boundaries of the City of Detroit.

Davison Avenue was the only viable east-west street that crossed Highland Park connecting to Detroit. Because of heavy traffic, the Highland Park Council approved a proposal to replace the road with a six-lane freeway and construction began in 1941.

As production progressed, defense plants during World War II needed access to the freeway, so the pace was increased.

Avenue turns to Davison Freeway -- history is made

In 1942, the freeway was opened without a dedication ceremony and thus the first urban, below grade freeway in the United States was born. 

In 1968, the freeway was extended eastward almost to Conant Street in order to connect to the new I-75 or Chrysler Freeway, making it approximately five and a half miles long.

In 1993, the road was transferred from Wayne County’s jurisdiction to the Michigan Department of Transportation and designated as M-8.

In 1996, it was closed for a $45 million reconstruction project. The construction lasted over a year, and the freeway reopened in April 1997.

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