Green alley

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BEFORE: The alley in July 2008 - facing west
AFTER: The alley in June 2011

This project was intended to create a model for sustainable alleys of the future for our city and region. So often an alley is a visible representation of the worst of our culture...the waste, trash, urban wasteland. And yet, we long for a more respectful relationship with the earth than our alleys represent. Our alley spaces have great possibilities. We need to just envision a new future and make it happen. Who knows where this may lead? All we need is one green alley...and then another.

This is the story of one alley in Detroit. It is between Canfield and Prentis off Second in the Midtown section of Detroit. In 2008, this alley looked abandoned with trash, broken pavement, overgrown weeds, and neglected sides of buildings. It is now a vibrant greenway for pedestrians and bicyclists to enjoy the beautiful gardens, stop and shop at local business establishments or gather with a few neighbors to talk about the day.

In 2008 the people of Motor City Brewing Works and the Green Garage began discussions of the alley's possibilities. A garden group formed to design the gardens and select Michigan native plants. Plans were drawn up and approved, we teamed with the Midtown Detroit, funding was received and in April 2010 construction began. The alley's official opening was September 16th, 2010.


  • Interview with WDET's Craig Fahle on the Green Alley. Approximately 15 minutes. Interview with Tom Brennan, Dan Scarsella and John Linardos took place in the alley on June 15th. Here's a link to the program.


Green alley design.jpg

If you'd like to develop your own alley into a green alley, here's some advice on how to get it done.

Green alley design and development


Alley water before.jpg
Alley water after.jpg

The alley after rainfall, in 2008 and 2010. Permeable pavers and native gardens absorb excess water.

For more pictures of the alley, see our Green Alley Flickr page

green alley index | Green Alley Project
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