The M-1

Photo Credit: Matt Harding, Feb 2015, The Center for Michigan; Bridge Magazine

The M-1, better known as Woodward Ave was established way before the city of Detroit was formed. Native Americans used this road as a primary transportation path. Back then, this path was considered to be the Saginaw Trail, which became the “corduroy road” for wagon travel. It wasn’t until 1909 when the first mile of concrete highway in the world was built on Woodward avenue between six and seven mile roads. Starting from the Detroit River, Woodward avenue stretches all the way out to the city of Pontiac. Named in honor of the Supreme Court Judge, Augustus B Woodward, Woodward Avenue runs through 2 counties and is one of five principal avenues of Detroit. In 1932 permission was granted to widen Woodward avenue from 66 feet to 120 feet wide. Buildings were demolished and removed along the avenue to clear wider street paths. This was to create not only room for the booming automobile industry, but new businesses and sidewalks as well.

It wasn’t until 1970 when Woodward Avenue became known as the “M-1”. According to, Woodward avenue was Designated as Automobile National Heritage Area by National Park Service in 1998, designated as Michigan Heritage Route by MDOT in 1999 and, Designated as National Byway by FHWA in 2002. America’s automobile heritage is represented along this highway and it has brought the city of Detroit many positives attributes.