Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Our readers are invited to join Celebrating of Excellence: 60 Years of Growth in Troy and the Big Beaver Corridor on April 21 at Huntington Bank, 801 Big Beaver Road, 5:30-7:30 pm. For more registration information please go to www.troyhistoricvillage.org/embracing-excellence.
When Larry Keisling accepted a position as Troy’s new Planning Director in November 1968, much of the new City was still undeveloped. Big Beaver Road, like most of the main roads in Troy, was only two lanes. Only a portion of Stevenson Highway included a boulevard. Aerial views of Troy showed small homes, large gardens, a few horse pastures, and Black Angus cattle grazing at Hilly Acres Farm.
But the late 1960s also marked the beginning of 30-year period of rapid development in the City. Infrastructure improvements including sanitary sewers, storm water drains, and water mains that provided access to City of Detroit water were critical precursors to residential and commercial developments. The reputation of Troy schools attracted new residents while I-75 made Troy a convenient and desirable location for business.
“Big Beaver Road was always considered our major thoroughfare,” said Keisling in a 2005 interview. The challenge faced by planners and engineers was determining how the roadway would be developed. In 1978 a Citizens’ Advisory Committee recommended a plan with landscaped boulevards separating multiple lanes of east and westbound traffic. Their plan was confirmed by a vote of the citizens. In the following decades sections of Big Beaver were widened and the boulevards installed as Federal, County, City and developer funds were amassed.
The area around the I-75 interchange just west of the Civic Center was developed first. The stretch of Big Beaver Road east of Livernois was not widened until the 1980s. Between 1982 and 1985 approximately 36 small businesses and residential homes were leveled or relocated when the road was widened.
Photo: Big Beaver Road looking east from Livernois in 1982
To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TroyHistoricVillage. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at email@example.com.