Detroit’s riverfront is one of the city’s main attractions. The riverfront attracts an estimated 3.5 million people each year, according to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. Along with a popular riverwalk, which has been named the nation’s best riverwalk by USA Today for three years running, there are multiple parks and a famous concert venue right on the river. However, back in the late 90s, there was another plan for the riverfront. 

Former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer planned to build a casino district along the river, which would have not only changed the view Canadians living in Windsor have, but it would have also impacted Detroiters living east of downtown near the river. A grassroots effort led by Detroiters called the Riverfront East Alliance – or REAL – came together to help put an end to that casino district plan. 

REAL comprised Detroiters from about a dozen neighborhoods, mostly on the city’s east side. The members said adding casinos to the riverfront would ruin the natural beauty of the area. There was also a concern about the noise, traffic, and crowds that might accompany casinos along the river.  

One Detroit contributor Bryce Huffman talks with members of the Riverfront East Alliance about their preservation efforts. 

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