John Kronk Street is an industrial lined street in southwest Detroit. It runs about two miles, from Livernois Avenue on the east to the Dearborn city limits on the west. It’s a wide street that bumps up to some of the largest railroad yards in the city. The massive yards seem to be a major hub for freight trains with at least ten sets of tracks spread across acres of dark soil. Beyond the tracks, looking south toward the Detroit River, are piles of what appears to be gravel or coal stacked a few stories tall like large ant hills found in a field.
Toward the western end of the street are a series of black overhead train tracks that cross Kronk. They rest on thick steel trestles that are supported by brawny cement pillars. The tracks feed directly into the railroad yard and the heavy industrial complexes found near that end of the street.
Approaching the west end of Kronk (near the Dearborn border) on my recent bicycle ride, I noticed a very cool 1920′s vintage RR building on the north side of the street. At one time it could have been a small passenger station or ticket office for trains heading out of Detroit. Despite a little graffiti, it looks to be in remarkably good shape and well maintained.
Also on the north side of Kronk are a series of truck terminals, used auto parts sellers and numerous junk yards. The large truck terminals I passed had hundreds of semi-truck trailers backed into loading docks and lined up along a chain linked fence that faced Kronk. The trailers were packed in like cereal boxes on a supermarket shelf, with little space between them.
There are also large manufacturing facilities on that side of the street that include a ferrous metal processing plant, a brick manufacturer and other miscellaneous small manufacturing facilities. Noticeably absent were party stores, restaurants, and other small businesses of this type.
Like many streets and neighborhoods in Detroit where I’ve ridden my bicycle, Kronk is a street of contrast. At the east end, off in the distance, are the gleaming towers of the Renaissance Center and other tall buildings of Downtown Detroit. At the other end, to the west, are the dark, coal colored steel plants of Zug Island and the Ford Rouge plant.