AskDefine | Define downriver

Dictionary Definition

downriver adv : away from the source or with the current [syn: downstream] [ant: upriver, upriver]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Closer to the mouth of a river
    My house is downriver to his.


  1. Travelling in the direction of the river current.
    It is easier to paddle downriver.


Extensive Definition

Downriver is the unofficial, but commonly used, name for a collection of 18 suburban cities and townships in Wayne County, Michigan south of Detroit along the western shore of the Detroit River.
The name derives from the fact that the Detroit River, after running nearly east-west along the banks of Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, then bends to flow largely north-south before emptying into Lake Erie. Communities to the south of the city can thus be accessed by traveling downriver (as opposed to upriver) along the waterway.
In the early to mid-20th Century, Downriver was mostly populated with workers who were employed by the dozens of auto factories, ship builders, steel mills and chemical plants that called the area home, chiefly The Rouge, Great Lakes Steel, McLouth Steel, and BASF.
Many still think of Downriver as purely industrial and indeed the area is still home to many involved with heavy industry. However, Downriver is actually largely residential, with middle-class neighborhoods, and is known for its boating, fishing, bird watching and waterfowl hunting enjoyed in, or around the Detroit River. The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, North America's first and only international wildlife refuge and an extensive network of recreational trails built under the Downriver Linked Greenways Initiative are two environmental conservation and recreation projects in the region.
The News-Herald is the major local newspaper for Downriver, publishing on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.

Downriver Communities

Differences of Communities

Northern Downriver communities near Detroit and Dearborn, Michigan (such as Allen Park, Lincoln Park, Wyandotte, River Rouge, Melvindale and Ecorse) were developed in the 1920s-1940s and are identified by brick and mortar homes (often bungalows), tree-lined streets and Works Progress Administration-designed municipal buildings. Communities that developed further south — like Southgate, Riverview and Trenton — in the 1950s-1970s could be more closely identified as tract homes and subdivisions. Through the 1980s, areas such as Huron Township, Flat Rock, Rockwood, Woodhaven and Romulus were undeveloped, some of which still have operating farms. However, those areas are quickly building up.
The Downriver cities of Ecorse, Gibraltar, River Rouge, Riverview, Trenton and Wyandotte as well as Brownstown Township and Grosse Ile Township directly border the Detroit River.
Socially speaking, the Downriver communities collectively have a distinct cultural identity within suburban Detroit although some individual Downriver communities share many similarities with towns in the western, northern and eastern suburbs of Detroit.
Taylor is considered the heart of Downriver which includes the Wayne County Community College Downriver Campus, Michigan State Police Metro South Post, Southland Mall, a state of the art sports complex called the Taylor Sportsplex, Oakwood Heritage hospital, Taylor Meadows and Lakes of Taylor golf courses, Wallside Windows Factory, Cruisin' Telegraph, and a very large park called "Heritage Park" in the center of the city where in August, the city hosts the Junior League World Series. Taylor and Heritage Park also hosts the largest 4th of July festival in Downriver where the fireworks are rated the best fireworks in the Detroit Metro area.

Downriver Cruise

The Downriver Cruise is a large car show and cruise that takes place on M-85/Fort the Downriver cities of Southgate, Riverview, Wyandotte, and Lincoln Park. A lot of people bring their vintage cars to be seen and heard. There are also a lot of places to eat and get souvenirs from.


According to the 2000 census, the 18 Downriver cities and townships had an aggregate population of 361,454.
Some Downriver communities were once known for their large number of people of Southern origin who had migrated to Michigan to work in the automotive industry during the early to mid-20th Century. This migration slowed after World War II; today, distinctively or predominantly Southern neighborhoods have not existed in Metro Detroit, including Downriver, for several decades.
The composition of the workforce in Downriver communities is very diverse as residents work in white-collar and blue-collar occupations. One of the largest employers is the Ford Motor Company which has a large industrial complex in nearby Dearborn and numerous other area plants. In addition, many residents work in professional jobs in downtown Detroit.
Downriver is also home to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, in Romulus.


The proximity to Canada, coupled with residents associated with the Purple Gang, made Downriver one of the nation's major bootlegging hubs during prohibition. According to "Intemperance: The Lost War Against Liquor" by Larry Englemann, "Soon after the passage of prohibition thousands of residents of the downriver communities began participating in rum-running and consequently reaped nearly unbelievable riches from their activities. During the prohibition years, in Ecorse and the other downriver towns, crime paid. Lavishly.

Famous Downriver Residents or Natives


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