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Alley: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, 90 cm wide, the narrowest alley in Gamla stan, Stockholm.

An alley or alleyway is a narrow, pedestrian lane found in urban areas which usually runs between or behind buildings. In older cities and towns in Europe, alleys are often what is left of a medieval street network, or a right of way or ancient footpath in an urban setting. In older urban development, alleys were built to allow for deliveries such as coal to the rear of houses. Alleys may be paved, or simply dirt tracks. A blind alley has no outlet at one end and is thus a cul-de-sac.


Modern planning

Many modern urban developments do not incorporate alleys. In some locations installation of gates to restrict alleyway access have significantly reduced burglary rates.[citation needed] On blocks where gates are not installed, residents sometimes erect home-made barricades at alley entrances.

Andrés Duany, American architect and urban planner has long espoused the use of alleys as leading to a better integration of automobile and foot traffic in a neighborhood.

In some modern urban developments, a service road may be built to allow for waste collection, or rear access for fire engines and parking.

United States

Alley in downtown Washington, D.C.

In the United States alleys exist in both older commercial and residential areas, for both service purposes and automobile access. In residential areas, primarily those built before 1950, alleys provide rear access to property where a garage was located, or where waste could be collected by service vehicles. A benefit of this was the location of these activities to the rear, less public side of a dwelling. Such alleys are typically roughly paved, but some may be dirt. By 1950 they had largely disappeared from development plans for new homes.

Chicago, Illinois has about 1,900 miles (3,100 km) of alleyways making it the largest network of alleyways in the world.[1] In 2007, the Chicago Department of Transportation started converting conventional alleys which were made out of asphalt, into so called Green Alleys. This program, called the Green Alley Program, is supposed to enable easier water runoff, as the alleyways in Chicago are not connected to the sewer system. With this program, the water will be able to seep through semipermeable concrete or asphalt in which a colony of fungi and bacteria will establish itself. The bacteria will help breakup oils before the water is absorbed into the ground. The lighter color of the pavement will also reflect more light, making the area next to the alley cooler.[2]

Other terms


Reduced usage of alleys can result in their decline. Under use, poor maintenance, poor night time illumination and narrow width may contribute to an increase in anti-social or illegal activities.

allee is a term used in contemporary landscape architecture to denote a narrow passageway, sometimes for pedestrians only, other times for both vehicles and pedestrians, that is lined with copious numbers of trees. The result is a peaceful, verdant place for strolling and sitting.

Use by automobiles

Many alleys, particularly 19th century ones, are wide enough to support automobile traffic. Such alleys are used in residential areas to gain access to garages that were built behind houses after the rise of the automobile. Others can be found in older industrial areas. Because alleys are narrow and often have only enough room for one vehicle to pass at a time, many alleys are one-way only. An alley serving the main entrance of residential, commercial, or industrial buildings, or carrying significant traffic, may be given a separate street name.

Other languages

"Alley" is of French origin, meaning "a way to go", and has been adapted in English as above. It is also used in parts of Europe such as Croatia and Serbia as a name for a boulevard, an avenue or a parkway (such as Bologna Alley in Zagreb). The Swedish word "allé" and the German word "Allee" refers to any type of road lined with trees (such as Karl-Marx-Allee in Berlin). Czech and some other Slavic languages use the term "ulička" instead[4], a diminutive form of "ulice", the word for street.

See also


  1. ^ Link text, Using alleys to fight heat, water runoff, Chicago Suntimes.
  2. ^ Conscious Choice
  3. ^ 'Putting SY on the wordmap', BBC, 22 August 2005
  4. ^ " Translation of "ulička"". Retrieved 2010-02-18. 

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ALLEY (from the Fr.1 allee, a walk), a narrow passageway between two buildings available only for foot passengers or hand-carts, sometimes entered only at one end and known as a "blind alley," or cul-de-sac. The name is also given to the long narrow enclosures where bowls or skittles are played.

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