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The service alley is an artifact of an earlier time with a different set of practical needs. Many cities, no longer seeing the costs of alley maintenance as worth the benefit, have simply let them become grown over. Others have de-platted them, striking a new property line down the center and giving the land to the adjacent property owners. In 1978, Grady Clay authored a document entitled Alleys: A Hidden Resource, in an effort to halt the demolition of St. Louis' alleys. In it he wrote, “Out of sight and out of mind, the American residential alley has been the academic, geographic and social outcast of the built environment for at least half a century...The literature on alleys is rudimentary, to say the least, and it is now time to consider what the alley is, and what it might become - a hidden resource waiting to be recognized.”

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