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Detroit (Template:IPA-en[1]) is the largest city in the state of Michigan and the seat of Wayne County. Detroit is a major port city on the Detroit River, in Midwestern United States. It was founded on July 24, 1701, by the Frenchman Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac. Its name originates from the French word détroit (Template:IPA-fr) for strait,[2] in reference to its location on the river connecting the Great Lakes.

Known as the world's traditional automotive center,[3] "Detroit" is a metonym for the American automobile industry and an important source of popular music legacies celebrated by the city's two familiar nicknames, the Motor City and Motown.[4][5] Other nicknames emerged in the 20th century, including City of Champions beginning in the 1930s for its successes in individual and team sport,[6] Arsenal of Democracy (during World War II),[7] The D, D-Town, Hockeytown (a trademark owned by the city's NHL club, the Red Wings), Rock City (after the Kiss song "Detroit Rock City"), and The 3–1–3 (its telephone area code).[8][9]

In 2010, the city had a population of 713,777 and ranked as the 18th most populous city in the United States.[10][11] At its peak in 1950, the city was the fifth-largest in the U.S.A., but has since seen a major shift in its population to the suburbs. Between 2000 and 2010, the city's population declined by 25%.[11] Among major American cities during the decade, only New Orleans experienced a greater decrease by percentage.[11]

The name Detroit sometimes refers to the Metro Detroit area, a sprawling region with a population of 4,296,250 for the Metropolitan Statistical Area,[12] making it the U.S.A.'s eleventh-largest, and a population of 5,218,852 for the nine-county Combined Statistical Area as of the 2010 Census Bureau estimates.[13] The Detroit–Windsor area, a critical commercial link straddling the Canada–U.S. border, has a total population of about 5,700,000.[14]

History Edit

Main article: History of Detroit

The city name comes from the Detroit River (Template:Lang-fr), meaning the strait of Lake Erie, linking Lake Huron and Lake Erie; in the historical context, the strait included Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River.[15] Traveling up the Detroit River on the ship Le Griffon (owned by Cavelier de La Salle), Father Louis Hennepin noted the north bank of the river as an ideal location for a settlement.

There, in 1701, the French officer Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac, along with fifty-one additional French-Canadians, founded a settlement called Fort Ponchartrain du Détroit, naming it after the comte de Pontchartrain, Minister of Marine under Louis XIV. France offered free land to attract families to Detroit, which grew to 800 people in 1765, the largest city between Montreal and New Orleans.[16]

File:Ste Anne de Detroit.jpg

François Marie Picoté, sieur de Belestre (Montreal 1719–1793) was the last French military commander at Fort Detroit (1758–1760), surrendering the fort on November 29, 1760 to the British. The region's fur trade was an important economic activity. Detroit's city flag reflects this French heritage. (See Flag of Detroit, Michigan).[17]

During the French and Indian War (1760), British troops gained control and shortened the name to Detroit. Several tribes led by Chief Pontiac, an Ottawa leader, launched Pontiac's Rebellion (1763), including a siege of Fort Detroit. Partially in response to this, the British Royal Proclamation of 1763 included restrictions on white settlement in unceded Indian territories. Detroit passed to the United States under the Jay Treaty (1796). In 1805, fire destroyed most of the settlement. A river warehouse and brick chimneys of the wooden homes were the sole structures to survive.[18]

From 1805 to 1847, Detroit was the capital of Michigan. As the city expanded, the street layout plan developed by Augustus B. Woodward, Chief Justice of the Michigan Territory was followed. Detroit fell to British troops during the War of 1812 in the Siege of Detroit, was recaptured by the United States in 1813 and incorporated as a city in 1815.[17]

Prior to the American Civil War, the city's access to the Canadian border made it a key stop along the underground railroad.[19] Then a Lieutenant, the future president Ulysses S. Grant was stationed in the city. His dwelling is still at the Michigan State Fairgrounds. Because of this local sentiment, many Detroiters volunteered to fight during the American Civil War, including the 24th Michigan Infantry Regiment (part of the legendary Iron Brigade) which fought with distinction and suffered 82% casualties at Gettysburg in 1863. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying Thank God for Michigan! Following the death of President Abraham Lincoln, George Armstrong Custer delivered a eulogy to the thousands gathered near Campus Martius Park. Custer led the Michigan Brigade during the American Civil War and called them the Wolverines.[20]

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many of the city's Gilded Age mansions and buildings arose. Detroit was referred to as the Paris of the West for its architecture, and for Washington Boulevard, recently electrified by Thomas Edison.[17] Strategically located along the Great Lakes waterway, Detroit emerged as a transportation hub. The city had grown steadily from the 1830s with the rise of shipping, shipbuilding, and manufacturing industries. In 1896, a thriving carriage trade prompted Henry Ford to build his first automobile in a rented workshop on Mack Avenue.

File:Fordpiquetteplant.jpg

In 1903 Ford founded the Ford Motor Company. Ford's manufacturing—and those of automotive pioneers William C. Durant, the Dodge brothers, Packard, and Walter Chrysler—reinforced Detroit's status as the world's automotive capital; it also served to encourage truck manufacturers such as Rapid and Grabowsky.[17]

With the introduction of Prohibition, smugglers used the river as a major conduit for Canadian spirits, organized in large part by the notorious Purple Gang.[21] Strained racial relations were evident in the 1920s trial of Dr. Ossian Sweet, a black Detroit physician acquitted of murder. A man died when shots were fired from Ossian's house into a threatening mob who gathered to try to force him out of a predominantly white neighborhood.[22]

File:For Those Who Gave All....jpg

Labor strife climaxed in the 1930s when the United Auto Workers became involved in bitter disputes with Detroit's auto manufacturers. The labor activism of those years brought notoriety to union leaders such as Jimmy Hoffa and Walter Reuther. The 1940s saw the construction of the world's first urban depressed freeway, the Davison[23] and the industrial growth during World War II that led to Detroit's nickname as the Arsenal of Democracy.[24]

Industry spurred growth during the first half of the 20th century as the city drew tens of thousands of new residents, particularly workers from the Southern United States, to become the U.S.A.'s fourth largest. At the same time, tens of thousands of European immigrants poured into the city. Social tensions rose with the rapid pace of growth. The color blind promotion policies of the auto plants resulted in racial tension that erupted into a full-scale riot in 1943.[25]

Consolidation during the 1950s, especially in the automobile sector, increased competition for jobs. An extensive freeway system constructed in the 1950s and 1960s had facilitated commuting. The Twelfth Street riot in 1967, as well as court-ordered busing accelerated white flight from the city. Commensurate with the shift of population and jobs to its suburbs, the city's tax base eroded. In the years following, Detroit's population fell from a peak of roughly 1.8 million in 1950 to less than half that number today.[17]

File:Randolph Street Detroit.jpg

The gasoline crises of 1973 and 1979 impacted the U.S. auto industry as small cars from foreign makers made inroads. Heroin and crack cocaine use afflicted the city with the influence of Butch Jones, Maserati Rick, and the Chambers Brothers. Renaissance has been a perennial buzzword among city leaders, reinforced by the construction of the Renaissance Center in the late 1970s. This complex of skyscrapers, designed as a city within a city, together with other developments, slowed and eventually began to reverse the trend of businesses leaving Downtown Detroit by the late 1990s.[17][26][27]

File:RenCen.JPG

In 1980, Detroit hosted the Republican National Convention which nominated Ronald Reagan to a successful bid for President of the United States. By then, nearly three decades of inadequate policies and crime had caused areas like the Elmhurst block to decay.[17] During the 1980s, vacant structures were demolished to make way for redevelopment.[17]

In the 1990s, the city began to receive a revival with much of it centered in the Downtown, Midtown, and New Center areas. One Detroit Center (1993) arose on the city skyline. In the ensuing years, three casinos opened in Detroit: MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino, and Greektown Casino which debuted as resorts in 2007–08. New downtown stadiums were constructed for the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions in 2000 and 2002, respectively; this put the Lions' home stadium in the city proper for the first time since 1974. The city also saw the historic Book Cadillac Hotel and the Fort Shelby Hotel reopen for the first time in over 20 years.[26] The city hosted the 2005 MLB All-Star Game, 2006 Super Bowl XL, 2006 World Series, WrestleMania 23 in 2007 and the NCAA Final Four in April 2009 all of which prompted many improvements to the downtown area.

The city's riverfront is the focus of much development following the example of Windsor, Ontario which began its waterfront parkland conversion in the 1990s; in 2007, the first portions of the River Walk were laid, including miles of parks and fountains. This new urban development in Detroit is a mainstay in the city's plan to enhance its economy through tourism.[27] Along the river, developers are constructing upscale condominiums such as Watermark Detroit. Some city limit signs, particularly on the Dearborn border say "Welcome to Detroit, The Renaissance City Founded 1701."[9][26]

Geography Edit

Topography Edit

File:Large Detroit Landsat.jpg

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of Template:Convert; of this, Template:Convert is land and Template:Convert is water. Detroit is the principal city of the Metro Detroit and Southeast Michigan regions.

The highest elevation in the city is in the University District neighborhood in northwestern Detroit, west of Palmer Park, sitting at a height of Template:Convert. Detroit's lowest elevation is along its riverfront, sitting at a height of Template:Convert. Detroit completely encircles the cities of Hamtramck and Highland Park. On its northeast border are the communities of Grosse Pointe.

File:James Scott Fountain - Detroit skyline.jpg

The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is the only international wildlife preserve in North America, uniquely located in the heart of a major metropolitan area. The Refuge includes islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals, and waterfront lands along Template:Convert of the Detroit River and Western Lake Erie shoreline.

Three road systems cross the city: the original French template, radial avenues from a Washington, D.C.-inspired system, and true north–south roads from the Northwest Ordinance township system. The city is north of Windsor, Ontario. Detroit is the only major city along the U.S.–Canadian border in which one travels south in order to cross into Canada.

Detroit has four border crossings: the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit–Windsor Tunnel provide motor vehicle thoroughfares, with the Michigan Central Railway Tunnel providing railroad access to and from Canada. The fourth border crossing is the Detroit–Windsor Truck Ferry, located near the Windsor Salt Mine and Zug Island. Near Zug Island, the southwest part of the city sits atop a Template:Convert salt mine that is Template:Convert below the surface. The Detroit Salt Company mine has over Template:Convert of roads within.[28][29]


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