Detroit, Michigan

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Detroit, Michigan
Flag of Detroit, Michigan
Seal of Detroit, Michigan
Motto: Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus
("We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes" - this motto was adopted after the disastrous 1805 fire that devastated the city)
Nickname: "The Motor City" and "Motown"
Location of Detroit,  Michigan
Location in Wayne County, Michigan
July 24, 1701
County Wayne County
Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (Dem)
 - Total
 - Water

370.2 km² (142.9 mi²)
10.8 km² (4.2 mi²) 2.92% 
 - City (2000)
 - Density
 - Metropolitan

6,885.1/mi² or 2,647/km² 
Time zone Eastern (UTC –5)
WGS-84 (GPS)
 42.3316° N 83.0475° W
Official Website

Detroit (IPA: /dɪˈtʰɹɔɪt/) (French: Détroit, pronounced Image:ltspkr.png/detʀwa/) is a city in Wayne County in the state of Michigan, in the Midwest region of the United States. Established in 1701 by French fur traders, it is best known today as the world's automotive center and an important music capital — legacies celebrated by the city's two familiar nicknames, Motor City and Motown. Other nicknames include Mo-Town, D-town, and The D.

Located along the Detroit RiverFrench: Rivière du Détroit, i.e. "River of the Strait" — and across from the Canadian city of Windsor, Ontario, the city is the seat of Wayne County and the center of a tri-county industrial zone (including Oakland and Macomb counties) that is among the most significant in the American Rust Belt.

Detroit is the United States' 11th most populous city, with 900,198 residents, according to the United States Census Bureau's 2004 estimate.[1] This is half the population the city boasted at its peak in the 1950s. Detroit leads the nation in declining population of urban areas.[2] Residents are generally known as "Detroiters." "Detroit" is also sometimes used as shorthand for the Metro Detroit region, which is also unofficially referred to as "Southeast Michigan."



Main article: History of Detroit, Michigan
The Detroit skyline at night as seen from Canada.
The Detroit skyline at night as seen from Canada.

French officer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded a fort and settlement at the site of Detroit in 1701. Originally the settlement was called Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit after Louis Phélypeaux, the comte de Pontchartrain, minister of marine under Louis XIV and for the river that connects Lakes St. Clair and Erie. The British gained control of the area in 1760 and thwarted an Indian attack three years later during Pontiac's Rebellion. In 1796 Detroit and its surrounding areas passed to the United States, and from 1805 to 1847 the town was the territorial and state capitol of Michigan. Though Detroit fell to the British for a short time during the War of 1812 (see: Battle of Detroit), it was recaptured by Gen. William Henry Harrison in 1813. Detroit was incorporated as a city in 1815.

Situated strategically on a strait along the Great Lakes waterway, Detroit emerged as a key transportation center. The city grew steadily during the 1830s, and subsequent decades saw substantial growth in the shipping, shipbuilding, and manufacturing industries. A thriving carriage trade set the stage for the work of Henry Ford, who in 1896 built his first automobile. Ford's first plant was a rented workshop on Mack Avenue in Detroit; this was soon outgrown, and the first factory built and owned by Ford was constructed in 1904 on Piquette Avenue. The famous Model T Ford was conceived in this plant. By 1909, the Model T's success outstripped the Piquette plant's capabilities, and production was moved to Highland Park, an independent city within Detroit. Ford's manufacturing innovations as well as significant contributions from many other automotive pioneers such as William C. Durant, the Dodge brothers and Louis Chevrolet, solidified Detroit's status as the world's car capital, and the blossoming industry spurred the city's spectacular growth during the first half of the 20th century.

With the factories came high-profile labor strife, climaxing in the 1930s as the United Auto Workers initiated bitter battles with Detroit's auto manufacturers. The labor activism established during those years, which brought fame and notoriety to hometown union leaders such as Jimmy Hoffa and Walter Reuther, remains a key feature on the city's cultural and political landscape.

Detroit has endured a painful decline during the past several decades, and is often held up as a symbol of Rust Belt urban blight. The city's population has plummeted since the 1950s as residents have moved to the suburbs, particularly following the 12th Street Riot in 1967. Large numbers of buildings and homes were abandoned, with many remaining for years in states of decay. Recent urban renewal efforts have led to the demolition or renovation of several abandoned skyscrapers and large buildings, the razing of old houses for new housing developments, and an expedited process to remove abandoned homes near schools. Due to the large number of homes razed and the unprecedented population flight, large tracts of land in Detroit have reverted back to nature to become almost a form urban prairie. Wild animals heve been spotted migrating from their destroyed former habitat in the suburbs to downtown. [3]

During the latter half of the twentieth century, Detroit's crime figures were often among the highest in the country. Though those figures have decreased in recent years, the crime rate remains high.

"Renaissance" has been a perennial buzzword among generations of city leaders, particularly during the construction and completion of the Renaissance Center, but it was not until the 1990s that Detroit enjoyed something of a bona fide revival, much of it centered downtown. Nevertheless, it should be noted that one of the city's high schools is named Renaissance High School. In 1996 a state referendum paved the way for three Detroit casinos—MGM Detroit, Motor City Casino and Greektown Casino—with the goal of increasing tourism and stemming the flow of gambling dollars to nearby Windsor, Ontario.

In 2000, Comerica Park replaced historic Tiger Stadium as the home of the Detroit Tigers—a move that brought some controversy—and in 2002, Ford Field brought football's Detroit Lions back into Detroit from suburban Pontiac. The 2004 opening of the Compuware Center gave downtown Detroit its first significant new office building in a decade. Significant landmarks such as the Fox Theatre, Detroit Opera House and the Gem Theater have been restored and now host concerts, musicals, and plays. Many downtown centers such as Greektown, Eastern Market, the Michigan State Fairgrounds, and the new Campus Martius Park draw partons and host activities.


A simulated-color satellite image of Detroit taken on NASA's Landsat 7 satellite.
A simulated-color satellite image of Detroit taken on NASA's Landsat 7 satellite.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 370.2 km² (142.9 mi²). 359.4 km² (138.8 mi²) of it is land and 10.8 km² (4.2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 2.92% water.

Sitting atop a large salt mine [4], Detroit is located on the north bank of the Detroit River, between Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, in southeastern Michigan. It lies north of Windsor, Ontario—Detroiters sometimes quip that Canada is "our neighbor to the south." Detroit features two border crossings, the Ambassador Bridge, which is privately owned, and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, with a railroad tunnel also connecting the two countries.

Detroit completely encircles the cities of Hamtramck and Highland Park. It forms most of the northeast corner of Wayne County, but the extreme corner is occupied by Harper Woods and the four cities and one village that make up Grosse Pointe. Detroit itself is divided into the East Side and West Side, with Woodward Avenue being the dividing line between the two.

The two large bodies of water near the city are Lake St. Clair (northernmost) and Lake Erie. The city is crisscrossed by three systems of roads: the oldest French roads running perpendicular to the river, radial roads from a Washington, D.C.-inspired system and true north-south roads from the Northwest Ordinance township system.

Some of the current and historic neighborhoods in Detroit include: Black Bottom, Boston-Edison, Bricktown Brightmoor, Brush Park, Corktown, Chaldean Town, Cultural Center, Delray, East English Village, Eastern Market, Five Points, Greektown, Indian Village, Krainz Woods, Dexter-Linwood, Mexicantown, Midtown, New Center, Old Redford, Palmer Woods, Poletown, Riverdale, Rosedale Park, Springwells, Warrendale, and Rivertown.

Current and former public housing projects include Buffalo Homes, Brewster Douglass, Conant Gardens, Herman Gardens, Jeffries Homes, and Sojourner Truth Homes.



Throughout the city, French colonial influence can be found in many place names (Gratiot Ave., Beaubien St., Cadieux Rd., Chene Park), though only a small percentage of area residents are descended from 18th-century French settlers.

Detroit's population increased more than sixfold during the first half of the 20th century, thanks largely to a massive influx of Eastern European and Southern migrants—both white and black—who came to the area for the burgeoning automobile industry jobs.

Metro Detroit has a higher percentage of blacks than any other northern U.S. metropolitan area--about one quarter of the metropolitan population. Altogether, more than a million African-Americans live in the area. About three quarters of them live within the city limits. Other communities with large black populations include Inkster, Highland Park, Ecorse, River Rouge, Southfield, Pontiac and Oak Park. Metro Detroit is among the nation's most racially segregated regions.

Detroit's ethnic communities are diverse and include descendants of the French founders, as well as Germans, Poles, Irish, Italians and Greeks who settled during the city's early 20th-century industrial boom. Metro Detroit has the largest concentration of Belgians outside of Belgium. The Detroit area is also home to a large Chaldean population and to the country's largest concentration of Arab Americans. Chaldean-owned businesses are the retail life of the Detroit neighborhoods[5], owning some 90% of local convenience stores (called "party stores") within the city. The southwest side of the city contains a large Chicano community and the area has in recent years been renamed Mexicantown to reflect the large number of retail, restaurant, commecial and industrial properties owned by the Hispanic population.


City of Detroit
Population by year [6]
, [7]

1840 - 9,102
1850 - 21,019
1860 - 45,619
1870 - 79,577
1880 - 116,340
1890 - 205,876
1900 - 285,704
1910 - 465,766
1920 - 993,078
1930 - 1,568,662
1940 - 1,623,452
1950 - 1,849,568
1960 - 1,670,144
1970 - 1,511,482
1980 - 1,203,339
1990 - 1,027,974
2000 - 951,270
2005 - 899,387 (Est.)

As of the census2 of 2000, there are 951,270 people, 336,428 households, and 218,341 families residing in the city. The population density is 6,855.1/mi² (2,646.7/km²). There are 375,096 housing units at an average density of 2,703.0/mi² (1,043.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city is 81.55% Black or African American, 12.26% White, 0.33% Native American, 0.97% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.54% from other races, and 2.32% from two or more races. 4.96% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 336,428 households out of which 33.9% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 26.7% are married couples living together, 31.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 35.1% are non-families. 29.7% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.77 and the average family size is 3.45.

In the city the population is spread out with 31.1% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 31 years. For every 100 females there are 89.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 83.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $29,526, and the median income for a family is $33,853. Males have a median income of $33,381 versus $26,749 for females. The per capita income for the city is $14,717. 26.1% of the population and 21.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 34.5% of those under the age of 18 and 18.6% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Currently 47% of Detroiters are functionally illiterate.[8] Some 72% of all Detroit children are born to single unwed mothers.[9]

Law and government

The city is run by the mayor and a nine member city council, elected at large on a nonpartisan ballot. Municipal elections are held every year congruent to 1 modulo 4 (e.g., 1993, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2009).

In addition to property tax, the city levies an income tax of 2.65% on residents, 1.325% on non-residents, and 1.6% on corporations. The city has a looming budget deficit estimated at $214 to $400 million. Financial default or rising taxes is expected.


As with most large urban centers in the United States, Detroit consistently supports the U.S. Democratic Party in national and state elections. Its city elections are non-partisan, though mayors for the past four decades have been open about being members of the Democratic Party.

Considered by some to be a rising political star when he won election in 2001 at age 31, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been dubbed by wags as "America's hip-hop mayor" because of his fond appreciation for youth culture, flashy dress, and a diamond stud earring as well his sponsorship of a "hip-hop" summit.[10] Since taking office, however, the mayor and his administration have found themselves dogged by accusations of scandal and impropriety (including using city funds to buy his wife a Lincoln Navigator while the city was running a huge deficit). Detroit's major media have relentlessly pursued the stories, including reports of wild parties involving strippers at the mayoral mansion [11]. The mayor has strongly denied accusations of wrongdoing.

In 2004, following scandals and legal decisions, a court-ordered reorganization of the Detroit Police Department was implemented under the supervision of the FBI.


Listed as the second most dangerous city by the Morgan Quitno Corporation's statistics [12] (after Camden, New Jersey), Detroit has been one of the most crime-ridden cities in the United States. Many of these problems can be blamed on the widespread middle-class flight (which has contributed greatly to urban decay), poverty, de facto segregation of the region, and unemployment.

An analysis of crime in downtown Detroit by the Michigan Metropolitan Information Center at Wayne State University found crime rates in the central city lower than rates for the entire nation, state and other large Michigan metro areas — and improving. Detroit also includes many middle-class neighborhoods in which crime is far less prevalent than in more impoverished areas of the city.

Many of the suburbs, in contrast, are among the 25 safest cities in the United States with a population of 75,000 or above. They include Livonia, Troy, Farmington Hills, and Sterling Heights. All four are predominantly white (though some include sizeable black and Asian minorities) and boast much higher household income levels than the city of Detroit.

The city faces hundreds of arsons, often in the city's many abandoned homes, each year on Devil's Night, the evening before Halloween. The Angel's Night campaign, launched in the late 1990s, draws tens of thousands of volunteers to patrol the streets during Halloween week. The effort has largely squelched Devil's Night arson: In 2002, there were just 110 fires during the October 29–31 period, according to city officials, representing a 30 percent decline in total fires and a 41 percent decline in suspicious fires. In 2003, the three-day number was 117.

Sister cities

Detroit has several sister cities, including Chongqing (People's Republic of China), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Kitwe (Zambia), Minsk (Belarus), Nassau, Bahamas, Toyota (Japan), and Turin (Italy).


A United States Coast Guard Cutter passes the Renaissance Center, headquarters of General Motors.
A United States Coast Guard Cutter passes the Renaissance Center, headquarters of General Motors.

Detroit and its suburbs constitute a manufacturing powerhouse, most notably as home to the American automobile industry and the Big Three auto companies. General Motors is based in Detroit, Ford Motor Company in nearby Dearborn, and one of the two world headquarters for DaimlerChrysler in Auburn Hills (the other is in Stuttgart, Germany). Dotting the Detroit landscape are countless offices and plants in the automotive support business: parts, supplies, electronics, and design. It is not uncommon in Detroit to hear radio ads or to spy billboards in which multimillion-dollar auto corporations make insider sales pitches to one another. But there's a flip side to the automotive dominance: because of its almost singular dependence on the auto industry, Detroit is more acutely vulnerable to economic cycles than most large cities. According to one saying, "When the auto industry hiccups, Detroit coughs, and when the auto industry catches a cold, Detroit gets pneumonia."

Including the Big Three, there are seventeen Fortune 500 companies headquartered in metro Detroit, including Kmart Corporation, Borders Books and Music, Comerica Inc., Federal-Mogul, Kelly Services, and Lear Corporation. Metro Detroit is also home to the national pizza chains Domino's and Little Caesars. Other major industries include advertising, computer software and casino gambling.


Primary and secondary education

The city is served by the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) district. The student population was 147,800 during the 2003-04 school year and the district employed 19,620 people. DPS has not escaped many of the problems that other city sectors have encountered. In the early 1970s, the NAACP brought DPS to court seeking remedies for past de jure racial segregation. In a series of decisions beginning in September 1971, federal judge Stephen Roth ordered busing to desegregate the system, speeding up the white flight that had been on-going within the city. As of 2004, Detroit schools were 91% African-American.[13]

The school district continued a steady decline and, in the mid to late 1990s, was rocked by allegations of mismanagement by the School Board. In 1999, the Michigan legislature removed the locally elected board and replaced it with a board appointed by the mayor and governor, with the board selecting a CEO to run the schools. In 2005, after reports that the appointed board was no improvement, the elected board was reinstated following a city referendum.

DPS consists of 232 schools: 147 elementary, 31 middle, 28 high schools, ten adult education and four vocational education. In addition to the ten newly built schools (eight elementary, two middle), five area high schools have either been remodeled or have new buildings.

Higher education

Once the home of the University of Michigan, which was founded in Detroit in 1817 then later moved to Ann Arbor in 1837. Detroit has several universities and colleges within its borders, including: College for Creative Studies, Lewis College of Business, Marygrove College, Wayne State University, University of Detroit Mercy, Wayne County Community College, and the Detroit College of Law, now affiliated with Michigan State University.



Main article: Music of Detroit

Within the entertainment industry, Detroit is widely regarded as one the country's strongest markets—perhaps the strongest in per capita terms—particularly in live music and theater. In 2004, as in most previous years, DTE Energy Music Theater in nearby Clarkston, Michigan was the No. 1 summer concert venue in the United States in both attendance and box office gross, according to Pollstar and Billboard magazines. Sister arena The Palace of Auburn Hills typically ranks in the top three, often ahead of such high-profile venues as New York's Madison Square Garden. Music has been the dominant feature of Detroit's nightlife since the late 1940s, and both city and suburbs teem with live music venues.

One of the highlights of Detroit's musical history was the success of Motown Records during the 1960s and early 1970s. The label, founded in Detroit by Berry Gordy, Jr., and housed at the "Hitsville U.S.A." building on West Grand Blvd. until 1972, was home to some of the most popular recording acts in the world, including Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Four Tops, and Martha Reeves & the Vandellas. The city is also regarded as the quintessential Rock 'n Roll town, due to its receptive and enthusiastic rock music audiences. Notable 1970s and 1980s rock music performers hailing from the Detroit area include The Stooges, MC5, The Romantics, The Sillies, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, King Lizzard, Brownsville Station, Grand Funk Railroad, Bob Seger, and ? & the Mysterians.

In recent years, Detroit has assumed a kind of gritty, hip cachet around the world, thanks largely to such modern ambassadors as Aaliyah, Esham, the White Stripes, Insane Clown Posse, Eminem, The Von Bondies, Royce Da 5'9", Slum Village, the Electric Six, and Kid Rock. Detroit is also considered the birthplace of techno music—techno pioneers Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson established their names in Detroit, and techno progenitors Carl Craig and Richie Hawtin (aka Plastikman) built their reputations there as well. The city hosts a large electronic music festival in Hart Plaza each Spring.

Detroit is also home to several rappers such as Rock Bottom and Trick-Trick, D12, Tone-Tone, MC Breed, the late Blade Icewood, Malik a.k.a. Eddie Kane, G-Rock, Cash Out, Big Herk, The Dayton Family and Street Lordz are among the celebrities who have kept the diverse musical pipeline flowing. The city is home to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit Opera House. Major theaters include the Fox Theatre, Masonic Temple Theatre, Fisher Theatre, State Theatre, Music Hall, and the Detroit Repertory Theatre.

Museums, art & architecture

Downtown Detroit contains an eclectic combination of architectural styles: Art Deco buildings from the 1920s and 1930s are intermixed with more modern structures.
Downtown Detroit contains an eclectic combination of architectural styles: Art Deco buildings from the 1920s and 1930s are intermixed with more modern structures.

The Detroit Institute of Arts houses what is considered to be one of the most prominent American collections outside New York City, and features showcase pieces by Diego Rivera, Picasso and Van Gogh along with such hometown artists as Charles McGee. Other cultural centers include the Motown Historical Museum, Detroit Historical Museum, Museum of African American History, Detroit Science Center, Tuskegee Airmen Museum, Historic Fort Wayne (Detroit), Dossin Great Lakes Museum and the Belle Isle Conservatory.

Major parks include Belle Isle, Palmer Park, River Rouge Park, Chene Park and Campus Martius Park. Other city recreational facilities include municipal golf courses (William Rogell, Rouge, Belle Isle, Palmer Park), Northwest Activities Center, Detroit Zoo and the Belle Isle Aquarium. As of April 2005 the Aquarium and Zoo at Belle Isle are closed, though there is a movement to reopen them.

The most important civic sculpture in Detroit is the "Spirit of Detroit", which when it was installed in 1958 was the largest cast sculpture made since the Renaissance. The 16-foot tall bronze kneeling man holds a gold orb in one hand and a golden family in the other. The image is often used as a symbol of Detroit and the statue itself is occasionally dressed in sports uniforms to celebrate when a Detroit team is doing well. A memorial to Joe Louis at the intersection of Jefferson and Woodward Avenues was dedicated on October 16, 1986. The sculpture, commissioned by Sports Illustrated magazine and executed by Robert Graham, is a 24-foot-long arm with a fisted hand suspended by a 24-foot-high pyramidal framework.

A view looking south down Brush Street at the Renaissance Center (rear left) and the Wayne County Building (right). The giant decal on the Renaissance Center was installed for the 2005 MLB All-Star Game. It is 4,512 feet from the home plate in Comerica Park to the main tower of the Renaissance Center.
A view looking south down Brush Street at the Renaissance Center (rear left) and the Wayne County Building (right). The giant decal on the Renaissance Center was installed for the 2005 MLB All-Star Game. It is 4,512 feet from the home plate in Comerica Park to the main tower of the Renaissance Center.


Detroit has two major events that are assocaited with the automobile industry: the North American International Auto Show (January) and the Woodward Dream Cruise (August). A number of annual music events occur in the city, which are the Downtown Hoedown country music festival (May), DEMF/Movement/Fuse-In electronic music festival (May), Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival (September), and the Concert of Colors, a diverse summer music festival.

Other Detroit events include: the Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival (June–July), Comerica Tastefest (July), Detroit Thunder Fest hydroplane race (July), Detroit Fashion Week (August), Art on the Move, and the America's Thanksgiving Parade.


The major daily newspapers serving Detroit are the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News. Another Detroit publication is The Metro Times. Detroit is also home to the Michigan Chronicle, the state's largest African-American owned newspaper, and the Michigan Citizen, another publication that targets African-American readers.

The Detroit television market is the tenth largest in the United States. Most television stations broadcasting from Detroit have their studios in Southfield, which is also the site of transmission facilities of almost all Detroit-based stations. Stations broadcasting from Detroit include WJBK (Fox), WDIV-TV (NBC), WXYZ (ABC), and WWJ-TV (CBS). Other Detroit-based television stations include WDWB (The WB) and WKBD-TV (UPN). WTVS is the city's PBS member station. Detroiters also receive the broadcast signal from CBET, Channel 9, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation affiliate based in Windsor. Depending on the location, viewers can also receive the CTV network and French language channel CBEFT, which brodcasts from Sarnia, Ontario.

Detroit is also served by a variety of radio stations. The primary AM stations are WJR 760 (news-talk), WWJ 950 (news), CKLW (Canadian general talk) and WDFN 1130 (sports). Several FM stations include WNIC 100.3 (mix-genre), WRIF 101.1 (rock station), and WOMC 104.3 (oldies). WDET 101.9 and WUOM 91.7 (from Ann Arbor) are the area's NPR stations. Windsor radio stations CIMX 88.7 and CBC 89.9 can also be heard in the Detroit area.


Detroit is home to professional teams representing the four major sports in North America. All but one play within the city of Detroit (basketball's Detroit Pistons play in suburban Auburn Hills). There are three active major sports venues in the city: Comerica Park for baseball, Ford Field for football and Joe Louis Arena for ice hockey.

Club Sport League Stadium Logo
Detroit Tigers Baseball MLB Comerica Park Detroit Tigers logo
Detroit Lions Football NFL Ford Field Detroit Lions logo
Detroit Pistons Basketball NBA Palace of Auburn Hills Detroit Pistons logo
Detroit Red Wings Ice Hockey NHL Joe Louis Arena Detroit Red Wings logo
Detroit Shock Basketball WNBA Palace of Auburn Hills Detroit Shock logo
Detroit Demolition Football NWFA    

Like many industrial cities, Detroit is known for its avid fans, particularly in such blue-collar sports as football (Detroit Lions) and hockey (Detroit Red Wings). Detroit is perhaps the most fervent hockey hotbed in the United States. A Red Wings marketing campaign in the late 1990s launched the nickname Hockeytown, a city moniker subsequently embraced by local fans and national media.

In college sports, the University of Detroit Mercy has a NCAA Division I program, and Wayne State University has both NCAA Division I and II programs.

A world record was set on December 13, 2003, when the largest crowd in basketball history — 78,129 — packed Ford Field to watch the University of Kentucky defeat Michigan State University, 79–74.

Detroit is home to the Detroit International Marathon, which crosses the border into Canada via the Ambassador Bridge and returns to the United States through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. It is the world's only cross-national marathon. The city is also home to the APBA Gold Cup unlimited hydroplane boat race, which is held in Detroit each year since 1990. The race occurs on the Detroit River near Belle Isle.

Detroit was also the former home of a round of the Formula One World Championship, holding a race on the streets of downtown Detroit from 1982 until 1987, after which the sanction moved from Formula One to Indycars. CART continued downtown until 1992, when the race was moved to another temporary course on Belle Isle where the race remained through 2001.

Comerica Park hosted the 2005 MLB All Star Game in July 12, 2005, and Ford Field will host Super Bowl XL on February 5, 2006. Detroit made bids for the 1952 Olympic Games, 1956 Olympic Games, 1960 Olympic Games 1964 Olympic Games, 1968 Olympic Games, and the 1972 Olympic Games.

The NCAA football Motor City Bowl is held here each December.


Main article: Dances of Detroit

Detroit is known for many dance styles. The most notable being the Detroit Jit, a fast pace footwork dance stemming from the Jitterbug. The dance's original or "old school" form developed in the 1970s to funk music and was later recreated during the 1980s with faster footwork done to even faster music (Detroit Techno). Other styles include the Bisco, the Funkateer, and the Errol Flynn.


Besides its well-known nicknames, Detroit is also known as Day-twah (the French pronounciation), The Dirty-D, The Dirty-Dirty (now used as a nickname for "Dirty South"), D-Town , The 313, or The D to some locals.

Detroit is said to be home to the Nain Rouge, the red dwarf who is said to attack people and bring bad luck to the city.[14]

Founded in 1907 by two Russian immigrant brothers in Detroit, Faygo soda (universally referred to as "pop" in the Detroit area) remains a Detroit tradition, and is sold internationally. Detroit was also the birthplace of Vernors ginger ale, the oldest surviving soft drink in the United States. Detroit is also considered the birthplace of the Coney Island hot dog, a chili dog with onions and mustard.

Due to the large Polish population, the day before Ash Wednesday, or the festival of Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday is more frequently known locally as Pączki Day (though traditionally celebrated by Poles two days later on Fat Thursday). Many metro Detroiters join in the festivity by indulging in jelly-filled donuts called pączkis. The independent enclave of Hamtramck is noted for its pączkis and produces a large quantity of these delicacies on the holiday.



Detroit is home to three major medical systems: the Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, and the St. John's Health System. Detroit Receiving Hospital, Henry Ford Hospital, and St. John's Hospital are all Level I Trauma Centers. Detroit is considered to have some of the busiest emergency rooms in the United States. The Detroit Medical Center consists of Detroit Receiving Hospital and University Health Center, Children's Hospital of Michigan, Harper University Hospital, Hutzel Women's Hospital, Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, and the Karmanos Cancer Institute. It is staffed by physicians from Wayne State University School of Medicine which is the largest medical school in the United States. Henry Ford Hospital, Children's Hospital of Michigan and Harper University Hospital are consistently ranked by US News and World Report as some of the best hospitals in the United States.


Because of its gateway between the United States and Canada and its major industrial status — along with its major highways, rail connections and international airport — Detroit has been an important transportation hub.

Detroit is the crossroads for six major Interstate Highways, including I-94 (Edsel Ford Freeway), I-96 (Edward Jeffries Freeway), I-696 (Walter Reuther Freeway), I-275, and I-375 (Walter Chrysler Freeway). The city also has two international border crossings, the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, both linking Detroit to Windsor, Ontario on the Canadian side by crossing the Detroit River onto Ontario Highway 401.

Coleman A. Young International Airport is on Detroit's northeast side. As of 2005, the airport has no commercial passenger service, though it does have 24 hour operations and US Customs service. Until 2003, it was known as Detroit City Airport and was the area's primary commercial airport before 1946.

The main area airports lie in suburban Metro Detroit. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County International Airport (DTW), the Detroit area's principal airport, is located in nearby Romulus, Michigan and is a hub for Northwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines. As of 2004, DTW is the world's tenth busiest airport in terms of total air arrivals and departures, and nineteenth in terms of passenger traffic.

Willow Run Airport, west of DTW in western Wayne and eastern Washtenaw counties near Ypsilanti, was the area's commercial airport from 1946 until the airlines gradually moved operations to DTW in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It served as the primary manufacturing center for the B-24 Liberator during World War II; this and other area industries led to Detroit's WWII nickname as the Arsenal of Democracy.[15]

Mass transit within the city functions within two separate sphere's of influence. Transit services within the city are provided by the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT), which provides bus service that terminates at the suburbs' edges. Service in the suburbs is provided by Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART). Although SMART buses picks up passengers within Detroit, it cannot drop them off due to the exclusive jurisdiction the DDOT has over these routes. Combining the systems has been problematic and tainted by the racial politics that has affected all aspects of city-suburban relationships. In recent years, the Southeast Michigan Transportation Authority has been established with the goal of expanding and integrating the transit systems located in the Detroit Metro area. The Michigan Court of Appeals in 2005 determined that the authority lacks the ability to act under Michigan law; plans to integrate the systems are on hold.

Detroit also has a light rail system known as the People Mover, providing a 2.9 mile loop in the downtown area. Although criticized for its high costs and frequent breakdowns, the People Mover operates daily.

The city is also served by Amtrak with routes connecting to Chicago, Ann Arbor, and other Michigan destinations. The current rail facility, north of downtown replaced the still standing but neglected Michigan Central Station, west of downtown. Further away from downtown and abandoned at a time when crime was rising in the neighborhood, Amtrak vacated the building in 1984. Designed by the same architects who designed Grand Central Terminal in New York City and opened in 1913, the station's fate remains unknown.

Notable persons of Detroit

A sizable number of actors and actresses were born and/or raised in Detroit as well, among these are Tom Selleck, Charlton Heston, Sherilyn Fenn and Tim Allen (whose TV series Home Improvement was set in Detroit).

The auto industry has spawned its own cast of significant names, particularly such pioneers as Henry Ford, William C. Durant and the Dodge Brothers.

Detroit has been home to luminaries from virtually every major sport, including professional boxing (Joe Louis, for whom the Joe Louis Arena is named), baseball (Ty Cobb and Al Kaline of the Detroit Tigers), hockey (Gordie Howe and Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings), basketball (Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars of the Detroit Pistons) and football (Barry Sanders of the Detroit Lions).

A number of people have also made Detroit, and the Metro Detroit area, their home. Rosa Parks, the icon of the civil rights movement, called Detroit her home from 1957 until her death in 2005. The author and movie writer Elmore Leonard lived in Detroit and still calls the Metro Detroit area home.

See also

Further reading

  • Burton, Cadillac's Village: A History of the Settlement, 1701-1710, (Detroit, 1896).
  • Burton, The Building of Detroit, (1912).
  • Farmer, "Detroit" in Historic Towns of the Western States, (New York, 1901).
  • Farmer, The History of Detroit and Michigan, (Detroit, 1889).
  • Parkman, The Conspiracy of Pontiac, (Boston, 1867).

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