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Detroit 1
not set
Type Political Subdivision
Pronounced Pron. di-TROIT(American English)

Meaning & History

From the French word, meaning “strait.” The full name of the city’s phrase is “le détroit du Lac Érie,” meaning “the strait of Lake Erie.”
Added 1/13/2020 by nylonpanda

Detroit 2
Type Settlement
Pronounced Pron. DEE-TROYT(American English)

Meaning & History

From the French word, meaning “strait.” The full name of the city’s phrase is “le détroit du Lac Érie,” meaning “the strait of Lake Erie.”
Detroit, the largest city in the state of Michigan, was settled in 1701 by French colonists. It is the first European settlement above tidewater in North America. Founded as a New France fur trading post, it began to expand during the 19th century with American settlement around the Great Lakes.Detroit, the largest city in the state of Michigan, was settled in 1701 by French colonists. It is the first European settlement above tidewater in North America.3 Founded as a New France fur trading post, it began to expand during the 19th century with American settlement around the Great Lakes. By 1920, based on the booming auto industry and immigration, it became a world-class industrial powerhouse and the fourth-largest city in the United States. It held that standing through the mid-20th century.The site that was to become the city of Detroit was established on July 24, 1701 by Antoine de la mothe Cadillac, a French military leader and trader. Cadillac had traveled widely in New France and the western Great Lakes and was the commander of Fort Michilimackinac at the junction of Lakes Huron and Michigan.

In 1698, Cadillac returned to France to petition King Louis XIV for authorization to establish a French outpost along “le détroit” (the strait), the waterway connecting Lakes Erie and Huron. In 1700, Cadillac successfully persuaded the king’s minister of marine, Jérôme Phélypeaux Comte de Pontchartrain, to authorize an expedition to establish not a post, but a settlement. Cadillac hoped to forestall British attempts to occupy a nearby area, as well as start a colony that could survive on the rich soil and fur trapping opportunities of the region.

Cadillac’s entourage of soldiers, missionaries and colonists set out from Montreal on June 5, 1701. The expedition traveled by way of the Ottawa River, through Lake Nipissing, out down French River into Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and finally the Detroit River, stopping for the night on Grosse Ile on July 23rd.

The next day the flotilla of 25 boats returned upstream. They chose the narrowest part of the river, on a high point of the north shore, unfettered by any island and thereby easy to defend, as the site for Fort Pontchartrain, in honor of the French marine minister who approved their trip. The full name, Fort Pontchartrain du détroit, gave Detroit its name. Two days later, on July 26, Saint Anne’s Day, they begin building a chapel named in her honor, the first Ste. Anne’s Church. By September the first women arrived, Madame Cadillac and Madame Tonty, the wife of Cadillac’s first lieutenant.

Cadillac had the authority to appropriate and grant land to settlers. Beginning in 1707, he awarded farms that extended two or three miles inland and were laid out with narrow river frontage. These uniquely designed plots were known as “ribbon farms” some of whose boundaries are identified today by streets named for the original settlers.

Native Americans were encouraged to settle around the fort for mutual protection and to facilitate the fur trade. Cadillac even promoted intermarriage between French men and Native American women. However, the mix of tribes was not always peaceful and growth of the settlement was stunted by Cadillac’s unpopularity. When he was made governor of Louisiana in 1710 the attention of his sponsor, Pontchartrain, waned.

During the next 50 years, Detroit remained a small frontier settlement made up of soldiers, artisans, trappers, hunters, farmers and traders with an economy centered on fur trade and farming. The entire village, including the stockade, streets and buildings, occupied an area of only one city block, bordered by the present-day streets of Griswold, Fort, Shelby and Larned and was known as Fort Detroit, beginning in 1751. Detroit remained a French settlement until a British takeover in 1760, following the French and Indian War.

Detroit, city, seat of Wayne county, southeastern Michigan, U.S. It is located on the Detroit River (connecting Lakes Erie and St. Clair) opposite Windsor, Ontario, Canada. It was founded in 1701 by a French trader, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who built a fort on the river and named it Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit in honour of his patron (the French word détroit meaning “strait”); later the British called it simply Detroit. In the 20th century the city’s name became synonymous with the American automotive industry. Pop. (2000) 951,270; Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn Metro Division, 2,061,162; Detroit-Warren-Livonia Metro Area, 4,452,557; (2010) 713,777; Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn Metro Division, 1,820,584; Detroit-Warren-Livonia Metro Area, 4,296,250.Detroit is situated on a broad, generally flat plain. The downtown area retains vestiges of a hexagonal street pattern laid out early in the 19th century that largely disappeared as the city expanded. Most of the city’s commercial and civic buildings are concentrated in the downtown area near the river and include the City-County Building; Cobo Hall, a convention and exhibit building; Cobo Arena; and the Renaissance Center (completed in 1977), which includes a 73-story hotel. Many of the city’s museums and the public library, however, are located about 2 miles (3 km) to the northwest in the Detroit Cultural Center. Suburbs ring Detroit, and the city completely surrounds the communities of Hamtramck and Highland Park.Detroit’s population grew dramatically between 1850 and 1950. The city’s industrial growth was a magnet for migrants, at first chiefly European immigrants and later African Americans from the South. The population has declined steadily since the mid-1950s, however, in part because much of the white community moved to the suburbs and also because of the loss of industry. By the early 21st century, some four-fifths of the population was African American.Detroit has a diversified manufacturing and shipping base, but the city’s economy remains unusually sensitive to the fortunes of the automotive industry. As a result, economic booms and depressions have been felt more heavily in Detroit than in most areas of the country. In addition to motor vehicles and automotive parts, the city’s factories produce machinery (including industrial robots), steel, and chemicals. The service sector has become increasingly important.Roads dominate Detroit’s transportation system and include an extensive network of express highways. The Detroit People Mover, a light-rail system serving the central business district, was completed in 1987. It was originally intended to serve as part of a regional transit system. However, the required funding never materialized; few were willing to campaign for rail transit in a city that was tied so closely to the automobile, and the People Mover became little more than a curiosity for tourists. The city is connected to Windsor by a bridge and a tunnel. The Detroit River is heavily used by Great Lakes shipping, and the region’s port facilities handle large quantities of raw materials. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport is located about 17 miles (27 km) southwest of downtown.

The first Europeans to settle in Detroit were French country traders and colonists from the New Orleans (the La Louisiane) colony. They were joined by traders from Montreal and Quebec; all had to contend with the powerful Five Nations of the League of the Iroquois, who took control of the southern shores of Lakes Erie and Huron through the Beaver Wars of the 17th century, during which they conquered or pushed out lesser tribes.

The region grew initially based on the lucrative inland and Great Lakes connected fur trade, based on continuing relations with influential Native American chiefs and interpreters. The Crown's administration of New France offered free land to colonists to attract families to the region of Detroit. The population grew steadily, but more slowly than in private venture-funded Thirteen Colonies based closer to the Atlantic coast. The French had a smaller population base and attracted fewer families. During the French and Indian War (1756-1763), the French reinforced and improved Fort Detroit (1701) along the Detroit River between 1758–1760. It was subject to repeated attacks by British and colonial forces, strengthened by their Indian allies.

Fort Detroit was surrendered to the British on November 29, 1760, after the fall of Quebec. Control of the area, and all French territory east of the Mississippi River, were formally transferred to the Kingdom of Great Britain by the Treaty of Paris after the British defeated France in the Seven Years' War. The official census counted 2,000 people in Detroit in 1760, which dropped to 1,400 by 1773 due to the unattractiveness of living in the fledgling settlement.4 The city was in territory which the British restricted the colonists from settling in under Royal Proclamation of 1763. It was transferred to Quebec under the Quebec Act of 1774. By 1778 in a census taken during the American Revolution, population was up to 2,144. It was then the third-largest city in the Province of Quebec, after Montreal and Quebec.5

After 1773 a steady but growing trickle of European-American settlers took families across the barrier range, or through lower New York State into the Ohio Country—gradually spreading across present-day Ohio along the south shore of Lake Erie and around the bottom of Lake Huron. After the 1778 Sullivan Expedition broke the power of the Iroquois, the New York corridor joined the gaps of the Allegheny, Cumberland Narrows and Cumberland Gap as mountain passes, enabling settlers to pour west into the mid-west, even as the American Revolution wound down.

After the peace, a flood of settlers continued west, and Detroit reaped its share of population, established itself as a gateway to the west and the Great Lakes, and for a time outshone all other cities west of the mountains, save for New Orleans.

During the 19th century, Detroit grew into a thriving hub of commerce and industry. After a devastating fire in 1805, Augustus B. Woodward devised a street plan similar to Pierre Charles L'Enfant's design for Washington, D.C. Monumental avenues and traffic circles were planned to fan out in radial fashion from Campus Martius Park in the heart of the city. This was intended to ease traffic patterns and trees were planted along the boulevards and parks.6

The city expanded along Jefferson Avenue, with multiple manufacturing firms taking advantage of the transportation resources afforded by the river and a parallel rail line. In the late 19th century several Gilded Age mansions were built just east of Detroit's current downtown. Detroit was referred to by some as the Paris of the West for its architecture, and for Washington Boulevard, recently electrified by Thomas Edison.1 Throughout the 20th century, various skyscrapers were built centered on Detroit's downtown.

Following World War II, the auto industry boomed and suburban expansion took place. The Detroit metropolitan area developed as one of the larger geographic areas of the United States. Immigrants and migrants have contributed significantly to Detroit's economy and culture. Later in the century, industrial restructuring and trouble in the auto industry led to a dramatic decline in jobs and population. Since the 1990s, the city has gained increased revitalization. Many areas of the city are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and include National Historic Landmarks. The majority of the metropolitan population is located in the suburbs, and the city has had to adjust its role within the region.Hearths and geological features from the Holcombe beach site near Lake Saint Clair show that Paleo-Indian people settled in the area of Detroit as early as 11,000 years ago.7 Mound-builders lived in the area and mounds were noted at several locations in present-day Detroit, including at Fort Wayne and Springwells.

In the 17th century, the region was inhabited by the Huron, Odawa, Potawatomi and western nations of the Iroquois League.8 The first Europeans did not penetrate into the region and reach the straits of Detroit until French missionaries and traders worked their way around the Iroquois, with whom they were at war in the 1630s.9 In the late 1600s, raids led by the Five Nations of the Iroquois throughout the region drove out competing native peoples in order to control the fur trade. The French found their permanent villages to be abandoned when they decided to build a fort on the northern bank of the Detroit River.The first recorded mention of the site was in the 1670s, when French missionaries found a stone idol venerated by the Native Americans there and destroyed it with an axe. Early settlers planted twelve missionary pear trees "named for the twelve Apostles" on the grounds of what is now Waterworks Park.10

The city name comes from the Detroit River (French: le détroit du Lac Érie), 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.11 The sieur de Cadillac in 1698 proposed to his government in Paris that Detroit be established as a shelter for displaced Native American allies. Paris approved and in 1701 Cadillac led a party of 100 Frenchmen to establish a post called Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit, naming it after his sponsor the comte de Pontchartrain, Minister of Marine under Louis XIV. In 1704, he was given ownership over the strenuous opposition of officials in New France. An investigation by de Pontchartrain showed Cadillac was a tyrannical profiteer whose mischief hurt the French cause, so Cadillac was removed and sent to faraway New Orleans as governor of Louisiana.12

Ste. Anne de Détroit, founded 1701, is the second oldest continuously operating Catholic parish in the United States; it was the first building erected in Detroit.1

The main business was trading furs with the Native Americans, using goods supplied from Montreal.13 It was the largest French village between Montreal and New Orleans.14 Native American villages of rival tribes grew up near the fort which lead to the Fox Wars in the early 1700s.

Francois Marie Picoté, sieur de Belestre, the last French commander at Fort Detroit (1758–1760), surrendered on November 29, 1760 to the British. Control of the area was formally transferred to the British by the 1763 Treaty of Paris. New France was renamed Quebec and the settlement became Detroit. Grants of free land attracted families to Detroit, which grew to 800 people in 1765.

Demonstrating their independent power, several tribes in the region collaborated in Pontiac's Rebellion in 1763; they overran many smaller forts but could not subdue Detroit.Detroit was the goal of various American campaigns during the Revolutionary War, but logistical difficulties in the American frontier and American Indian allies of Great Britain would keep any armed Patriot force from reaching the Detroit area. In the 1783 Treaty of Paris, Great Britain ceded territory that included Detroit to the newly recognized United States, though in reality it remained under British control. Great Britain continued to trade with and defend her native allies in the area, and supplied local nations with weapons and supplies to raid American settlers and soldiers. The British left in 1796 following the Jay Treaty. In 1794, a Native American alliance, that had received some support and encouragement from the British, was decisively defeated by General Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers near Toledo, Ohio. Wayne negotiated the Treaty of Greenville (1795) with many of these nations, in which tribes ceded the area of Fort Detroit to the United States.

Father Gabriel Richard arrived at Ste. Anne's in 1796. He helped start the school which evolved into the University of Michigan, started primary schools for white boys and girls as well as for Native Americans, as a territorial representative to U.S. Congress helped establish a road-building project that connected Detroit and Chicago, and brought the first printing press to Michigan which printed the first Michigan newspaper.12 In 1805, fire destroyed most of the settlement. A river warehouse and brick chimneys of the wooden homes were the sole structures to survive.15 Detroit's motto and seal (as on the Flag) reflect this fire.Detroit was incorporated as a town by the legislature of the Northwest Territory at Chillicothe, Ohio, on January 18, 1802, effective February 1, 1802. Government was administered by a five-person board of trustees and there was no office of mayor. Following this, Ohio became a state and the eastern half of Michigan was attached to the Indiana Territory.Before the new territorial government officially began, a fire destroyed nearly all of Detroit on June 11, 1805. The Michigan Territory was established effective June 30, 1805, as a separate territory with Detroit as the capital. The newly appointed governor, William Hull, and the territorial judges (Augustus B. Woodward, Frederick Bates, James Witherell, and John Griffin), constituted the territorial government. They convinced the U.S. Congress to pass an act on April 21, 1806, which authorized them to lay out a town that included all of the old town of Detroit plus an additional 10,000 acres (40 km²) to be used as compensation for persons who lost their house in the fire.16

After the fire of 1805, Justice Augustus B. Woodward devised a plan similar to Pierre Charles L'Enfant's design for Washington, D.C. Detroit's monumental avenues and traffic circles fan out in a baroque styled radial fashion from Grand Circus Park in the heart of the city's theater district, which facilitates traffic patterns along the city's tree-lined boulevards and parks.6 Main thoroughfares radiate outward from the city center like spokes in a wheel.On September 13, 1806, the territorial government passed an act incorporating the new city of Detroit. The governor appointed Solomon Sibley as mayor. Shortly afterward, Sibley resigned and Elijah Brush was appointed in his stead. The mayor was appointed by the governor and, under the act of incorporation, was able to disapprove legislation passed by the popularly elected council without any recourse for overriding the mayor. Because of this, many felt that the real aim of the governor in incorporating the city was to remove the popularly elected town officers and exert a more direct influence over governance of the city.17 This form of government was extremely unpopular, and was repealed on February 4, 1809. However, to prevent resurrection of the popularly elected town government, on September 16, 1810, an act passed repealing all laws pertaining to Michigan that had been passed by the Legislature of the Northwest Territory. This effectively eradicated any trace of legitimacy for the former popularly elected town government.In the War of 1812, Governor Hull surrendered Detroit to a smaller British force supported by a larger force of Native American allies commanded by Tecumseh.18 The British commander, Isaac Brock, had bluffed the Americans into believing there were thousands of Native American warriors accompanying him. Tecumseh marched his native troops through a clearing and then circled the same troops through the clearing again to make it seem there was a much larger native force. Hull was convicted of cowardice and sentenced to death by a court martial, but received a presidential pardon. The U.S. Army recaptured Detroit in 1813 after the British abandoned it and used it as a base to invade Canada and permanently end the threat of Native American raids on American settlements.19 After the British abandoned Detroit, American forces caught up to the retreating British-Indian force, and decisively defeated them. Lewis Cass, as territorial governor, on October 24, 1815, restored control of local affairs to the people of Detroit, with the election of a five-person board of trustees and enactment of a charter for the city of Detroit.One piece of the Detroit narrative that is often exempt from the telling of history is that of slavery. Although Detroit, or the North in general, is often perceived to have been abolitionist and free of slavery, slavery indeed played a role in the city's history. Captive indigenous and African people contributed to the early development of the city. It is likely that slaves were among the first group that Cadillac brought to settle Detroit in 1701 and that their labor was used to plant the first crops. Slave labor was crucial for the city's construction, black slaves provided the labor for the fur trade, and indigenous women were exploited for sex.20

From Detroit's establishment to Michigan's gain of statehood, the ownership of slaves was dynamic. Slaveholders included merchants, farmers, political leaders, priests, and others who held power within the society.21

Partly due to the inadequate documentation, the story of slavery in Detroit is incomplete and unknown by many. There is nearly no record of the direct words of Detroit slaves, but there are some surviving records of slavery in the journals, wills, and finance accounts of slaveholders. Few scholarly works have been written about the role slavery played in Detroit, and Michigan has not produced any full-length narratives of slavery.
Government under the board of trustees continued until an act of the Territorial Legislature on August 5, 1824, created a Common Council of the City of Detroit. The Council consisted of five aldermen, the mayor, and the recorder. In an act of April 4, 1827, the number of aldermen increased to seven. In 1839, it increased to 14: two aldermen from six wards plus the mayor and recorder. A seventh ward was created in 1848, an eighth in 1849, and the ninth and tenth wards in 1857. Also in 1857, a new city charter provided that the mayor and recorder would no longer sit as members of the council. At this time, the council consisted of 20 members, two aldermen from ten wards. In 1873, a twelfth ward was added and aldermen from an illegally constituted eleventh ward also temporarily sat on the council. In 1875, a properly constituted eleventh ward and a thirteenth ward were added. The city charter of 1883 changed the name of the body to the Board of Aldermen. A few years earlier in 1881, a separately elected ten-person body named Board of Councilmen (also called the City Council), was established. This body was abolished in 1887.

After Detroit rebuilt in the early 19th century, a thriving community soon sprang up, and by the Civil War, over 45,000 people were living in the city,23 primarily spread along Jefferson Avenue to the east and Fort Street to the west. As in many major American cities, subsequent redevelopment of the central city through the next 150 years has eliminated all but a handful of the antebellum structures in Detroit. The oldest remaining structures are those built as private residences, including a group in the Corktown neighborhood and another set of houses strung along Jefferson Avenue — notably the Charles Trowbridge House (1826), (the oldest known structure in the city), the Joseph Campau House (1835), the Sibley House (1848), the Beaubien House (1851), and the Moross House (1855). Other extant pre-1860 structures include Fort Wayne (1849); Saints Peter and Paul Church (1848) and Mariner's Church (1849); and early commercial buildings such as those in the Randolph Street Commercial Buildings Historic District, for example.

The main communication medium from the 1830s until the rise of television in the 1950s was the newspaper. Detroit had a large variety of daily papers, meeting the needs of the political parties have different language groups in the city, as well as the needs of readers concerned with news of business, labor, agriculture, literature, local churches, and polite society.Prior to the American Civil War, the city's access to the Canada–US border made it a key stop for runaway slaves along the underground railroad.25 The Michigan Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in Detroit's Campus Martius Park commemorates the state's role in the American Civil War. Thousands of Detroiters formed volunteer regiments, including the 24th Michigan Volunteer 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 Lincoln's assassination, General 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.26

The Detroit race riot of 1863 occurred on March 6, 1863 and was the city's first such incident, as Irish and German Catholics resisted the mandatory draft laws. At the time, it was reported as "the bloodiest day that ever dawned upon Detroit."27 The casualties of the day included at least two people dead, and many others injured, mostly African-American, 35 buildings were burned to the ground, and a number of other buildings were damaged by fire.Detroit's central location in the Great Lakes Region has contributed to its status as a major center for commerce and global trade. As Detroit grew, it emerged as a U.S. transportation hub linking the Great Lakes system of waterways to the Erie Canal and to rail lines. Pharmaceutical firms such as Parke-Davis in the 1870s and the Frederick Stearns Company in the 1890s established centers between East Jefferson Avenue. Globe Tobacco built a manufacturing facility closer to downtown in 1888. During the late 19th century, cast-iron stove manufacturing became Detroit's top industry; by the 1890s, the city became known as the "Stove Capital of the World".29

The Chauncey Hurlbut Memorial Gate in 1894
The rise of manufacturing led to a new class of wealthy industrialists, entrepreneurs, and professionals. Some of these nouveau riche built along East Jefferson, resulting in structures such as the Thomas A. Parker House (1868), the Croul-Palms House (1881), the William H. Wells House (1889), the John N. Bagley House (1889), and the Frederick K. Stearns House (1902).

Detroit began increasingly to expand, and other citizens pushed north of downtown, building houses along Woodward in what was at the time a quiet residential area. The city has many restored historic Victorian structures, notably those in the Brush Park and East Ferry Avenue historic districts. The Elisha Taylor House (1870) and the Hudson-Evans House (1872) are both in Brush Park; the Col. Frank J. Hecker House (1888) and the Charles Lang Freer House (1887) are in the East Ferry Avenue neighborhood. Near the end of the 19th century, apartment living became more acceptable for affluent middle-class families, and upscale apartments, such as the Coronado Apartments (1894), the Verona Apartments (1894), the Palms Apartments (1903), the Davenport Apartments (1905) in the Cass-Davenport Historic District, and the Garden Court Apartments (1915) were constructed to meet the new demand.

These well-to-do late-19th-century residents also funded the construction of a spate of churches, such as the Cass Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church (1883), the First Presbyterian Church (1889), the Trinity Episcopal Church (1890) (built by James E. Scripps), and the First Unitarian Church (1890).Detroit has long been a city of immigrants, from the early French settlers in the 17th and 18th century, through the Irish emigrants who settled in the Corktown neighborhood in the 1840s, and the Germans who comprised the largest group. Significant contingents during this period included German and Polish immigrants who settled in Detroit in the 1860-1890s.

Conditions were especially favorable for the Irish Catholics. Vinyard finds that they enjoyed many opportunities and suffered "negligible religious prejudice." They were especially successful in politics, government service, dockyard and construction jobs, and built numerous churches. They funded the migration of relatives from Ireland. They took very active leadership roles in the Democratic Party and labor unions3031

European immigrants opened businesses and established communities. German immigrants established German-speaking churches, primarily on the east side of the city, including Saint John's-St. Luke's Evangelical Church (1872), St. Joseph Catholic Church (1873), and Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church (1875), as well as social clubs such as the Harmonie Club (1894) and west-side churches such as St. Boniface (1882) and Gethsemane Evangelical Lutheran Church (1891).

Close behind, a wave of Polish immigrants established east-side Roman Catholic parishes such as St. Albertus (1885), Sweetest Heart Of Mary (1893), St. Josaphat's (1901), St. Stanislaus (1911), and St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church (1923). The Poles also settled on the west side, founding West Side Dom Polski (1916). The son of Prussian Polish immigrants, Rev. John A. Lemke, born in Detroit on February 10, 1866, was the first American-born Roman Catholic priest of Polish descent to be ordained in America.32 He was baptised at St. Mary Roman Catholic Church (1843), at the corner of St. Antoine and Croghan (Monroe), on February 18, 1866, attended St. Albertus for his primary education, and studied at Detroit College which is now the University of Detroit Mercy where he received a bachelor's degree in 1884; then, after attending St. Mary's in Baltimore, he completed his theological studies at St. Francis Seminary in Monroe, Michigan, and he was ordained by the Bishop John Samuel Foley in 1889.32 The Catholics were especially energetic in building churches, schools, orphanages, hospitals and other charitable institutions.33

Nearly nine out of ten Detroiters in 1900 (87%) lived in single-family homes. European immigrants including German, Belgian, Polish, and Irish ethnics were likely to be home owners in the city. Most immigrants built their own home with the aid of their neighbors, or if still saving the purchase price they rented from fellow ethnics. They used an informal, localized, ethnically controlled housing market that was quite distinct from the professionally operated housing market. Homeownership in Detroit surged in the city's immigrant neighborhoods by 1900.34In 1887, John Pridgeon, Jr., a Democrat was elected mayor in a landslide after his Republican opponent endorsed prohibition in the heavily German city. Pridgeon's term was besmirched by multiple scandals involving the Common Council, city commissioners, grand jury investigations, and multiple indictments for bribery and graft. In 1889, Republicans recouped and called for "good government" by nominating a businessman with no political experience, Hazen S. Pingree after a colorful campaign in which Pingree revealed his tolerance by making a circuit of saloons. One of his early projects was simply paving the streets—only four streets were paved, and The Detroit Journal described the rest as "150 miles of rotting, rutted, lumpy, dilapidated paving." In hot weather some stretches oozed pitch and resin and occasionally caught fire from discarded cigar butts.35 Warning repeatedly against the dangers of government by the corporations, he launched nationally visible crusades against Detroit's streetcar, gas, electric, and telephone companies. He successfully forced rate reductions that won him widespread popularity. He won public approval for a citizen-owned electric light plant, and became a national spokesman for municipal ownership and close regulation of utilities and street railways. When the nationwide Panic of 1893 pushed the nation into a deep depression (1893–97), he won approval by opening empty lots to garden farming – people called them "Pingree's potato patches." He was a steadfast Republican, and had nothing to do with the Populist Party that had considerable support among labor union members. Pingree added to the old stock Yankee Republican base by making large inroads into the German, Polish and Canadian elements. He was reelected in 1891, 1893 and 1895. Pingree was one of the most influential American mayors in the 1890s – historians now rated him number 4 among all American mayors, and see him as one of the early leaders of the Progressive Era.36 He supported the gold standard in 1896, and worked hard to carry the city and state for William McKinley over silverite William Jennings Bryan in the intensely competitive 1896 presidential election. McKinley carried the city and state and Pingree was elected governor of Michigan.37

Henry Ford revolutionized the automobile industry when he virtually created the assembly line at his Highland Park Plant in 1910. His innovation transformed mass production and catalyzed Detroit's growth and industrialization. Around the start of the 20th century, entrepreneurs in the Detroit area capitalized on the already-existing machine tool and coach-building industry in the city to forge into the production of automobiles. Detroit's central geographic location and access to the Great Lakes and railways gave automobile producers easy access to capital and markets, making Detroit an ideal site for many automobile manufacturers’ headquarters. As Ford's rivals quickly adopted his manufacturing techniques, the automobile industry flourished and essentially elevated Detroit from a second-tier industrial city to a world-class city. Thus, Detroit earned its famous nickname, the Motor City.38At the turn of the 20th century, no one industry was dominant in Detroit. Early automotive production, which was still a relatively small industry at the time, is evidenced by structures such as the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant (1904) (a National Historic Landmark), and multiple structures in the surrounding Piquette Avenue Industrial Historic District (including the now-destroyed E-M-F/Studebaker Plant, 1906) and the New Amsterdam Historic District (including the original Cadillac factory, 1905) and small factories such as the Crescent Brass and Pin Company Building (1905). Then as automobile assembly and associated manufacturing came to dominate Detroit over the next thirty years, the newly minted automotive magnates built commercial and office buildings such as General Motors Building (1919), the General Motors Research Laboratory (1928), and the Fisher Building (1928).

In 1914, Ford revolutionized labor relations when he announced he would pay workers in his plants five dollars a day— about double the going rate at rival firms. In addition to attracting the best workers in Detroit, Ford's high wage policy effectively stopped the massive turnover rate, raised productivity, lowered overall labor costs and helped to propel the Model T to industry dominance.39 By the 1920s, however, Ford's formula of cheap cars with few options fell behind General Motors, which emphasized upscale quality and variety, and provided financing for car buyers. Labor relations in the automobile industry transformed again in 1935 when the United Auto Workers labor union was founded in Detroit.

The rapid growth of the automobile industry led to rising demands for labor. Immigrants from Europe initially filled much of the labor demand, but restrictive immigration acts in 1921 and 1924 caused a dramatic reduction in the supply of foreign-born workers to the United States.40 Meanwhile, the automobile industry was growing exponentially. Beginning during World War I, Ford began hiring African Americans to close the labor shortage. At this time, the hardships of life in the Jim Crow South and the promise of manufacturing jobs in the North brought African Americans to Detroit in large numbers in the Great Migration. This massive influx of workers and their families caused Detroit's population to soar from 265,000 to 1.5 million between 1900 and 1930 and pushed the city's boundaries outward. The population boom led to a severe housing shortage and the construction of public housing aimed at middle-class auto workers.41The rise of the automobile also required rethinking transportation within the city. The Chestnut Street-Grand Trunk Railroad bridge (1929) was a result of a grade separation that unsnarled train and automobile traffic. The Fort Street-Pleasant Street and Norfolk & Western Railroad Viaduct (1928) was a product of the same program, routing trucking traffic over the train traffic, and the West Jefferson Avenue-Rouge River Bridge (1922) allowed the Rouge River to be expanded for barge traffic.

Progressivism was energized starting in the 1890s by upper-middle-class men and women who felt a civic duty to uplift society by "freeing" it from the tyranny of corrupt politicians who worked hand in hand with unscrupulous saloonkeepers.42 The most prominent leader was Republican Mayor Hazen S. Pingree.43 A representative community leader was automaker Henry M. Leland of the Detroit Citizens League. Supported by Detroit's business, professional, and Protestant religious communities, the League campaigned for a new city charter, an anti-saloon ordinance, and the open shop whereby a worker could get a job even if he did not belong to a labor union.44

Reinhold Niebuhr, a German-American Protestant minister became nationally famous as a Detroit minister who attacked the KKK, which was strong among white Protestants in the city.45 In an era when Henry Ford was an American icon, Niebuhr attracted national attention by criticizing the auto industry. He preached the Social Gospel, attacking what he considered the brutalization and insecurity of Ford workers.46 Niebuhr had moved to the left and was troubled by the demoralizing effects of industrialism on workers. He became an outspoken critic of Ford and allowed union organizers to use his pulpit to expound their message of workers' rights. Niebuhr attacked poor conditions created by the assembly lines and erratic employment practices.47

Niebuhr rejected the prevailing optimism that prevailed in the 1920s. He wrote in his diary:We went through one of the big automobile factories to-day...The foundry interested me particularly. The heat was terrific. The men seemed weary. Here manual labor is a drudgery and toil is slavery. The men cannot possibly find any satisfaction in their work. They simply work to make a living. Their sweat and their dull pain are part of the price paid for the fine cars we all run. And most of us run the cars without knowing what price is being paid for them. ... We are all responsible. We all want the things which the factory produces and none of us is sensitive enough to care how much in human values the efficiency of the modern factory costs.48

The historian Ronald H. Stone thinks that Niebuhr never talked to the assembly line workers (many of his parishioners were skilled craftsmen) but projected feelings onto them after discussions with Rev. Samuel Marquis.49 As some studies of assembly line workers have shown, the work may have been dull, but workers had complex motivations and could find ways to make meaning of their experiences; many boasted about their jobs and tried hard to place their sons on the assembly line. Ford tried but failed to control work habits.

Sociologists who interviewed workers concluded that they were more interested in controlling their home lives than their work lives. The Ford solution was welfare capitalism, paying relatively high wages with added benefits, such as vacations and retirement, that reduced turnover and appealed primarily to family men. Link and Link conclude that by tying half a man's wages to the company's profit, Ford managers offered "a highly successful wage incentive plan that simultaneously increased job satisfaction and raised the productivity of labor."5051

Gilded AgeAt the beginning of the 20th century, historic Gilded Age areas such as Brush Park gave rise to even more upscale neighborhoods, including the Boston-Edison, Indian Village, and Palmer Woods. Woodward Avenue neighborhoods (such as the Warren-Prentis Historic District and the Willis-Selden Historic District) became mixed with apartments and commercial buildings. Many architecturally and historically significant churches and cathedrals arose during this period throughout the city's neighborhoods.

Automobile wealth along with educational & technological advancements led to a boom in downtown Detroit business, and the construction of a collection of early 20th century skyscrapers. The most notable of these are the Art Deco National Historic Landmark Guardian Building (1928) and The Fisher Building (1928). Many renowned architects including Albert Kahn, Wirt C. Rowland, and others designed and built a number of the cities skyscrapers and landmarks.

Shopping districts sprang up along Park Avenue, Broadway, and Woodward. In 1881, Joseph Lowthian Hudson opened a small men's clothing store in Detroit. After 10 years he had 8 stores in the midwest and was the most profitable clothing retailer in the country. In 1893, he began construction of J.L. Hudson Department Store at Gratiot and Farmer streets in Detroit. The store grew over the years and a 25-story tower was added in 1928. The final section was a 12-story addition in 1946, giving the entire complex 49 acres (20 ha) of floor space.

Multiple hotels were constructed, including the Fort Shelby Hotel (1916), the Detroit-Leland Hotel (1927), the Royal Palm Hotel (1924), and several others.

Extravagant movie palaces such as the Fox (1928) and the Palms (1925) entertained thousands every day. Public buildings, such as Orchestra Hall (1919), the Detroit Public Library (1921), and the Detroit Institute of Arts (1923) were inspired by the City Beautiful Movement.1

The development of the automobile industry did more than create a significant increase in Detroit's industrial production. It also changed the demographics of the city by attracting large waves of immigrants from Europe and Canada and black migrants from the South to fill the rising demands for labor. These people, who increased the city's population during the early 1900s, did not just affect the expanding automobile industry; they also transformed neighborhoods by defining certain areas and bringing jobs and money into the local community. Although many people began to pile into Detroit, Thomas Sugrue, author of "The Origins of the Urban Crisis," suggests, "Beginning in the 1920s--and certainly by the 1940s--class and race became more important than ethnicity as a guide to the city’s residential geography."

An early wave of immigrants came from Greece in the late 1890s; it peaked from 1910–14. These Greek peasants turned their understanding of supply and demand into thriving businesses as peddlers, grocers, and restaurateurs. Just as they lived in villages in Greece, so did they settle in a new "village" in Detroit known as Greektown. The Greek immigrants retained their native regionalism and factionalism by splitting their Detroit neighborhood into numerous sub-groups. With Americanization, however, the patriarchal culture diminished, although most families remained connected to the Greek Orthodox Church.

Like the Greeks, Italians began to settle in Detroit from 1890–1914. While most of these immigrants came from Europe and Canada, thereby blending in with the Caucasian residents already living in the city. Like American blacks, the Italian immigrants faced economic and social discrimination.

By 1914, Jews from Eastern Europe added to the already diverse demographics of Detroit. These new immigrants increased the established German Jewish community to about 34,000 people. Although the relationship between the wealthier, more Americanized German Jews and the poorer, less integrated immigrants tended to be a tense one, anti-Semitism was not an issue. Sugrue explains this by claiming, "Residents of Detroit’s white neighborhoods abandoned their ethnic affiliations and found a new identity in their whiteness" (Sugrue 22). Skin color, therefore, became more important than religious belief in the Americanization process.

African Americans—many of whom had migrated from the South to Detroit when jobs opened up during World War II—suffered the most. According to Sugrue, "Black Detroit in 1940 was large and rapidly growing" (Sugrue 23). The residents in Detroit's sizable "black ghetto" often found themselves in dilapidated houses that served as homes for multiple families. African Americans, who were spatially segregated from whites, lived in overcrowded and poorly maintained places like Paradise Valley (Sugrue 23–4, 36). As the community changed, only a handful managed to relocate to the northern part of the city near the Eight Mile/Wyoming area; a selected few succeeded in finding homes in Conant Gardens. Wherever the location, black neighborhoods remained crowded, a result of the Great Migration of blacks to the city.

The rise in the black population mirrored the overall increase in the population of Detroit. Between 1900 and 1930, the number of people in the city grew from 265,000 to more than 1.5 million residents. Polish immigrants contributed to this population surge, becoming in the 1930s a large immigrant group totaling more than 66,000.

The Depression, followed by World War II, further diversified the city. Because political situations made it difficult to leave Europe during this time period, most of the new arrivals to Detroit came from within the United States: whites from Appalachia and blacks from the rural South. Sugrue notes that African Americans comprised more than a quarter of the city's residents by 1960. After 1970, political tensions in the Middle East motivated Arabs, especially Palestinians, to also migrate to Detroit. These immigrants primarily relocated in Dearborn, an area that continues to remain an Arab center in the middle of Detroit.

Not only did Detroit increase in population during the twentieth century, but it also grew in geographic size. It expanded its borders exponentially by annexing all or part of the incorporated villages of Woodmere (1905), Delray (1905), Fairview (1907), St. Clair Heights (1918), and Warrendale (1925), as well as thousands of acres of land in the surrounding townships. Yet, areas such as Hamtramck and Highland Park maintained their status as legally separate cities within the larger metropolis of Detroit. Detroit, therefore, owes a great deal of its growth to the auto industry. The promise of jobs attracted immigrants from Europe, Asia, and the United States to settle in the Motor City. Originally defined by tightly knit ethnic clusters, the neighborhoods soon began to disperse. As Thomas Sugrue states, "Fewer and fewer white neighborhoods were ethnically homogeneous." Although Detroit remains a large urban center today, it has lost much of its diversity to the suburbs. As a result, the remaining citizens of Detroit—primarily blacks—now face social and economic challenges that prevent them from enjoying lives of quality.53Local politics from the 1870 to the 1910s had been influenced by ethnics, especially German Americans and Irish Catholics who controlled the Democratic Party. This changed after 1910 as the old-stock Protestant business leaders, especially from the automobile industry, led a Progressive Era crusade for efficiency, and elected their own men to office, typified by James J. Couzens (mayor, 1919–22, US Senator, 1922–36). The critical change took place in 1918 when the voters changed the Common Council from a 42-man body elected on a partisan basis from 21 wards, to a nine-man unit, elected on a non-partisan basis from the city at-large. The ethnics (especially the Germans) and the Democrats lost their political base.54 After 1930, however, the Democratic party rebuilt its strength, formed an alliance with the United Auto Workers union and restored the leadership of the ethnics, as typified by Frank Murphy (mayor 1930–33, governor 1937-39).55 Mayors Jerome Cavanagh (1962–70) and Roman Gribbs (1970-74) were the last of the white ethnic mayors, until 2014. The election of Coleman Young (1974–93) as mayor in 1974 brought to power a new generation of black leaders who represented the city's new majority.56

Most young women took jobs before marriage, then quit. Before the growth of high schools after 1900, most women left school after the 8th grade at about age 15. Ciani (2005) shows that type of work they did reflected their ethnicity and marital status. Black mothers were often day labors, usually as domestic servants, because other opportunities were limited. Most mothers receiving pensions were white and sought work only when necessary.57

Nursing became professionalized in the late 19th century, opening a new middle-class career for talented young women of all social backgrounds. The School of Nursing at Detroit's Harper Hospital, begun in 1884, was a national leader. Its graduates worked at the hospital and also in institutions, public health services, as private duty nurses, and volunteered for duty at military hospitals during the Spanish–American War and the two world wars.58

In the early 20th century, the middle-class women of the Detroit Federation of Women's Clubs' (DFWC) promoted civic mindedness within the context of traditional gender roles. Most of them were married to prominent business and professional leaders. Issues of public health, sanitation, and public safety were of vital concern to all families. The DFWC pressured city leaders to provide adequate education and sanitation facilities, safe food handling, and traffic safety. They did not form coalitions with working class or ethnic women, nor labor unions.59

World War II spurred the transition toward women holding a more active role in society. As more men enlisted, women were expected to take up their mantle in factories, defense industries and American businesses. In fact, an increasing number of women became their family's main breadwinner; social campaigns like the infamous "Rosie the Riveter" further reinforced the idea of an independent working women.60

Despite these circumstances, the stereotypical image of women in society was hard-pressed to change. Alhough women were granted more opportunities of employment, they were still continuously shut out of traditionally male-dominated roles, including metalwork, chemicals, tool-making, steel, and construction. This is ironic, considering Detroit was a production hub during the war—its many automotive factories were continuously churning out tanks, air crafts, and weapons. These gender-based restrictions limited the types of jobs women could hold, which led many women to work entry-level jobs in assembly lines where they were not expected, nor authorized to partake in more physical tasks. Because women could not participate in these more grueling tasks, employers used this as an excuse to under-pay them, and restrict their benefits. Women were still expected to be responsible for house-work and childcare, making it difficult for them to work the longer hours, and resulted in high rates of absenteeism, leaving them with an unsteady source of income.60 This created a vicious cycle, where women were simultaneously expected to take on the role of the "man of the house", while not being given the same opportunities males were. The on-going tug-of-war between country and family left many women in a limbo, where they could not safely rely on their work to afford supporting their children.

African American women were especially discriminated against on the basis of both their race and sex. Many firms and factories prioritized white women, leading to African American women working in more dangerous environments where they were often harassed by their white male co-workers. In 1943, out of the 50 war production plants in Detroit that hired women, only 19 allowed African American women to work. Due to these restrictions, only 20% of African American women had a job by 1950, leaving many of their families searching for domestic or short-term stints to afford housing and food.60

It is often said that women "gained more rights" during World War II. While it is true that women were encouraged to take a more proactive position in society, they were still faced with many barriers—especially women of color. It is difficult to raise an entire family with the number of job restrictions and lack of employment opportunities that women experienced. When their husbands and white men specifically, returned from war, they were often given their previously held employment positions, leaving newly-widowed women to search elsewhere for any work.After the 1928 presidential campaign of Catholic Al Smith, the Democrats mobilize large number of Polish and other Catholic ethnics to make their comeback. Although the election for mayor was nonpartisan, the Democrats rallied behind Judge Frank Murphy, who served as mayor 1930–33. The Great Depression was devastating for Detroit, as sales of automobiles plunged and there were large-scale layoffs at all industrial enterprises. Murphy insisted that no one would go hungry, and set up the Mayor's Unemployment Committee that set up relief soup kitchens and potato gardens.61 In 1933, Murphy resigned, and Frank Couzens was elected mayor, serving until 1938. He was the son of Republican U.S. Senator James Couzens, who had been mayor in 1919–22. In 1933, the city was in a financial crisis, as tax receipts had plunged and welfare spending had skyrocketed. The city had defaulted on its bond payments and had to use promissory notes (" script") to pay teachers, policemen and other employees. Couzens restored the city's financial credibility by cutting the debt and balancing the budget. He obtained large sums of federal relief money, and upgraded the street-lighting program and the sewage system.62

As Detroit become more industrialized, workers banded together to establish labor unions, such as the United Auto Workers in 1940. These unions settled wage, time, and benefit disputes with manufacturers. Though labor unions were less powerful than the manufacturers themselves, they shaped much of the development of Detroit's labor market, especially during World War II. Over 50% of Detroit's laborers belonged to a union by 1950, which in theory increased their image as "one unified body" from a manufacturer's perspective. With so many employees involved in unions, manufacturers were more prone to listening to their demands, which established a good working relationship between both parties, and led to "economic security and employment stability" for unionized laborers.63

Despite these benefits, however, labor unions were less beneficial toward people of color, especially African Americans. Their decisions often allowed, or even reinforced, discriminatory hiring practices by prioritizing white males compared to African American workers. They rarely vouched for African Americans in management positions, leading to most hired African Americans working entry-level positions for years.63 This created a long-standing falsified reputation of African Americans in the industrial sector: since few were given the opportunity to be in management positions, employers automatically—and wrongly—assumed they did not deserve to be.

Like most things, labor unions showcased both the positives and negatives of Detroit's history. They were created to grant more transparency between workers and their employers, but only reinforced the socio-economic divide between white workers and workers of color. Over time, however, the role of the union has become more diversified. In the later years of the Great Depression, unions like the United Auto Workers partnered with African American churches and civil rights organizations like the NAACP to integrate African American workers into the benefits that other workers already received. They increased African American membership, vouched for more civil rights in the workforce, and are a large reason for the increase in African American employment during World War II, when factories and manufacturers were in need of more workers.60 In fact, labor activism during the later 20th century increased influence of union leaders in the city such as Jimmy Hoffa of the Teamsters and Walter Reuther of the autoworkers.

The unionization process in autos was led by CIO organizers. The strongest response came not from semi-skilled assembly line men, but from the militant leadership of skilled tool and die makers of Irish ethnicity. They had been complacent during the late 1920s but reacted with extreme militancy to the hardships of the depression.64 Following the success of the sit down strikes at General Motors, non-unionized, semi-skilled workers followed suit in numerous plants in 1937. They were supported by the pro-union mood of the city, the New Deal's permissive political climate, and Governor Frank Murphy's pro-labor sympathies. They won many concessions and formed numerous locals outside the auto industry. Ford, however, successfully resisted unions until 1941.65The entry of the United States into World War II brought tremendous changes to the city. From 1942 to 1945, production of commercial automobiles in the city ceased entirely, as its factories were used instead to construct M5 tanks, jeeps, and B-24 bombers for the Allies. The Guardian Building was converted into a headquarters for wartime production.66 The city made a major contribution to the Allied war effort as part of America's Arsenal of Democracy. Historians note that this accolade was "easily and often corrupted to 'arsehole'" by tired Detroiters waiting in lines everywhere.67 The government believed that Detroit was vulnerable to air attack, and encouraged companies to diversify production to outside the region.68

The B-24 Liberator, the most produced bomber in history, was used to bomb Germany heavily. Before the war, the aviation industry could produce, optimally, one such plane a day at an aircraft plant. By 1943, Ford's plants managed to produce one B-24 an hour at a peak of 600 per month in 24-hour shifts. Many pilots slept on cots waiting for takeoff as the B-24 rolled off the assembly line at Ford's Willow Run facility.69

Detroit’s war-time manufacturing boom coincided with the decline of Southern agriculture, attracting hundreds of thousands of Southern Blacks to the city in search of economic security and freedom from racist Jim Crow laws.citation needed The ongoing draft pillaged Detroit’s industrial labor supply, leaving a labor shortage so dire that former auto plants had no choice but to hire Black workers. According to a 1944 report, “a 44% advance in wartime employment brought with it an advance of 103% in the total number of Negroes employed”. 70

As Detroit’s Black population continued to increase, housing options grew distressingly scarce.citation needed Unscrupulous landlords took advantage of the influx of Black workers and limited housing supply, gouging monthly rent prices in Black neighborhoods. In some cases, Black tenants paid “20 to 40 percent more for rent than whites in equivalent apartments”. 71 Spending the majority of their meager wages on rent, Blacks had no disposable income left to afford the upkeep and repair of their rental properties. Lacking maintenance, the decrepit homes of Black neighborhoods turned substandard: grossly congested, lacking water and ventilation, infested with vermin, and prone to fires. 72 White homeowners attributed Black poverty to “individual moral deficiencies”, strengthening their collective desire to preserve segregation. 73

President Roosevelt’s New Deal tried to alleviate the housing crisis by simultaneously subsidizing the construction of public housing and private, single-family homes. Working-class whites staunchly opposed public housing, claiming that it jeopardized the construction of new homes and disturbed the “racial and architectural homogeneity” of their neighborhoods.74 The anti public-housing movement appropriated World War II rhetoric to denounce public housing as a communist conspiracy, a catalyst of racial struggle that would “destroy traditional American values”.75 Too poor to join the cohorts of whites fleeing to racially-homogenous suburbs, working-class whites banded together to terrorize Blacks out of their neighborhoods.citation needed In 1941, the Detroit Housing Commission announced the construction of the Sojourner Truth housing project in the Seven-Mile Fenelon neighborhood. Months of protest by the Seven Mile-Fenelon Improvement Association climaxed on February 28, 1942, the day the first black families moved into the project. A vicious race riot resulted in 40 injuries and 220 arrests, the maj
Added 5/21/2021 by ROYALOAKMICHIGAN
Edited 5/21/2021 by ROYALOAKMICHIGAN