"Michigan" United States of America Things to Do Tip by traveldave

United States of America Things to Do: 953 reviews and 1,331 photos


Nickname: Great Lakes State; Land Area: 56,809 square miles (147,100 square kilometers); Population: 9,883,640; Capital: Lansing; Largest City: Detroit

The city of Detroit was founded in 1701 by French explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac as a place from which to ship furs to Canada. During its long history, the city was taken over from the French and controlled by the British, and then it eventually became American territory.

Detroit's fortunes began in 1903, when Henry Ford established the Ford Motor Company in the city. By 1905, Ford was mass producing cars and perfecting the assembly line. The success brought about by the automobile industry led to Detroit having the first paved concrete road in the nation in 1909, the country's first traffic light in 1915, and the first urban freeway in 1942.

During Detroit's boom years, blacks from the south immigrated to the city in search of good jobs and a better life. As a result, Detroit became a center for jazz and the blues. "Motown" was the nickname given to the city by black musicians who found success there.

Detroit's success was short-lived. Between the 1950s and 1980s, whites fled to the suburbs, and the city lost nearly 1,000,000 residents. The automobile industry suffered a downturn, leading to hyper-unemployment. Race riots in 1967 and recession in the 1970s almost killed the city.

Many of the buildings in the downtown area are boarded up and abandoned. Many buildings in other parts of the city have been burned and remain as burned out shells. Detroit has one of the nation's worst reputations for crime, violence, and urban decay.

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  • Updated Jul 20, 2012
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