What You Need To Know
Detroit is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Michigan, the fourth-largest city in the Midwest and the largest city on the United States–Canada border. It is the seat of Wayne County, the most populous county in the state. The municipality of Detroit had a 2015 estimated population of 677,116, making it the 21st-most populous city in the United States. The metropolitan area, known as Metro Detroit, is home to 4.3 million people and lies at the heart of the Great Lakes Megalopolis area, with around 60 million people. Roughly one-half of Michigan’s population lives in Metro Detroit alone. The Detroit–Windsor area, a commercial link straddling the Canada–U.S. border, has a total population of about 5.7 million. Detroit is a major port on the Detroit River, a strait that connects the Great Lakes system to the Saint Lawrence Seaway. The Detroit Metropolitan Airport is among the most important hubs in the United States. The City of Detroit anchors the second-largest economic region in the Midwest, behind Chicago, and the thirteenth-largest in the United States. Detroit and its neighboring Canadian city Windsor are connected through a tunnel and various bridges, with the Ambassador Bridge being the busiest international crossing in North America. Detroit was founded on July 24, 1701 by the French explorer and adventurer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac and a party of settlers. During the 19th century, it became an important industrial hub at the center of the Great Lakes region. With expansion of the American automobile industry in the early 20th century, the Detroit area emerged as a significant metropolitan region within the United States. The city became the fourth-largest in the country for a period. In the 1950s and 1960s, suburban expansion continued with construction of a regional freeway system. A great portion of Detroit’s public transport was abandoned in favour of becoming an automotive city in the post-war period, which has gradually reversed since the 1970s. Due to industrial restructuring and loss of jobs in the auto industry, Detroit lost considerable population from the late 20th century to the present. Between 2000 and 2010 the city’s population fell by 25 percent, changing its ranking from the nation’s 10th-largest city to 18th. In 2010, the city had a population of 713,777, more than a 60 percent drop from a peak population of over 1.8 million at the 1950 census. This resulted from suburbanization, corruption, industrial restructuring and the decline of Detroit’s auto industry. In 2013, the state of Michigan declared a financial emergency for the city, which was successfully exited with all finances handed back to Detroit in December 2014. Following the shift of population and jobs to its suburbs, other states or nations, the city has focused on becoming the metropolitan region’s economic and cultural center. The erstwhile rapid growth of Detroit left a globally unique stock of architectural monuments and historic places of the first half of the 20th century, with many of them falling into disrepair or torn down since the 1960s. Conservation efforts managed to save many architectural pieces since the 2000s and allowed several large-scale revitalisations. Downtown Detroit has held an increased role as a cultural destination in the 21st century, with the restoration of several historic theatres and entertainment venues, highrise renovations, new sports stadiums, and a riverfront revitalization project. More recently, the population of Downtown Detroit, Midtown Detroit, and various other neighborhoods has increased. Some other neighborhoods remain distressed with abandonment of properties, partly revitalised by initiatives like Blight Busters, or renovated by new inhabitants for affordable housing and homesharing, like students and young entrepreneurs.
Population: Estimate 3.7 million.
Entertainment and performing arts
Several major corporations are based in the city, including three Fortune 500 companies. The most heavily represented sectors are manufacturing (particularly automotive), finance, technology, and health care. The most significant companies based in Detroit include: General Motors, Quicken Loans, Ally Financial, Compuware, Shinola, American Axle, Little Caesars, DTE Energy, Lowe Campbell Ewald, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and Rossetti Architects. About 80,500 people work in downtown Detroit, comprising one-fifth of the city’s employment base. Aside from the numerous Detroit-based companies listed above, downtown contains large offices for Comerica, Chrysler, HP Enterprise, Deloitte, Price water house Coopers, KPMG, and Ernst & Young. Ford Motor Company is located in the adjacent city of Dearborn. The Metropolitan Center for High Technology at Wayne University offers room for startup companies. Thousands more employees work in Midtown, north of the central business district. Midtown’s anchors are the city’s largest single employer Detroit Medical Center, Wayne State University, and the Henry Ford Health System in New Center. Midtown is also home to watchmaker Shinola and an array of small and startup companies. New Center bases TechTown, a research and business incubator hub that is part of the WSU system. Like downtown and Corktown, Midtown also has a fast-growing retailing and restaurant scene. A number of the city’s downtown employers are relatively new, as there has been a marked trend of companies moving from satellite suburbs around Metropolitan Detroit into the downtown core. Compuware completed its world headquarters in downtown in 2003. OnStar, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and HP Enterprise Services are located at the Renaissance Center. PricewaterhouseCoopers Plaza offices are adjacent to Ford Field, and Ernst & Young completed its office building at One Kennedy Square in 2006. Perhaps most prominently, in 2010, Quicken Loans, one of the largest mortgage lenders, relocated its world headquarters and 4,000 employees to downtown Detroit, consolidating its suburban offices. In July 2012, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office opened its Elijah J. McCoy Satellite Office in the Rivertown/Warehouse District as its first location outside Washington, D.C.’s metropolitan area. In April 2014, the Department of Labor reported the city’s unemployment rate at 14.5%. The city of Detroit and other private-public partnerships have attempted to catalyze the region’s growth by facilitating the building and historical rehabilitation of residential high-rises in the downtown, creating a zone that offers many business tax incentives, creating recreational spaces such as the Detroit RiverWalk, Campus Martius Park, Dequindre Cut Greenway, and Green Alleys in Midtown. The city itself has cleared sections of land while retaining a number of historically significant vacant buildings in order to spur redevelopment; though it has struggled with finances, the city issued bonds in 2008 to provide funding for ongoing work to demolish blighted properties. Two years earlier, downtown reported $1.3 billion in restorations and new developments which increased the number of construction jobs in the city. In the decade prior to 2006, downtown gained more than $15 billion in new investment from private and public sectors.
Within the city of Detroit, there are over a dozen major hospitals which include the Detroit Medical Center (DMC), Henry Ford Health System, St. John Health System, and the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center. The DMC, a regional Level I trauma center, consists of Detroit Receiving Hospital and University Health Center, Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Harper University Hospital, Hutzel Women’s Hospital, Kresge Eye Institute, Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, Sinai-Grace Hospital, and the Karmanos Cancer Institute. The DMC has more than 2,000 licensed beds and 3,000 affiliated physicians. It is the largest private employer in the City of Detroit. The center is staffed by physicians from the Wayne State University School of Medicine, the largest single-campus medical school in the United States, and the United States’ fourth largest medical school overall. Detroit Medical Center formally became a part of Vanguard Health Systems on December 30, 2010, as a for profit corporation. Vanguard has agreed to invest nearly $1.5 B in the Detroit Medical Center complex which will include $417 M to retire debts, at least $350 M in capital expenditures and an additional $500 M for new capital investment. Vanguard has agreed to assume all debts and pension obligations. The metro area has many other hospitals including William Beaumont Hospital, St. Joseph’s, and University of Michigan Medical Center. In 2011, Detroit Medical Center and Henry Ford Health System substantially increased investments in medical research facilities and hospitals in the city’s Midtown and New Center. In 2012, two major construction projects were begun in New Center, the Henry Ford Health System started the first phase of a $500 million, 300-acre revitalization project, with the construction of a new $30 million, 275,000-square-foot, Medical Distribution Center for Cardinal Health, Inc. and Wayne State University started construction on a new $93 million, 207,000-square-foot, Integrative Biosciences Center (IBio). As many as 500 researchers, and staff will work out of the IBio Center.
English is the official language.
Live music has been a prominent feature of Detroit’s nightlife since the late 1940s, bringing the city recognition under the nickname ‘Motown’. The metropolitan area has many nationally prominent live music venues. Concerts hosted by Live Nation perform throughout the Detroit area. Large concerts are held at DTE Energy Music Theatre and The Palace of Auburn Hills. The city’s theatre venue circuit is the United States’ second largest and hosts Broadway performances. The city of Detroit has a rich musical heritage and has contributed to a number of different genres over the decades leading into the new millennium. Important music events in the city include: the Detroit International Jazz Festival, the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, the Motor City Music Conference (MC2), the Urban Organic Music Conference, the Concert of Colors, and the hip-hop Summer Jamz festival. In the 1940s, Detroit blues artist John Lee Hooker became a long-term resident in the city’s southwest Delray neighborhood. Hooker, among other important blues musicians migrated from his home in Mississippi bringing the Delta blues to northern cities like Detroit. Hooker recorded for Fortune Records, the biggest pre-Motown blues/soul label. During the 1950s, the city became a center for jazz, with stars performing in the Black Bottom neighborhood. Prominent emerging Jazz musicians of the 1960s included: trumpet player Donald Byrd who attended Cass Tech and performed with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers early in his career and Saxophonist Pepper Adams who enjoyed a solo career and accompanied Byrd on several albums. The Graystone International Jazz Museum documents jazz in Detroit. Other, prominent Motor City R&B stars in the 1950s and early 1960s was Nolan Strong, Andre Williams and Nathaniel Mayer – who all scored local and national hits on the Fortune Records label. According to Smokey Robinson, Strong was a primary influence on his voice as a teenager. The Fortune label was a family-operated label located on Third Avenue in Detroit, and was owned by the husband and wife team of Jack Brown and Devora Brown. Fortune, which also released country, gospel and rockabilly LPs and 45s, laid the groundwork for Motown, which became Detroit’s most legendary record label. The MGM Grand Detroit, one of Detroit’s three casino resorts and the 16th largest employer in the city Berry Gordy, Jr. founded Motown Records which rose to prominence during the 1960s and early 1970s with acts such as Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Diana Ross & The Supremes, the Jackson 5, Martha and the Vandellas, The Spinners, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The Marvelettes, The Elgins, The Monitors, The Velvelettes and Marvin Gaye. Artists were backed by in-house vocalists The Andantes and The Funk Brothers, the Motown house band that was featured in Paul Justman’s 2002 documentary film Standing in the Shadows of Motown, based on Allan Slutsky’s book of the same name. The Motown Sound played an important role in the crossover appeal with popular music, since it was the first African American owned record label to primarily feature African-American artists. Gordy moved Motown to Los Angeles in 1972 to pursue film production, but the company has since returned to Detroit. Aretha Franklin, another Detroit R&B star, carried the Motown Sound; however, she did not record with Berry’s Motown Label. Local artists and bands rose to prominence in the 1960s and 70s including: the MC5, The Stooges, Bob Seger, Amboy Dukes featuring Ted Nugent, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, Rare Earth, Alice Cooper, and Suzi Quatro. The group Kiss emphasized the city’s connection with rock in the song Detroit Rock City and the movie produced in 1999. In the 1980s, Detroit was an important center of the hardcore punk rock underground with many nationally known bands coming out of the city and its suburbs, such as The Necros, The Meatmen, and Negative Approach. In the 1990s and the new millennium, the city has produced a number of influential hip hop artists, including Eminem, the hip-hop artist with the highest cumulative sales, hip-hop producer J Dilla, rapper and producer Esham and hip hop duo Insane Clown Posse. The city is also home to rappers Big Sean and Danny Brown. The band Sponge toured and produced music, with artists such as Kid Rock and Uncle Kracker. The city also has an active garage rock genre that has generated national attention with acts such as: The White Stripes, The Von Bondies, The Detroit Cobras, The Dirtbombs, Electric Six, and The Hard Lessons. Detroit is cited as the birthplace of techno music in the early 1980s. The city also lends its name to an early and pioneering genre of electronic dance music, “Detroit techno”. Featuring science fiction imagery and robotic themes, its futuristic style was greatly influenced by the geography of Detroit’s urban decline and its industrial past. Prominent Detroit techno artists include Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, and Jeff Mills. The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, now known as “Movement”, occurs annually in late May on Memorial Day Weekend, and takes place in Hart Plaza. In the early years (2000–2002), this was a landmark event, boasting over a million estimated attendees annually, coming from all over the world to celebrate Techno music in the city of its birth.
With its proximity to Canada and its facilities, ports, major highways, rail connections and international airports, Detroit is an important transportation hub. The city has three international border crossings, the Ambassador Bridge, Detroit–Windsor Tunnel and Michigan Central Railway Tunnel, linking Detroit to Windsor, Ontario. The Ambassador Bridge is the single busiest border crossing in North America, carrying 27% of the total trade between the U.S. and Canada. On February 18, 2015, Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt announced that Canada has agreed to pay the entire cost to build a $250 million U.S. Customs plaza adjacent to the planned new Detroit–Windsor bridge, now the Gordie Howe International Bridge. Canada had already planned to pay for 95 per cent of the bridge, which will cost $2.1 billion, and is expected to open in 2020. “This allows Canada and Michigan to move the project forward immediately to its next steps which include further design work and property acquisition on the U.S. side of the border,” Raitt said in a statement issued after she spoke in the House of Commons.
Many of the area’s prominent museums are located in the historic cultural center neighborhood around Wayne State University and the College for Creative Studies. These museums include the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Historical Museum, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Detroit Science Center, as well as the main branch of the Detroit Public Library. Other cultural highlights include Motown Historical Museum, the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant museum (birthplace of the Ford Model T and the world’s oldest car factory building open to the public), the Pewabic Pottery studio and school, the Tuskegee Airmen Museum, Fort Wayne, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (CAID), and the Belle Isle Conservatory. In 2010, the G.R. N’Namdi Gallery opened in a 16,000-square-foot (1,500 m2) complex in Midtown. Important history of America and the Detroit area are exhibited at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, the United States’ largest indoor-outdoor museum complex. The Detroit Historical Society provides information about tours of area churches, skyscrapers, and mansions. Inside Detroit, meanwhile, hosts tours, educational programming, and a downtown welcome center. Other sites of interest are the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak, the Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle, and Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills. Eastern Market The city’s Greektown and three downtown casino resort hotels serve as part of an entertainment hub. The Eastern Market farmer’s distribution center is the largest open-air flowerbed market in the United States and has more than 150 foods and specialty businesses. On Saturdays, about 45,000 people shop the city’s historic Eastern Market. The Midtown and the New Center area are centered on Wayne State University and Henry Ford Hospital. Midtown has about 50,000 residents and attracts millions of visitors each year to its museums and cultural centers; for example, the Detroit Festival of the Arts in Midtown draws about 350,000 people. Annual summer events include the Electronic Music Festival, International Jazz Festival, the Woodward Dream Cruise, the African World Festival, the country music Hoedown, Noel Night, and Dally in the Alley. Within downtown, Campus Martius Park hosts large events, including the annual Motown Winter Blast. As the world’s traditional automotive center, the city hosts the North American International Auto Show. Held since 1924, America’s Thanksgiving Parade is one of the nation’s largest. River Days, a five-day summer festival on the International Riverfront lead up to the Windsor–Detroit International Freedom Festival fireworks, which draw super sized-crowds ranging from hundreds of thousands to over three million people. An important civic sculpture in Detroit is “The Spirit of Detroit” by Marshall Fredericks at the Coleman Young Municipal Center. The image is often used as a symbol of Detroit and the statue itself is occasionally dressed in sports jerseys 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 and executed by Robert Graham, is a 24-foot (7.3 m) long arm with a fisted hand suspended by a pyramidal framework. Artist Tyree Guyton created the controversial street art exhibit known as the Heidelberg Project in 1986, using found objects including cars, clothing and shoes found in the neighborhood near and on Heidelberg Street on the near East Side of Detroit. Guyton continues to work with neighborhood residents and tourists in constantly evolving the neighborhood-wide art installation.
Detroit and the rest of southeastern Michigan have a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa) which is influenced by the Great Lakes; the city and close-in suburbs are part of USDA Hardiness zone 6b, with farther-out northern and western suburbs generally falling in zone 6a. Winters are cold, with moderate snowfall and temperatures not rising above freezing on an average 44 days annually, while dropping to or below 0 °F (−18 °C) on an average 4.4 days a year; summers are warm to hot with temperatures exceeding 90 °F (32 °C) on 12 days. The warm season runs from May to September. The monthly daily mean temperature ranges from 25.6 °F (−3.6 °C) in January to 73.6 °F (23.1 °C) in July. Official temperature extremes range from 105 °F (41 °C) on July 24, 1934 down to −21 °F (−29 °C) on January 21, 1984; the record low maximum is −5 °F (−21 °C) on January 19, 1994, while, conversely the record high minimum is 80 °F (27 °C) on August 1, 2006, the most recent of five occurrences. A decade or two may pass between readings of 100 °F (38 °C) or higher, which last occurred July 17, 2012. The average window for freezing temperatures is October 20 thru April 22, allowing a growing season of 180 days. Precipitation is moderate and somewhat evenly distributed throughout the year, although the warmer months such as May and June average more, averaging 33.5 inches (850 mm) annually, but historically ranging from 20.49 in (520 mm) in 1963 to 47.70 in (1,212 mm) in 2011. Snowfall, which typically falls in measurable amounts between November 15 through April 4 (occasionally in October and very rarely in May), averages 42.5 inches (108 cm) per season, although historically ranging from 11.5 in (29 cm) in 1881–82 to 94.9 in (241 cm) in 2013–14. A thick snowpack is not often seen, with an average of only 27.5 days with 3 in (7.6 cm) or more of snow cover. Thunderstorms are frequent in the Detroit area. These usually occur during spring and summer