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What is the history of Detroit, Michigan, USA?

People, Pictures, Old Postcards and Stories From the Past

Explore Detroit, Michigan, USA. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures and genealogy.
Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, USA

"Detroit, de-troit' (Fr. pron. dA'trwā', from the “strait” which constitutes the Detroit River), the metropolis of Michigan and seat of justice for Wayne co, is a port of entry very favorably situated at the head of that stream and the foot of Lake St. Clair, opposite Windsor, Walkerville, and Sandwich, in Canada, with a river front of about 9 miles and a total site of 30 square miles. Lat. of city hall, 42°19'51" N.; lon. 83° 2'54.6” W. The river, “ the Dardanelles of the New World,” is here half a mile to 3 miles wide, has no freshets, and makes an admirable harbor. There is ample steamer and other vessel service; 12 rail Ways, most of them trunk-lines, converge upon 3 union depots, and the city has an extensive system of tram-ways, partly equipped with electric motors. Its site is rather flat, but has good drainage and one of the finest water-services in the world. Electric lights are used upon tall towers, giving superb views from lake or land as the city is approached by night. The fire department includes about 20 steam- and chemical machines, and an alarm-telegraph, with a paid force of 300 men. The metropolitan police number about 400, with full apparatus of telephones, signal-boxes, patrol wagons, &c. Public schools occupy over 50 large buildings, and there is an unusual number of private and parochial schools, including the Detroit (Catholic) College, 2 colleges of medicine, and a law school. Streets are wide, partly on picturesque European plans, and superbly set with trees, and a handsomely improved boulevard surrounds the major part. Belle Isle, "the beautiful islet,” is a noble park, and there are many smaller public spaces in the city. Fort Wayne is a four-company garrisoned post at the southwest corner. The city is well built, largely of stone and brick, and mostly in separate homes, with no swarming tenement houses. Among public structures are a costly new government building, a fine city hall set with statues, a public library containing 100,000 volumes, sufficient market and other municipal edifices, a soldiers' monument designed by Randolph Rogers, a fountain given by the late Governor Bagley, 3 opera-houses, and a number of creditable hotels. The later and some older church buildings are noble examples of architecture. About 150 church societies and missions are organized, and Catholic, Episcopal, and Meth dist-Episcopal bishops reside here. Public, denominational, and private charities abound. A board of trade, chamber of commerce, and numerous exchange: have been formed. There are 15 state, 8 national, and several private banks, and 7 daily, 2 semi-weekly, 38 weekly, 6 semi-monthly, 20 monthly, 1 bi-monthly, and 3 quarterly periodicals. Commerce is enormous, and a greater tonnage passes annually than by any other port on the globe. Industries are exceedingly diversified, and bring large revenues. Much wealth is also still derived from the lumber business of the interior and the mines of the Upper Peninsula. Total valuation for taxation in 1892, $184,229,130; tax-rate, 16.63 mills. The death-rate rarely reaches 20 per 1000 of population. The site of Detroit was part of New France. It was settled as a trading and fortified post by Cadillac in 1701, became British in 1763, American in 1796, British again in 1812, and finally American in 1813. It is older than St. Petersburg, Philadelphia, or Baltimore, and has an interesting history and historic surrounding. It was the capital of Michigan Territory, and for a time of the state. Pop. in 1810, 770; in 1820, 1442; in 1830, 2222; in 1840, 9102; in 1850, 21,019; in 1860, 45,019; in 1870, 79,577; in 1880, 116,340; in 1884, 132,956; in 1890, 205,876; in 1892 (estimated), 260,000."

Lippincott's Gazetteer of the World: A Complete Pronouncing Gazetteer Or Geographical Dictionary of the World Containing Notices of Over One Hundred and Twenty-five Thousand Places ...
Joseph Thomas
January 1, 1895
J.B. Lippincott

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  • 1701 - French settlement established (Detroit)
    June 24 - Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, a 43-year-old French army officer, selects a site at le détroit (the straits) - the waterway between Lakes St....Read MORE...

  • 1760 - French surrender Detroit to British
    The French surrender Fort Pontchartrain to the British, ending French rule in Detroit. resources/state-history-timeline/ michigan.html

  • 1763 - Indians capture all forts in Michigan, except Detroit
    May 7 - During the Indian wars in the area, Pontiac leads a 135-day siege of Detroit. Indians capture all the forts in Michigan, except Detroit. resources/state-history-timeline/ michigan.html

  • 1796 - British evacuate Detroit
    July 11 - The British evacuate Detroit and abandon their posts on the Great Lakes. resources/state-history-timeline/ michigan.html

  • 1805 - Detroit becomes seat of Michigan Territory
    The Michigan Territory is created, with Detroit designated as the seat of government. William Hull is appointed as governor. Detroit is destroyed by f...Read MORE...

  • 1812 - Detroit surrendered to British
    Detroit and Fort Mackinac are surrendered to the British during the War of 1812. resources/state-history-timeline/ michigan.html

  • 1813 - Detroit recaptured by United States

    The World Almanac of the U.S.A, by Allan Carpenter and Carl Provorse, 1996

    DETROIT, May 10 – 9 A. M.

    Detroit was visited yesterday by the most destructive conflagration, yet known in its history. A fire broke out about hal...Read MORE...

  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Picturesque America: Or, the Land We Live In. A Delineation by Pen and Pencil of the Mountains, Rivers, Lakes... With Illustr. on Steel and Wood, by Eminent American Artists, Volume 1
    William C. Bryant
    Appleton, 1872

  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Glance at Detroit from the City Hall

    Picturesque America: Or, the Land We Live In. A Delineation by Pen and Pencil of the Mountains, Rivers, Lakes... With Illustr. on Steel and Wood, by Eminent American Artists, Volume 1
    William C....

  • 1862 - Vernors ginger ale was created in Detroit and became the first soda pop made in the United States.
    In 1862, pharmacist James Vernor was trying to create a new beverage when he was called away to serve our country in the Civil War. When he returned, ...Read MORE...

    From the Det. Advertiser and Tribune.

    Our city was visited Saturday morning by an appalling calamity. The propeller Nile, of Evans & Co.'s line of ...Read MORE...

  • News 1869 - A fire at Detroit a few days ago destroyed the Fulton Iron Works. Loss $50,000. Ten firemen were injured while attempting to subdue the flames.

    St Joseph Herald
    Saint Joseph, Michigan
    July 3, 1869

  • News 1869 - Detroit is the residence of an enterprising boy of six years, who can hardly speak, but has run away eight or ten times during the present year.
    Several times he has reached a distance of one hundred miles from home, and was sent back by conductors.
    St Joseph Herald
    Saint Joseph, Michigan
    October 30, 1869

  • 1879 - The first people in the nation to receive assigned phone numbers lived in Detroit. resources/ state-facts/ michigan.html


    Detroit...

  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Wa-Hoo Blood and Nerve Tonic
    Made in Detroit, MI

    The label boasts it to be "a positive cure for blood rheumatism, blood disorders, stomach troubles, liver and kidney complaint, sick headache, malaria, indigestion, dyspepsia, constipation,... Read MORE...

  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    G. Stammann
    One Price Clothing House
    Custom Clothes a Specialty
    62 & 64 Michigan Ave., Detroit, Mich.
  • News 1883 - Big Explosion at Detroit.
    DETROIT, May 21. - About 3 o'clock this afternoon, a terrific boiler explosion occurred at the New Wolverine paper mill, in the eastern part of this c...Read MORE...

  • News 1884 - A Serious Blaze in Detroit
    Detroit, Mich., Sept. 18. Fire broke out yesterday afternoon in Thomas Moore’s planing-mill on High street. Delbridge, Brooks & Fisher’s planning-mill...Read MORE...

  • News 1887 - Death In The Flames
    Detroit, Mich., Aug. 31. - The livery barn of J.H. COLES, No. 151 Gratiot Avenue, burned this morning with all its contents.

    George S. HALL, a farm...

  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Witch Hazel Leaves
    Parke, Davis & Co.
    Detroit, Mich., U.S.A.
  • News 1892 - A Millionaire Killed by a Fall.
    DETROIT, Mich., Sept. 23,- J. H. Wicks, a millionaire of New York city, and president of the Wick's Refrigerator Company, with headquarters at Rochest...Read MORE...

    ...Detroit, Feb. 9. - Dispatches received here indicate that the storm center for the southern peninsula of Michigan is in the southwestern portion, w...Read MORE...

  • News 1895 - THREE FIREMEN FATALLY HURT. A Freight Train Dashed Into a Hook and Ladder Truck.
    DETROIT, Mich., March 7. - A shocking accident occurred at the intersection of Canfield avenue and the railroad tracks early this morning. There had b...Read MORE...

  • News 1896 - June 4 – The Ford Quadricycle, the first Ford vehicle ever developed, is completed, eventually leading Henry Ford to build the empire that "put America on wheels".
    At approximately 4:00 a.m. on June 4, 1896, in the shed behind his home on Bagley Avenue in Detroit, Henry Ford unveils the "Quadricycle," the first a...Read MORE...

  • News 1896 - March 6 - Charles King test drives gasoline-powered automobile
    March 6 - Charles King of Detroit is the first person to test drive a gasoline-powered automobile in Michigan. resources/ state-history-timeline/ michigan.html
    March 6, 1896

  • News 1897 - DETROIT'S FIRE LOSS $700,000.

    Detroit, Oct. 7. - The fire which began in the Detroit Opera House this m...Read MORE...

  • News 1898 - SLAIN BY A FALLING ROOF - Its Collapse on a New Theatre In Detroit Buries Workmen. - OVER HALF A SCORE KILLED.
    Nearly Twenty Men Are Injured – The Roof Fell Without Warning and Buried the Workmen Beneath the Ruins – Not a Man Escaped Unwounded – The Building Wa...Read MORE...

  • 1899 - Ransom E. Olds established first automobile factory in Detroit webimage/ countrys/ namerica/ usstates/ mitimeln.htm

  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Woodward Ave., Detroit, Mich.
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Bird's Eye View East from Majestic Building, Detroit, Mich.
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Kapseals Ambodryl Hydrochloride
    Made in Detroit, Michigan

  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    The Aquarium, Belle Isle
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Gen. U.S. Grant Residence
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Jefferson Avenue, Looking East From Woodward Avenue, Detroit, Michigan.
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Looking East on Fort Street, Detroit, Mich.
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Capital Square Park - Griswold St., Detroit, Mich.
  • 1901 - Detroit - The Queen City by Silas Farmer
    "Here, beside the broad, blue river buflded, I am Queen City of the Lakes."

    A STREAM of crystal clearness, wide and swiftly flowing, the waters of ...Read MORE...

  • 1903 - June 16 - Ford Motor Company is incorporated in Detroit, Michigan

    June 16, 1903

  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    City Hall, 1905
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Hotel Pontchartrain
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Post Office, 1905
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Police Headquarters, 1909
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    The Casino, Belle Isle Park
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    City Hall Square
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Hotel Normandie
    Detroit Has Spectacular Fire Which Does $250,000 Damage to Michigan Central Railway.

    Detroit, Mich., Dec. 26.- A spectacular fire, starting from a ...Read MORE...

  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Ford Motor Plant - Shipping 1000 Cars a Day
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Washington Park and Fountain
  • 1916
    Detroit, de-troit' (Fr. Detroit, da'trwa', from the " strait" which constitutes the Detroit River), the metropolis of Michigan and seat of justice for...Read MORE...

  • 1920 - March 22-23 - A spectacular display of the Northern Lights at Detroit, Michigan, was described so brilliant as to blot out all stars below first magnitude.

    The Weather Channel

  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Entrance to Detroit River Tunnel
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    The Kresage Building
    Adams and Park Streets
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Detroit Leland Hotel
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Penobscot Building
  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Central High School, 1929
  • News 1930 - 2 KILLED AS FREIGHT ENGINE JUMPS TRACK - Open Switch Causes Wreck at Detroit
    DETROIT, Sept 28 (AP) - The brakeman and fireman of a Michigan Central freight train were killed instantly, and the engineer escaped injury by jumping...Read MORE...

  • News 1931 - October 4 – Dick Tracy, the comic strip detective character created by cartoonist Chester Gould, makes his debut appearance in the Detroit Mirror newspaper.
    October 4, 1931

  • 1934 - July 17 - One of the worst heat waves in the history of the nation commenced. During the last two weeks of the month extreme heat claimed 679 lives in Michigan, including 300 in Detroit alone.

    The Weather Channel

  • 1934 - The University of Detroit Stadium hosted the first broadcasted Thanksgiving Day football game in 1934, pitting the Detroit Lions against the Chicago Bears and sparking a new tradition.

  • 1939 - September 15 - The temperature at Detroit MI soared to 100 degrees to establish a record for September.

    The Weather Channel

  • Detroit, Michigan, USA
    Fisher Building
  • 1959 - Motown Records
    Berry Gordy, Jr. founds Motown Records in Detroit. resources/state-history-timeline/ michigan.html

  • 1967 - Racial Riots
    Riots erupt in Detroit amidst racial tensions. resources/state-history-timeline/ michigan.html

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Updated: 5/29/2019 9:32:52 AM

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