Industrial city and port in southeastern Michigan, USA, 788 km/489 mi west of New York and 395 km/245 mi east of Chicago, situated on the Detroit River opposite the city of Windsor in Ontario, Canada; seat of Wayne County; area 370 sq km/143 sq mi (excluding neighbouring cities), metropolitan area 10,093 sq km/3,897 sq mi; population (2000 est) 951,300. Detroit is the headquarters of the automobile manufacturers Ford, Chrysler (merged with Daimler in 1991), and General Motors, hence its nickname Motown (from ‘motor town’). Other manufactured products include steel, machine tools, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. It is the tenth-largest city in the USA.
Situated 29 km/18 mi above Lake Erie, Detroit is the busiest port in Michigan and is linked to the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Lawrence Seaway (opened 1959); the Detroit-Windsor tunnel is a major gateway to Canada. Ambassador Bridge (1929) is North America's most-travelled international bridge.
Detroit was founded in 1701 by a French soldier, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, as a fur-trading centre and became the leading French settlement in the Great Lakes region. It was captured by the British in 1760 and was held as a military post until 1783; it passed to the USA in 1796. Detroit was destroyed by fire in 1805 but was soon rebuilt. It was incorporated as a city in 1815. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 helped stimulate its development. Henry Ford established the Ford Motor Company here in 1903, and the city grew rapidly after the building of the first car factories. During the 1960s and 1970s Detroit became associated with the ‘Motown Sound’ of rock and soul music. Between 1950 and 1990 the population declined by almost half as the car factories became automated. There were serious race riots here in 1943 and 1967; its first black mayor, Coleman Young (1918-97), was elected in 1973. He served an unprecedented five terms until 1994.
In the suburb of Dearborn, the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village display 80 historic buildings, including Thomas Edison's laboratory and Henry Ford's birthplace. The central courtyard of the Detroit Institute of Arts (1885) has a series of murals by the Mexican painter Diego Rivera depicting the automobile industry. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, founded 1914, became famous under Antal Dorati. Detroit Opera House re-opened in 1996 in the restored Grand Circus Theater. Detroit is the seat of several colleges including Wayne State University (1868), the University of Detroit Mercy (1877), the Detroit College of Law (1891), and Marygrove College (1910). The Cranbrook Academy of Art is located in the suburb of Bloomfield Hills. Belle Isle Park, an island park in the Detroit River, has outdoor summer concerts, a zoo, and a botanical garden. The Renaissance Center (1977), a business complex, has a 73-story hotel - one of the tallest in the world. Tiger Stadium, home to major-league baseball team the Detroit Tigers, closed in 1999 to be replaced by Comerica Park. The US$1.2 billion Edward McMamara Terminal at Detroit Metropolitan Airport was opened in February 2002.
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