Detroit, Michigan

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit is located in southeastern Michigan, across from the Canadian city of Windsor, to which it is connected by a bridge and tunnel. Detroit is famous for being the world capital of automobiles: here Henry Ford founded his own industry at the end of the 19th century, here are the headquarters of General Motors and Chrysler.

Detroit’s urban history has been rather painful: during the Second World War the city, whose factories were manufacturing artillery pieces, was the object of an exodus of workers. The more the workers moved to the city center, the more wealthy people built elegant residences in the far outskirts and in the countryside. This phenomenon led to a profound decay of the center, and the need to invest very large sums for the construction of roads that connected Detroit to the myriad of residential districts near and far.

What see– In the city center, one of the most interesting points from a tourist point of view is the Renaissance Center which Americans abbreviate as RenCen, a group of seven glass skyscrapers used as headquarters for tertiary activities such as hotels, restaurants, financial companies and shops and General Motors headquarters. Nearby Hart Plaza hosts festivals throughout the year, such as the Detro├Čt International Jazz Festival Across the Street, an 8-meter sculpture titled Big Fist recalls boxing champion Joe Louis, a native of Detroit. East of downtown is the bustling Greek quarter and restaurant area around Monroe Avenue.

Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. This center celebrates the contribution made by the large African American population to the economic and cultural development of Detroit.

Detroit Historical Museum – The revamped “Streets of Old Detroit” section and the exhibit on the history of the Detroit auto industry are the main attractions of this museum, located in the Detroit Cultural Corridor near Wayne State University. The Historic Fort Wayne and Tuskegee Airmen Museum, in the southwest of the city, includes many of the surviving buildings of Fort Wayne, the city’s last remaining military bastion.

One of the oldest museums in the country is located in Detroit. This is the Detroit Institute of Fine Arts with world art exhibitions spanning a period of five thousand years. The Institute houses, among other treasures, Diego Rivera’s impressive mural, Detroit Industry. Also world famous is the Henry Ford Museum, which documents the transition of the United States from a rural country to an urban and industrialized society.

The revival of Detroit’s inner city after the violence in recent decades is evidenced by its modern public transport system, especially the sophisticated elevated subway, with its thirteen stations, and local pictorial art displays in each one.. The city also has extensive parks, one of the largest zoos in the country, and an entertainment center on Boblo Island.

History– The city of Detroit owes its name to the river on whose banks it is located. The river was called d’Etroit, a French word meaning ‘narrow.’ One day in July, in 1710, the French captain Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac and his crew docked at the point of the shore where it seemed to them the best place. Cadillac and his men built a fort and a village, to which they gave the name of Ville d’Etroit, ‘the city of the strait.’ Over time the spelling was simplified and the name was changed to Detroit. The city changed hands three times during the 18th century. First it was under the control of France and Great Britain. Finally, at the end of the revolutionary war, the United States took possession of the city after the treaty that signed the peace. But the British took it back during the war of 1812, and Detroit, the capital of Michigan territory since 1805, acquired the dubious honor of being the only major American city in all of history to have been occupied by a foreign power. After a fire that devastated it, the city had to be completely rebuilt. A few years later, Detroit stopped being the capital of Michigan because its geographic location exposed it to foreign invasions. In this way the city of Lansing became the capital of the state. But Detroit’s economic development did not suffer that change because, in addition to its privileged position on the Great Lakes, there were other factors that favored it, the opening of the Erie Canal in 1826, the increasing use of the railway, the birth of companies in the wood, and a great abundance of manpower. At the end of the 19th century, Detroit had become a major industrial and manufacturing center. However, it was the automobile that, at the turn of the century, marked the fate of Detroit, which became its world capital. Here were born the three giants of the North American automotive industry: Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. The Depression of the 1930s hit Detroit hard. One third of its workforce was left unemployed. Strikes led by the growing trade union movement provoked a strong reaction accompanied by demonstrations of violence. But World War II revived the city’s economy. In 1943 racial violence struck the city and killed thirty-five people. About twenty-five years later, violence reappeared in Detroit, as in other large urban centers in the country, and there were still deaths (forty-three), and hundreds of wounded. The violence of the decade of the 60s was responsible for the birth of several citizen movements whose objectives included the reconstruction of the city and the resolution of problems related to education, employment, housing and economic development. In 1974, a black citizen was elected mayor of Detroit, the first to reach that position.

Detroit, Michigan

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