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Detroit

Most populous city in Michigan, United States; county seat of Wayne County

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Detroit, Michigan
City of Detroit
Seal
Etymology: French: détroit (strait)
Nicknames: 
The Motor City, Motown, Renaissance City, City of the Straits, The D, Hockeytown, The Automotive Capital of the World, Rock City, The 313, The Arsenal of Democracy, The Town That Put The World on Wheels, Tigertown, The Big D, Détroit, Paris of the West
Motto(s): 
Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus
(Latin: We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes)
Location within Wayne County
Detroit
Location within the State of Michigan
Detroit
Location within the United States
Detroit
Location within North America
Coordinates: 42°19′53″N 83°02′45″W / 42.33139°N 83.04583°W / 42.33139; -83.04583Coordinates: 42°19′53″N 83°02′45″W / 42.33139°N 83.04583°W / 42.33139; -83.04583[1]
Country  United States
State  Michigan
County Wayne
FoundedJuly 24, 1701
IncorporatedSeptember 13, 1806
Government
 • TypeMayor–council
 • BodyDetroit City Council
 • MayorMike Duggan
 • City Council
Area
 • City142.89 sq mi (370.08 km2)
 • Land138.72 sq mi (359.27 km2)
 • Water4.17 sq mi (10.81 km2)
 • Urban
1,295 sq mi (3,350 km2)
 • Metro
3,913 sq mi (10,130 km2)
Elevation656 ft (200 m)
Population
 • City713,777
 • Estimate 
(2019)[6]
670,031
 • RankU.S.: 24th
 • Density4,852.42/sq mi (1,873.54/km2)
 • Urban
3,734,090 (US: 11th)
 • Metro
4,292,060 (US: 14th)
 • CSA
5,336,286[3] (US: 12th)
Demonym(s)Detroiter
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)
48127, 48201, 48202, 48204–48206, 48208–48210, 48212–48217, 48219, 48221–48228, 48231–48236, 48238–48240, 48243, 48244, 48255, 48260, 48264, 48266–48269, 48272, 48275, 48277–48279, 48288
Area code(s)313
FIPS code26-22000
GNIS feature ID1617959[1]
WebsiteOfficial website

Detroit (/dɪˈtrɔɪt/, locally also /ˈdtrɔɪt/; French: Détroit, lit. 'strait')[7] is the largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Michigan, the largest U.S. city on the United States–Canada border, and the seat of Wayne County. The municipality of Detroit had a 2019 estimated population of 670,031, making it the 24th-most populous city in the United States. The metropolitan area, known as Metro Detroit, is home to 4.3 million people, making it the second-largest in the Midwest after the Chicago metropolitan area, and 14th largest in the United States. Regarded as a major cultural center, Detroit is known for its contributions to music and as a repository for art, architecture and design.[8]

Detroit is a major port on the Detroit River, one of the four major straits that connect 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 regional economy in the Midwest, behind Chicago and ahead of Minneapolis–Saint Paul, and the 13th-largest in the United States.[9] Detroit and its neighboring Canadian city Windsor are connected through a highway tunnel, railway tunnel, and the Ambassador Bridge, which is the second busiest international crossing in North America, after San Diego–Tijuana.[10] Detroit is best known as the center of the U.S. automobile industry, and the "Big Three" auto manufacturers General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler are all headquartered in Metro Detroit.[11]

In 1701, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit, the future city of Detroit. During the 19th century, it became an important industrial hub at the center of the Great Lakes region. The city became the 4th-largest in the nation in 1920, after only New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia with the influence of the booming auto industry.[12] With expansion of the auto industry in the early 20th century, the city and its suburbs experienced rapid growth, and by the 1940s, the city remained as the fourth-largest in the country. However, due to industrial restructuring, the loss of jobs in the auto industry, and rapid suburbanization, Detroit lost considerable population from the late 20th century to the present. Since reaching a peak of 1.85 million at the 1950 census, Detroit's population has declined by more than 60 percent.[4] In 2013, Detroit became the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy, which it successfully exited in December 2014, when the city government regained control of Detroit's finances.[13]

Detroit's diverse culture has had both local and international influence, particularly in music, with the city giving rise to the genres of Motown and techno, and playing an important role in the development of jazz, hip-hop, rock, and punk music. The rapid growth of Detroit in its boom years resulted in a globally unique stock of architectural monuments and historic places. Since the 2000s conservation efforts have managed to save many architectural pieces and achieved several large-scale revitalizations, including the restoration of several historic theatres and entertainment venues, high-rise renovations, new sports stadiums, and a riverfront revitalization project. More recently, the population of Downtown Detroit, Midtown Detroit, and various other neighborhoods has increased. An increasingly popular tourist destination, Detroit receives 19 million visitors per year.[14] In 2015, Detroit was named a "City of Design" by UNESCO, the first U.S. city to receive that designation.[15]

Detroit Intro articles: 43

History

Early settlement

Paleo-Indian people inhabited areas near Detroit as early as 11,000 years ago including the culture referred to as the Mound-builders.[16] In the 17th century, the region was inhabited by Huron, Odawa, Potawatomi and Iroquois peoples.[17]

The first Europeans did not penetrate into the region and reach the straits of Detroit until French missionaries and traders worked their way around the League of the Iroquois, with whom they were at war, and other Iroquoian tribes in the 1630s.[18] The Huron and Neutral peoples held the north side of Lake Erie until the 1650s, when the Iroquois pushed both and the Erie people away from the lake and its beaver-rich feeder streams in the Beaver Wars of 1649–1655.[18] By the 1670s, the war-weakened Iroquois laid claim to as far south as the Ohio River valley in northern Kentucky as hunting grounds,[18] and had absorbed many other Iroquoian peoples after defeating them in war.[18] For the next hundred years, virtually no British, colonist, or French action was contemplated without consultation with, or consideration of the Iroquois' likely response.[18] When the French and Indian War evicted the Kingdom of France from Canada, it removed one barrier to British colonists migrating west.[19]

British negotiations with the Iroquois would both prove critical and lead to a Crown policy limiting settlements below the Great Lakes and west of the Alleghenies. Many colonial American would-be migrants resented this restraint and became supporters of the American Revolution. The 1778 raids and resultant 1779 decisive Sullivan Expedition reopened the Ohio Country to westward emigration, which began almost immediately. By 1800 white settlers were pouring westwards.[20]

Later settlement

Ste. Anne de Détroit, founded in 1701 by French colonists, is the second-oldest continuously operating Catholic parish in the United States; the present church was completed in 1887[21]

The city was named by French colonists, referring to the Detroit River (French: le détroit du lac Érié, meaning the strait of Lake Erie), linking Lake Huron and Lake Erie; in the historical context, the strait included the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River.[22][23]

On July 24, 1701, the French explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, along with more than a hundred other settlers, began constructing a small fort on the north bank of the Detroit River. Cadillac would later name the settlement Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit,[24] after Louis Phélypeaux, comte de Pontchartrain, Minister of Marine under Louis XIV.[25] A church was soon founded here, and the parish was known as Sainte Anne de Détroit. France offered free land to colonists to attract families to Detroit; when it reached a population of 800 in 1765, this was the largest European settlement between Montreal and New Orleans, both also French settlements, in the former colonies of New France and La Louisiane, respectively.[26]

By 1773, after the addition of Anglo-American settlers, the population of Detroit was 1,400. By 1778, its population reached 2,144 and it was the third-largest city in what was known as the Province of Quebec since the British takeover of French colonies following their victory in the Seven Years' War.[27]

The region's economy was based on the lucrative fur trade, in which numerous Native American people had important roles as trappers and traders. Today the flag of Detroit reflects its French colonial heritage. Descendants of the earliest French and French-Canadian settlers formed a cohesive community, who gradually were superseded as the dominant population after more Anglo-American settlers arrived in the early 19th century with American westward migration. Living along the shores of Lakes St. Clair, and south to Monroe and downriver suburbs, the ethnic French Canadians of Detroit, also known as Muskrat French in reference to the fur trade, remain a subculture in the region in the 21st century.[28][29]

During the French and Indian War (1754–63), the North American front of the Seven Years' War between Britain and France, British troops gained control of the settlement in 1760, and shortened its name to Detroit. Several regional Native American tribes, such as the Potowatomi, Ojibwe and Huron, launched Pontiac's Rebellion (1763), and conducted a siege of Fort Detroit, but failed to capture it. In defeat, France ceded its territory in North America east of the Mississippi to Britain following the war.[30]

Following the American Revolutionary War and United States independence, Britain ceded Detroit along with other territory in the area under the Jay Treaty (1796), which established the northern border with its colony of Canada.[31] In 1805, fire destroyed most of the Detroit settlement, which had primarily buildings made of wood. One stone fort, a river warehouse, and brick chimneys of former wooden homes were the sole structures to survive.[32] Of the 600 Detroit residents in this area, none died in the fire.[33]

19th century

After the Siege of Detroit in 1812, Surrender of Detroit, painting by John Wycliffe Lowes Forster

From 1805 to 1847, Detroit was the capital of Michigan (first the territory, then the state). William Hull, the United States commander at Detroit surrendered without a fight to British troops and their Native American allies during the War of 1812 in the Siege of Detroit, believing his forces were vastly outnumbered. The Battle of Frenchtown (January 18–23, 1813) was part of a U.S. effort to retake the city, and U.S. troops suffered their highest fatalities of any battle in the war. This battle is commemorated at River Raisin National Battlefield Park south of Detroit in Monroe County. Detroit was recaptured by the United States later that year.[34]

The City of Detroit (from Canada Shore), 1872, by A. C. Warren

The settlement was incorporated as a city in 1815.[21] As the city expanded, a geometric street plan developed by Augustus B. Woodward was followed, featuring grand boulevards as in Paris.[35]

Prior to the American Civil War, the city's access to the Canada–US border made it a key stop for refugee slaves gaining freedom in the North along the Underground Railroad. Many went across the Detroit River to Canada to escape pursuit by slave catchers.[36][21] An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 African-American refugees settled in Canada.[37] George DeBaptiste was considered to be the "president" of the Detroit Underground Railroad, William Lambert the "vice president" or "secretary", and Laura Haviland the "superintendent".[38]

Numerous men from Detroit volunteered to fight for the Union during the American Civil War, including the 24th Michigan Infantry Regiment. It was part of the legendary Iron Brigade, which fought with distinction and suffered 82% casualties at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. When the First Volunteer Infantry Regiment arrived to fortify Washington, D.C., President Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying "Thank God for Michigan!" George Armstrong Custer led the Michigan Brigade during the Civil War and called them the "Wolverines".[39]

During the late 19th century, wealthy industry and shipping magnates commissioned design and construction of several Gilded Age mansions east and west of the current downtown, along the major avenues of the Woodward plan. Most notable among them was the David Whitney House at 4421 Woodward Avenue, and the grand avenue became a favored address for mansions. During this period some referred to Detroit as the "Paris of the West" for its architecture, grand avenues in the Paris style, and for Washington Boulevard, recently electrified by Thomas Edison.[21] The city had grown steadily from the 1830s with the rise of shipping, shipbuilding, and manufacturing industries. Strategically located along the Great Lakes waterway, Detroit emerged as a major port and transportation hub.

In 1896, a thriving carriage trade prompted Henry Ford to build his first automobile in a rented workshop on Mack Avenue. During this growth period, Detroit expanded its borders by annexing all or part of several surrounding villages and townships.

20th century

In 1903, Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company. Ford's manufacturing—and those of automotive pioneers William C. Durant, the Dodge Brothers, Packard, and Walter Chrysler—established Detroit's status in the early 20th century as the world's automotive capital.[21] The growth of the auto industry was reflected by changes in businesses throughout the Midwest and nation, with the development of garages to service vehicles and gas stations, as well as factories for parts and tires.

Downtown Panorama (1905) looking toward the Detroit River and Windsor, Ontario
Cadillac Square and county building in Detroit, Michigan[40]
Downtown Detroit, circa 1920.

With the rapid growth of industrial workers in the auto factories, labor unions such as the American Federation of Labor and the United Auto Workers fought to organize workers to gain them better working conditions and wages. They initiated strikes and other tactics in support of improvements such as the 8-hour day/40-hour work week, increased wages, greater benefits and improved working conditions. The labor activism during those years increased influence of union leaders in the city such as Jimmy Hoffa of the Teamsters and Walter Reuther of the Autoworkers.[41]

The Indian Chief Relief by Corrado Parducci that is displayed on the facade of the Penobscot Building, the city's tallest building from 1928 to 1977.
William C. Maybury Monument by Adolph Alexander Weinman in Grand Circus Park

Due to the booming auto industry, Detroit became the 4th-largest in the nation in 1920, following New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia.

The prohibition of alcohol from 1920 to 1933 resulted in the Detroit River becoming a major conduit for smuggling of illegal Canadian spirits.[12]

Detroit, like many places in the United States, developed racial conflict and discrimination in the 20th century following the rapid demographic changes as hundreds of thousands of new workers were attracted to the industrial city; in a short period it became the 4th-largest city in the nation. The Great Migration brought rural blacks from the South; they were outnumbered by southern whites who also migrated to the city. Immigration brought southern and eastern Europeans of Catholic and Jewish faith; these new groups competed with native-born whites for jobs and housing in the booming city.

Detroit was one of the major Midwest cities that was a site for the dramatic urban revival of the Ku Klux Klan beginning in 1915. "By the 1920s the city had become a stronghold of the KKK," whose members primarily opposed Catholic and Jewish immigrants, but also practiced discrimination against black Americans.[42] Even after the decline of the KKK in the late 1920s, the Black Legion, a secret vigilante group, was active in the Detroit area in the 1930s. One-third of its estimated 20,000 to 30,000 members in Michigan were based in the city. It was defeated after numerous prosecutions following the kidnapping and murder in 1936 of Charles Poole, a Catholic organizer with the federal Works Progress Administration. Some 49 men of the Black Legion were convicted of numerous crimes, with many sentenced to life in prison for murder.

Looking south down Woodward Avenue, with the Detroit skyline in the distance, July 1942

In the 1940s the world's "first urban depressed freeway" ever built, the Davison,[43] was constructed in Detroit. During World War II, the government encouraged retooling of the American automobile industry in support of the Allied powers, leading to Detroit's key role in the American Arsenal of Democracy.[44]

Jobs expanded so rapidly due to the defense buildup in World War II that 400,000 people migrated to the city from 1941 to 1943, including 50,000 blacks in the second wave of the Great Migration, and 350,000 whites, many of them from the South. Whites, including ethnic Europeans, feared black competition for jobs and scarce housing. The federal government prohibited discrimination in defense work, but when in June 1943 Packard promoted three black people to work next to whites on its assembly lines, 25,000 white workers walked off the job.[45]

The Detroit race riot of 1943 took place in June, three weeks after the Packard plant protest, beginning with an altercation at Belle Isle. Blacks suffered 25 deaths (of a total of 34), three quarters of 600 wounded, and most of the losses due to property damage. Rioters moved through the city, and young whites traveled across town to attack more settled blacks in their neighborhood of Paradise Valley.[46][47]

Postwar era

Industrial mergers in the 1950s, especially in the automobile sector, increased oligopoly in the American auto industry. Detroit manufacturers such as Packard and Hudson merged into other companies and eventually disappeared. At its peak population of 1,849,568, in the 1950 Census, the city was the 5th-largest in the United States, after New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

In this postwar era, the auto industry continued to create opportunities for many African Americans from the South, who continued with their Great Migration to Detroit and other northern and western cities to escape the strict Jim Crow laws and racial discrimination policies of the South. As before the war, competition had been fierce for employment, housing, and land. Racial discrimination took place in employment, keeping the work force and better jobs predominantly white. These unequal opportunities in employment resulted in unequal housing opportunities for the majority of the black community. Despite changes in demographics, for instance, Detroit's police force, fire department, and other city jobs were held by predominately white residents.

The surge in Detroit's black population with the Great Migration augmented the strain on housing scarcity. Black people were often turned away from bank loans to obtain housing and interest rates, and rents were unfairly inflated to prevent their moving into white neighborhoods. Such discrimination also took place due to redlining by banks and federal housing policy, which limited the ability of blacks to improve their housing, and encouraged white people to guard the racial divide that defined their neighborhoods. This marginalized the agency of black Detroiters—another important aspect in the history of postwar Detroit.[48]

As in other major American cities in the postwar era, construction of a federally subsidized, extensive highway and freeway system around Detroit, and pent-up demand for new housing stimulated suburbanization; highways made commuting by car easier. However, this construction had negative implications for many urban residents. Highways were constructed through neighborhoods of poor and minority residents who had less political power to oppose them. (The neighborhoods were mostly low income or considered blighted, made up of older housing, where investment had been lacking due to racial redlining, so the highways were presented as a kind of urban renewal.) They displaced residents with little consideration of the effects of breaking up functioning neighborhoods.[48]

In 1956, Detroit's last heavily used electric streetcar line, which traveled along the length of Woodward Avenue, was removed and replaced with gas-powered buses. It was the last line of what had once been a 534-mile network of electric streetcars. In 1941 at peak times, a streetcar ran on Woodward Avenue every 60 seconds.[49][50]

All of these changes in the area's transportation system favored low-density, auto-oriented development rather than high-density urban development. Industry also moved to the suburbs, seeking large plots of land for single story factories. By the 21st century, the metro Detroit area had developed as one of the most sprawling job markets in the United States; combined with poor public transport, this resulted in many new jobs being beyond the reach of urban low-income workers.[51]

Packard Automotive Plant, an automobile factory closed and abandoned in 1958

In 1950, the city held about one-third of the state's population, anchored by its industries and workers. Over the next sixty years, the city's population declined to less than 10 percent of the state's population. During the same time period, the sprawling Detroit metropolitan area, which surrounds and includes the city, grew to contain more than half of Michigan's population.[21] The shift of population and jobs eroded Detroit's tax base.

I have a dream this afternoon that my four little children, that my four little children will not come up in the same young days that I came up within, but they will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not the color of their skin… I have a dream this evening that one day we will recognize the words of Jefferson that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I have a dream ...

—Martin Luther King Jr. (June 1963 Speech at the Great March on Detroit)[52]

In June 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a major speech as part of a civil rights march in Detroit that foreshadowed his "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington, D.C., two months later. While the civil rights movement gained significant federal civil rights laws in 1964 and 1965, longstanding inequities resulted in confrontations between the police and inner city black youth who wanted change.

Longstanding tensions in Detroit culminated in the Twelfth Street riot in July 1967. Governor George W. Romney ordered the Michigan National Guard into Detroit, and President Johnson sent in U.S. Army troops. The result was 43 dead, 467 injured, over 7,200 arrests, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed, mostly in black residential and business areas. Thousands of small businesses closed permanently or relocated to safer neighborhoods. The affected district lay in ruins for decades.[53] It was the most costly riot in the United States.

On August 18, 1970, the NAACP filed suit against Michigan state officials, including Governor William Milliken, charging de facto public school segregation. The NAACP argued that although schools were not legally segregated, the city of Detroit and its surrounding counties had enacted policies to maintain racial segregation in public schools. The NAACP also suggested a direct relationship between unfair housing practices and educational segregation, as the composition of students in the schools followed segregated neighborhoods.[54] The District Court held all levels of government accountable for the segregation in its ruling. The Sixth Circuit Court affirmed some of the decision, holding that it was the state's responsibility to integrate across the segregated metropolitan area.[55] The U.S. Supreme Court took up the case February 27, 1974.[54] The subsequent Milliken v. Bradley decision had nationwide influence. In a narrow decision, the US Supreme Court found schools were a subject of local control, and suburbs could not be forced to solve problems in the city's school district.

"Milliken was perhaps the greatest missed opportunity of that period," said Myron Orfield, professor of law at the University of Minnesota. "Had that gone the other way, it would have opened the door to fixing nearly all of Detroit's current problems."[56] John Mogk, a professor of law and an expert in urban planning at Wayne State University in Detroit, says,

"Everybody thinks that it was the riots [in 1967] that caused the white families to leave. Some people were leaving at that time but, really, it was after Milliken that you saw mass flight to the suburbs. If the case had gone the other way, it is likely that Detroit would not have experienced the steep decline in its tax base that has occurred since then."[56]

1970s

In November 1973, the city elected Coleman Young as its first black mayor. After taking office, Young emphasized increasing racial diversity in the police department, which was predominately white.[57] Young also worked to improve Detroit's transportation system, but tension between Young and his suburban counterparts over regional matters was problematic throughout his mayoral term. In 1976, the federal government offered $600 million for building a regional rapid transit system, under a single regional authority.[58] But the inability of Detroit and its suburban neighbors to solve conflicts over transit planning resulted in the region losing the majority of funding for rapid transit.

Following the failure to reach a regional agreement over the larger system, the city moved forward with construction of the elevated downtown circulator portion of the system, which became known as the Detroit People Mover.[59]

Michigan Central Station (built 1914) and its Amtrak connection went out of service in 1988. It was bought by Ford Motor Company in 2018 and will be the center of mixed-use development.

The gasoline crises of 1973 and 1979 also affected Detroit and the U.S. auto industry. Buyers chose smaller, more fuel-efficient cars made by foreign makers as the price of gas rose. Efforts to revive the city were stymied by the struggles of the auto industry, as their sales and market share declined. Automakers laid off thousands of employees and closed plants in the city, further eroding the tax base. To counteract this, the city used eminent domain to build two large new auto assembly plants in the city.[60]

The Renaissance Center, home of the world headquarters of General Motors and the second tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere, is located along the International Riverfront

As mayor, Young sought to revive the city by seeking to increase investment in the city's declining downtown. The Renaissance Center, a mixed-use office and retail complex, opened in 1977. This group of skyscrapers was an attempt to keep businesses in downtown.[21][61][62] Young also gave city support to other large developments to attract middle and upper-class residents back to the city. Despite the Renaissance Center and other projects, the downtown area continued to lose businesses to the automobile-dependent suburbs. Major stores and hotels closed, and many large office buildings went vacant. Young was criticized for being too focused on downtown development and not doing enough to lower the city's high crime rate and improve city services to residents.

Previously a major population center and site of worldwide automobile manufacturing, Detroit has suffered a long economic decline produced by numerous factors.[63][64][65] Like many industrial American cities, Detroit peak population was in 1950, before postwar suburbanization took effect. The peak population was 1.8 million people.[66]

Following suburbanization, industrial restructuring, and loss of jobs (as described above), by the 2010 census, the city had less than 40 percent of that number, with just over 700,000 residents. The city has declined in population in each census since 1950.[66][67]

High unemployment was compounded by middle-class flight to the suburbs, and some residents leaving the state to find work. The result for the city was a higher proportion of poor in its population, reduced tax base, depressed property values, abandoned buildings, abandoned neighborhoods, high crime rates, and a pronounced demographic imbalance.

1980s

On August 16, 1987, Northwest Airlines Flight 255 crashed near Detroit, killing all but one of the 155 people on board, as well as two people on the ground.

1990s–2000s

In 1993 Young retired as Detroit's longest-serving mayor, deciding not to seek a sixth term. That year the city elected Dennis Archer, a former Michigan Supreme Court justice. Archer prioritized downtown development and easing tensions with Detroit's suburban neighbors. A referendum to allow casino gambling in the city passed in 1996; several temporary casino facilities opened in 1999, and permanent downtown casinos with hotels opened in 2007–08.[68]

Campus Martius, a reconfiguration of downtown's main intersection as a new park, was opened in 2004. The park has been cited as one of the best public spaces in the United States.[69][70][71] The city's riverfront on the Detroit River has been the focus of redevelopment, following successful examples of other older industrial cities. In 2001, the first portion of the International Riverfront was completed as a part of the city's 300th anniversary celebration. Miles of associated parks and landscaping have been completed in succeeding years. In 2011, the Port Authority Passenger Terminal opened, with the riverwalk connecting Hart Plaza to the Renaissance Center.[62]

Since 2006, $9 billion has been invested in downtown and surrounding neighborhoods; $5.2 billion of which has come in 2013 and 2014.[72] Construction activity, particularly rehabilitation of historic downtown buildings, has increased markedly. The number of vacant downtown buildings has dropped from nearly 50 to around 13.[73] Among the most notable redevelopment projects are the Book Cadillac Hotel and Fort Shelby Hotel; the David Broderick Tower; and the David Whitney Building.[61]

Little Caesars Arena, a new home for the Detroit Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons, with attached residential, hotel, and retail use, opened on September 5, 2017.[74] The plans for the project call for mixed-use residential on the blocks surrounding the arena and the renovation of the vacant 14-story Eddystone Hotel. It will be a part of The District Detroit, a group of places owned by Olympia Entertainment Inc., including Comerica Park and the Detroit Opera House, among others.

21st century

View of Downtown Detroit from the Detroit River, 2009

Detroit's protracted decline has resulted in severe urban decay, with thousands of empty buildings around the city, referred to as greyfield. Some parts of Detroit are so sparsely populated the city has difficulty providing municipal services. The city has demolished abandoned homes and buildings, planting grass and trees, and considered removing street lighting from large portions of the city, in order to encourage the small population in certain areas to move to more populated areas.[75][76][77][78][79] Roughly half of the owners of Detroit's 305,000 properties failed to pay their 2011 tax bills, resulting in about $246 million in taxes and fees going uncollected, nearly half of which was due to Detroit. The rest of the money would have been earmarked for Wayne County, Detroit Public Schools, and the library system.[80]

In September 2008, Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (who had served for six years) resigned following felony convictions. In 2013, Kilpatrick was convicted on 24 federal felony counts, including mail fraud, wire fraud, and racketeering,[81] and was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison.[82] The former mayor's activities cost the city an estimated $20 million.[83] In 2013, felony bribery charges were brought against seven building inspectors.[84] In 2016, further corruption charges were brought against 12 principals, a former school superintendent and supply vendor[85] for a $12 million kickback scheme.[86][87] Law professor Peter Henning argues Detroit's corruption is not unusual for a city its size, especially when compared with Chicago.[88]

The Gateway to Freedom International Memorial to the Underground Railroad in Philip A. Hart Plaza.

The city's financial crisis resulted in Michigan taking over administrative control of its government.[89] The state governor declared a financial emergency in March 2013, appointing Kevyn Orr as emergency manager. On July 18, 2013, Detroit became the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy.[90] It was declared bankrupt by U.S. District Court on December 3, 2013, in light of the city's $18.5 billion debt and its inability to fully repay its thousands of creditors.[91] On November 7, 2014, the city's plan for exiting bankruptcy was approved. The following month, on December 11, the city officially exited bankruptcy. The plan allowed the city to eliminate $7 billion in debt and invest $1.7 billion into improved city services.[92]

One of the largest post-bankruptcy efforts to improve city services has been work to fix the city's broken street lighting system. At one time it was estimated that 40% of lights were not working, which resulted in public safety issues and abandonment of housing. The plan called for replacing outdated high pressure sodium lights with 65,000 LED lights. Construction began in late 2014 and finished in December 2016; Detroit is the largest U.S city with all LED street lighting.[93]

In the 2010s, several initiatives were taken by Detroit's citizens and new residents to improve the cityscape by renovating and revitalizing neighborhoods. Such include the Motor City Blight Busters[94] and various urban gardening movements.[95]

The well-known symbol of the city's decades-long demise, the Michigan Central Station, was long vacant. The city renovated it with new windows, elevators and facilities since 2015.[96] Several other landmark buildings have been privately renovated and adapted as condominiums, hotels, offices, or for cultural uses. Detroit is mentioned as a city of renaissance and has reversed many of the trends of the prior decades.[97][98]

Detroit History articles: 156