Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms, Wikipedia.


, city, United States
Detroit (dĭtroitˈ), city (2020 pop. 639,111), seat of Wayne co., SE Mich., on the Detroit River and between lakes St. Clair and Erie; inc. as a city 1815. Michigan's largest city and the tenth largest in the nation, Detroit is a major Great Lakes shipping and rail center.


Detroit's early carriage industry helped Henry Ford and others to make it the “automobile capital of the world.” The Detroit region continues to be home to the major U.S. automobile manufacturers, but declines in the field have caused severe unemployment in the city and its environs, and government and the health-care industry now employ more people. In addition to the manufacture of motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts, Detroit makes steel, fabricated-metal, and paper products; food and beverages; and chemicals. There is printing and publishing, and extensive salt mines lie under southwestern sections of the city. Detroit is diverse ethnically, with an African-American majority and the nation's largest community of Arab Americans.

Points of Interest

The city's Lafayette Park section is a notable example of Mies van der Rohe's architecture, and Albert Kahn designed hundreds of buildings in Detroit, notably the art deco Fisher Building and the Belle Isle Aquarium. Wayne State Univ. and the Univ. of Detroit Mercy are among the city's educational institutions. Detroit has a symphony orchestra, organized in 1914. The Detroit Institute of Arts is renowned, and the Museum of African-American History opened a large new facility in 1997. Also there are the Fox Theater, a renovated movie palace; a civic center, with Cobo Hall, one of the world's largest exhibition buildings; Joe Louis Arena, where the National Hockey League's Red Wings play; and Fort Wayne (1849). Tiger Stadium, formerly the oldest (1912) major-league baseball park, closed in 1999; the Tigers now play in Comerica Park, across from Ford Field, the home of the National Football League's Lions. The Detroit Pistons (basketball) play in suburban Auburn Hills. Belle Isle in the Detroit River is a popular park and the site of the annual Detroit Grand Prix auto race. The Ambassador International Bridge (the world's longest international suspension bridge) and a vehicular tunnel link Detroit with Windsor, Ont.


A French fort and fur-trading settlement founded here in 1701 by Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac and called Ville d'étroit [city of the strait] were captured by the British in 1760. Three years later the British withstood a long siege during Pontiac's Rebellion. American control, resulting from Jay's Treaty, was established in 1796. Detroit was first the territorial and then the state capital from 1805 to 1847. Fire in 1805 destroyed nearly all of the several hundred buildings in the town, but the settlement was rebuilt from a design by Pierre C. L'Enfant. Detroit was surrendered in 1812 to British forces, but was recovered by Gen. William Henry Harrison in 1813. With the development of land and water transportation, the city grew rapidly during the 1830s. It assumed great importance after the mid-19th cent. as a shipping, shipbuilding, and manufacturing center, attracting immigrants from around the world, including Poles, Italians, Germans, Serbs, Croats and others.

Large numbers of migrants from the South, especially African Americans, also arrived in Detroit after 1900 as factory production increased rapidly. Detroit was a leading producer for the military during World Wars I and II. In 1943, the National Guard was called in as race riots broke out in the city. Race riots erupted again in 1967, killing 43 and causing extensive property damage. Detroit's dependence on the declining automobile industry brought job loss, social problems, and massive migration to suburbs in the 1970s and 80s. The city's population declined 32% from 1970 to 1990, and scores of businesses left or closed.

Revitalization projects during the 1970s and 80s, including the Renaissance Center (1977), a 73-story hotel and office complex, and casinos constructed during the early 21st cent. have helped Detroit's downtown but not brought significant benefits to the city at large. Today, Detroit remains a largely minority city struggling with economic problems, surrounded by more affluent white suburbs. Detroit's notable mayors include James Couzens (1919–22) and Frank Murphy (1930–33). Coleman Young, the city's first (1974–93) black mayor, presided during difficult years of decline, and the years since have been marked by population losses and city financial difficulties, including increasingly significant debts. In 2013 Michigan appointed an emergency manager to oversee the city's finances, and later that year Detroit filed for bankruptcy. That same year, Democrat Mike Duggan was elected mayor, leading the city back to financial solvency and emphasizing new business development. He was reelected to a third term in 2021.


See S. Glazer, Detroit: A Study in Urban Development (1965); F. B. and A. M. Woodford, All Our Yesterdays: A History of Detroit (1969); B. Thompson et al., Detroit (1976); W. H. Ferry, Buildings of Detroit (1980).


, river, United States and Canada
Detroit, river, 32 mi (52 km) long, flowing from Lake St. Clair S into Lake Erie between Detroit, Mich., and Windsor, Ont.; it forms part of the U.S.-Canada boundary. It is one of the most heavily industrialized waterways in the United States; steel and chemical plants run along its coast.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in the northern USA, in the state of Michigan. Situated between Lakes Huron and Erie, on the right bank of the Detroit River, which is on the border with Canada. Population, 1,511,500; with suburbs (within the USA), 4.2 million (1970).

Detroit was founded by the French in 1701. In 1760 it was captured by the British, and in the late 18th century it became part of the USA. In 1802 it acquired the status of a city. The growth of Detroit in the 19th century was associated with the opening of the Erie Canal, the development of navigation on the Great Lakes and of lumbering in the Great Lakes region, and the construction of railroads, and in the 20th century with the development of the automobile industry (the first plant was built in 1899). Detroit is a major center of the American workers’ and democratic movement. In 1936-37 there was a strike of 500,000 auto workers. In the 1960’s and early 1970’s, Detroit was repeatedly the arena of actions by the Negro population in defense of civil rights.

Detroit is the fifth most populous city and the fourth largest industrial city in the USA. It is a major financial center and an important transportation hub of the country. It is located at the intersection of the Great Lakes system with the railroads and highways that run from New England and New York through eastern Canada toward Chicago. Detroit is the third largest port of the Great Lakes in cargo turnover and first in ship turnover. There are 600,000 people employed in industry (1969; more than 40 percent of the city’s economically active population), of which more than four-fifths are in heavy industry (mostly machine building). Detroit is the chief center of the American automobile industry, the largest supplier of motor vehicles in the world. The offices, major plants, and laboratories of the leading American auto monopolies—General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler—are located in the city and its suburbs. Ferrous metallurgy (specializing in the production of special steels and thin cold-rolled sheet steel), the processing of ferrous and nonferrous metals and plastics, and the production of glass, lacquers, paints, and bearings are associated with the automobile industry. Detroit is also a major center for the production of tanks and military vehicles. The chemical industry is also well developed (on the basis of local salt resources).

A grid layout predominates in Detroit, but there are also features of a radial-ring plan (the Grand Boulevard thoroughfare, which circles the center; radial streets converging toward Grand Circus Park). Among the most important structures are the Public Library (1921-23; architect C. Gilbert), the Institute of Arts (1922-27; architect P. Cret; frescoes by D. Rivera, 1932-33), the 47-story Penobscot Building skyscraper (1928), the Chrysler industrial complex (1938; architect A. Kahn), and structures by M. Yamasaki (the American Institute of Reinforced Concrete, 1957-58; the Wayne State University conference hall, 1957-59; and the Reynolds Metals office, 1959). To reduce slum areas, work has been under way since 1934 on the partial reconstruction of the city (the Lafayette Park residential complex, 1960; architect L. Mies van der Rohe), and the overloading of thoroughfares brought about the construction of suburban commercial centers (Northland, 1952-54; architect V. Gruen). A municipal center with a city hall, a meeting hall, and a concert hall has been built since 1950.

Detroit’s museums include the Institute of Arts (European and American fine art; decorative and theatrical art) and Greenfield Village (a museum of American life, with about 100 early American buildings). Universities include Wayne State and Detroit.


Hawkins, Ferry W. The Buildings of Detroit. Detroit, 1968. V. M. GOKHMAN and A. M. KANTOR (architecture)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. a city in SE Michigan, on the Detroit River: a major Great Lakes port; largest car-manufacturing centre in the world. Pop.: 911 402 (2003 est.)
2. a river in central North America, flowing along the US-Canadian border from Lake St Clair to Lake Erie
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Since Comerica Bank's partnership with Hatch Detroit began in 2012, Comerica has awarded a total of USD 350,000 in startup funding, with each winner earning USD 50,000.
Franklin died of pancreatic cancer in August in her Detroit riverfront apartment.
Detroit students must have the following qualifications in order to apply: earn at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA as of Feb.
Critique: Now in an updated second edition, 100 Things To Do In Detroit Before You Die lives up to its title as a highlight of exciting, enriching, must-see and mustgo places in the American city of Detroit.
The police showed up and told me to shut the store down," said Douraid Karim, owner of Big Daddy Liquor store near the scene on Livernois, Detroit.
McGuire, and Kevin Boyle, have individually created a rich body of work on Detroit and race, that is compiled here in a well-rounded, accessible history.
"My father not being there meant the same thing as every other child in Detroit or around the world growing up without a father," she told WXYZ.
To further celebrate Ally's commitment to Detroit, the company also announced a community promotion with local business Detroit Water Ice Factory called "The 313 Pledge".
RUNS--Dozier, Minnesota, 77; Trout, Los Angeles, 76; Brantley, Cleveland, 73; Donaldson, Oakland, 73; MeCabrera, Toronto, 70; Gardner, New York, 70; Kinsler, Detroit, 70.
DETROIT -- Avanti Press is celebrating its hometown with a collection of notecards featuring historical photos of Detroit.
In a city that took a beating during the Great Recession, Detroit's daily newspapers were hit especially hard.