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Detroit, Michigan - Home of Comerica Park

The oldest city in the Midwest, Detroit was founded on July 24, 1701, when Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac landed on what is now the Civic Center downtown and started a fur trading center. In 1790, Detroit was turned over to the British as a spoil of the French and Indian War, and it was not until 1796 that George Washington forced the British out of the city and the American flag was raised over Fort Pontchartrain.

Incorporated as a city in 1815, Detroit's early industry through the middle of the 19th century was the production of stove and kitchen ranges.

A city of less than 300,000 at the turn of the century, the emergence of the auto industry turned Detroit into a great commercial center in a matter of just a few years. In 1896, entrepreneur Henry Ford built his first car in the city, arguably the most important event in the history of Detroit's development. Ford Motor Company was established in 1903, but two years later there were 150 American cities that were home to automobile manufacturing plants. In 1913, it was Ford again who sent Detroit to the front of the manufacturing pack, introducing the assembly line and revolutionizing the automobile industry. Before long, the city became entrenched as the auto capital of the world with Ford, General Motors, Chrysler and Volkswagen of America all headquartered in the area.

With the growth of manufacturing, the little city on the river experienced dramatic development during the first two decades of the century. With Ford, the Dodge brothers and many others leading the charge in business development, the city's population base exploded as Detroit became the nation's fifth-largest city.

By 1950, the city began to construct one of the country's most elaborate systems of freeways, and the population shifted to a metropolitan one. In fact, Northland Mall (constructed in 1954) in Southfield was the first shopping mall in the country, representing a swing to the new suburban lifestyle.

At the same time that the suburbs were growing, there were still great developments within the city limits. In 1959, Berry Gordy turned his little New Center-area home into a recording studio, developing what remains today one of the most popular musical styles in the "Motown sound." Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and others too many to count called Detroit home, helping Gordy establish the city as a musical giant.

Other downtown projects included the opening of Cobo Hall, Detroit's main convention center, in 1960. In 1971, Henry Ford II announced plans for the construction of the largest privately-financed project in the world. Designed to bring people and growth back to the center city, his plan became a reality in 1977 as the Renaissance Center opened.

In 1980, the nation's eyes once again were focused on Detroit as it played host to the 32nd Republican National Convention at the new Joe Louis Arena.

One of America's greatest sports cities, the metro area boasts teams in each of the four major sports in the Tigers, Red Wings (hockey), Lions (football) and Pistons (basketball). In addition to Comerica Park and Cobo Arena, downtown is also home to Joe Louis Arena, home of the Red Wings and named after the boxing hero who grew up in the city.

Though the city has struggled with many urban problems, civic and government leaders have made urban renewal a top priority for Detroit. The area around Woodward Avenue, the first paved concrete highway in the U.S., has been home to many of the city's most exciting projects in recent years.

In 1987, current Tiger and Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch purchased the Fox Theatre and began renovations on what had once been a grand venue hosting top events. With more than $50 million poured into its development, the Fox has been among the top grossing theatres in the country, and its renovation has spurred retail development throughout the corridor.

Woodward is also home to the renovated Orchestra Hall and a wide variety of cultural institutions, including one of the country's top museums in the Detroit Institute of the Arts.

A number of other interesting facts set "Motown" apart from other cities in America. Did you know that Detroit...

  • Is home to the largest annual fireworks display in the world
  • Is home to the typewriter, patented by William Austin Burt in 1829
  • Is one of the five largest ports in the U.S., carrying nearly 30 million tons of cargo each year
  • Is home to the largest free jazz festival in North America, the Montreaux Detroit Jazz Festival
  • Was the first city to assign individual phone numbers (1879)
  • Is home to the tallest hotel in North America, the Marriott Renaissance Center.