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.
In 1987, 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, including The District Detroit which will be home to the largest professional sports teams in the city.
The District Detroit will be 50 blocks of thriving businesses, parks, restaurants, bars and event destinations. It will be home to the young and the young at heart, families, new residents and long-time residents who want to be where the action is. The District will connect Downtown and Midtown into one contiguous, walkable area, where families, sports fans, entrepreneurs, job seekers, entertainment lovers and others who crave a vibrant urban setting can connect with each other and the city they love.
Located in the heart of Detroit, this 50-block, mixed-use development led by the Ilitch organization unites six world-class theaters, five neighborhoods and three professional sports venues in one vibrant, walkable destination for people who want to live, work and play in an exciting urban environment.
Home to the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons and Detroit Lions - The District Detroit represents the greatest density of professional sports teams in one downtown core in the country.
This vibrant destination is becoming even more exciting, with plans for new restaurants, shops, bars, parks and more coming online as part of this transformational development project.
The District Detroit has something for everyone.