Detroit is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Michigan, and is the seat of Wayne County, the most populous county in the state and the largest city on the United States-Canada border. It is a primary business, cultural, financial and transportation center in the Metro Detroit area, a region of 5.2 million people, and serves as a major port on the Detroit River connecting the Great Lakes system to the Saint Lawrence Seaway. It was founded on July 24, 1701, by the French explorer and adventurer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac.
Known as the world's traditional automotive center, "Detroit" is a metonym for the American automobile industry and an important source of popular music legacies celebrated by the city's two familiar nicknames, the Motor City and Motown. Other nicknames arose in the 20th century, including City of Champions beginning in the 1930s for its successes in individual and team sport, The D, Hockeytown (a trademark owned by the city's NHL club, the Red Wings), Rock City (after the Kiss song "Detroit Rock City"), and The 313 (its telephone area code). Detroit's auto industry was an important element of the American "Arsenal of Democracy" supporting the Allied powers during World War II.
The state governor declared a financial emergency in March 2013, appointing an emergency manager. On July 18, 2013, Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history. It was declared bankrupt by U.S. judge Stephen Rhodes on December 3, who cited its $18.5 billion debt and declared that negotiations with its thousands of creditors were unfeasible.
In 1909, Wayne County built the first mile of concrete highway in the world on Woodward Avenue between Six and Seven Mile roads. In 1919, America's first 4-way three color traffic light was installed on the corner of Woodward and Michigan Avenues in Detroit 1. In 1930 the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel was completed making it the first traffic tunnel between two nations. By 1942, the world’s first urban freeway opened to the public, the Davison Freeway.
In August 20, 1920, 8MK, later renamed WWJ, is believed to be the first station to broadcast regular news reports that aired. Financed by The Detroit News, 8MK was initially licensed to Michael DeLisle Lyons. He assembled the station in the Detroit News Building. As was common practice in the early days of radio, the Scripps family asked Lyons to register the station in his name in case this rather new technology was only a fad.
Detroit is also home to Techno music and Motown. Back in 1960, the city of Detroit had the highest per-capita income in the United States.
Detroit was once the fourth-largest city in the United States, but over the past 60 years the population of Detroit has fallen by 63 percent. In 1950, there were about 296,000 manufacturing jobs in Detroit. Today, there are less than 27,000. Between December 2000 and December 2010, 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in the state of Michigan were lost.
Detroit is a dark city, with about 40% of its streetlights not functioning. The city currently has just 9,700 workers, yet has 21,000 retirees drawing benefits. Unemployment has tripled since 2000. As of June 2012, it's 18.3%, which is more than double the national average.
The number of employed residents has dropped more than 53% since 1970. About one-third of Detroit's 140 square miles is either vacant or derelict. Two-thirds of the parks in the city of Detroit have been permanently closed down since 2008. The per capita tax burden on Detroiters is the highest in Michigan, despite relatively low levels of income for city residents. The total assessed value of property in Detroit declined by 77% over the past 50 years in inflation-adjusted dollars. The city has unfunded pension liabilities of $3.5 billion. Its unfunded health care liabilities are $5.7 billion.
An estimated 47 percent of the residents of the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate. Less than half of the residents of Detroit over the age of 16 are working. 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.
In 2012, Detroit had the highest violent crime rate of any U.S. city with a population over 200,000, with the overall crime rate being five times the national average and the murder rate being 11 times higher than it is in New York City. The size of the police force in Detroit has been cut by about 40 percent over the past decade. Its citizens wait on average more than 58 minutes for the police to respond to their calls, compared to a national average of 11 minutes. Due to budget cutbacks, most police stations in Detroit are now closed to the public for 16 hours a day. Today, police solve less than 10 percent of the crimes that are committed in Detroit. Only about a third of the ambulances are running.