Detroit

Detroit  (dē-troit ´), Mich. [The “City of the Straits”; named from the river or strait on which the city is built. Derived from two French words, detroit, “the narrows.”]

It is situated on the Detroit River, eighteen miles from Lake Erie, at an altitude of six hundred feet. The river, sometimes called the “Dardanelles of the New World,” is here the boundary between the United States and Canada. It affords a splendid harbor, with a water-front of about nine miles. Ferries connect with the Canadian side. Many beautiful islands, with those of Lake St. Clair, are popular as places of summer residence and resort.

One of these, Belle Isle, is about seven hundred acres in extent and forms a beautiful public park, with fine trees, and still retaining many of its natural features unimpaired. It contains a statute of Schiller, a small zoological collection, a large aquarium and horticultural building, and a casino.

Woodward Avenue, the principal thoroughfare, divides the city into two very nearly equal parts. It is also the main business street, and at its northern end has many of the city's most prominent buildings. Its expansion, about half a mile from the river, is known as the Campus Martius, adorned with a handsome fountain, from which Michigan and Gratiot Avenues diverge to the left and right. To the left stands the City Hall, the tower of which contains a clock with a dial eight and one-half feet in diameter. In front of the City Hall is the Soldiers' Monument.

In Gratiot Avenue, near the Campus Martius, is the Public Library, containing two hundred and twenty thousand volumes and some historical relics. The Chamber of Commerce, at the corner of Griswold and State Streets, is thirteen stories high. The Post Office, in Fort Street, adjoining the site of the old Fort Lernoult, is a handsome building. In the same street, at the southeast corner of Shelby Street, is the State Savings Bank, and adjoining it on the east is the tall Penobscot Building.

Just to the east of the Campus Martius, in Cadillac Square, stands the County Building. It is in a plain renaissance style with a Corinthian portico over the main entrance, sculptures in the pediment, and a tower surmounted by a gilded dome. In front of it is the Cadillac Chair, erected in 1901 to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of the city's foundation.

A little farther on Woodward Avenue reaches Grand Circus Park, a square with trees, fountains, and a statue of ex-Governor Pingree. To the north, at the corner of Adams Street, is the Central Methodist Church, with a richly decorated interior. One block to the east, between Adams and Elizabeth Streets, is the new building of the Y. M. C. A. At the corner of Edmund Place, one-half mile farther on, are the First Unitarian and First Presbyterian churches, two fine Romanesque buildings of red stone. Between Erskine and Eliot Streets, to the right, is the Temple Bethel, an effective Jewish synagogue. Also to the right, at the head of Martin Place, is the handsome Harper Hospital; and Grace Hospital is also seen to the right (corner of Willis Avenue and John R. Street) a little farther on. To the left, a little higher up, is the Detroit Athletic Club. The north end of Woodward Avenue and the adjoining streets form the principal residence quarter.

Jefferson Avenue, which runs at right angles to Woodward Avenue, crossing it one-fifth mile from the river, contains many of the chief wholesale houses, and toward its northeast end has also many pleasant residences. The site of Fort Pontchartrain was at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Griswold Street, two squares to the west of Woodward Avenue. To the east, on the left side of the street, are the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul and the Jesuit College, and on the right side the Academy of the Sacred Heart. On the same side, at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Hastings Street, about one-half mile to the east of Woodward Avenue, stands the Museum of Art, containing paintings, sculptures and oriental curiosities.

The commerce of Detroit is enormous, a number of conditions favoring it as a commercial and industrial center. Its geographical position brings it into relation with an immense lake traffic and with the Canadian trade. About three-fourths of the total trade is with Canada. The principal exports are grain, wool, pork, lard, hides, and copper. It has important lumbering interests and large tanneries.

The manufactures include stoves, freight cars, drugs, varnish, paint, furniture, carriages, cigars, and matches. Other industries are those of iron and steel, foundry and machine shop products, and the manufacture of malt liquors.

The site of Detroit was visited by a party of Frenchmen as early as 1610, and again by La Salle in 1670, but no permanent settlement was made until 1701, when Sieur de la Mothe Cadillac, the first Governor of the French territory in this vicinity, built Fort Pontchartrain and established a small trading village. In 1815 Detroit was incorporated as a village, and in 1824 was chartered as a city by the Legislature of Michigan Territory. It was the capital of the Territory from 1805 to 1837, and of the State from 1837 to 1847.