The city of Detroit has gone through a major economic and demographic decline in recent decades. The population of the city has fallen from a high of 1,850,000 in 1950 to 701,000 in 2013. The city’s automobile industry has suffered from global competition and has moved much of the remaining production out of Detroit. Local crime rates are among the highest in the United States, and vast areas of the city are in a state of severe urban decay. In 2013, Detroit filed the largest municipal bankruptcy case in U.S. history, which it successfully exited on December 10, 2014. However, poverty, crime, and urban blight in Detroit continue to be ongoing problems.
With all of that said, Detroit established itself as the epicenter of innovation and industry in the United States in the early part of the 20th century. It left a legacy through its historical architecture that reflected the money, power and innovation the city represented.
The Historical Architecture of Detroit
During the 19th century, Detroit grew into a thriving hub of commerce and industry, and the city spread along Jefferson Avenue, with multiple manufacturing firms taking advantage of the transportation resources afforded by the river and a parallel rail line. In the late 19th century, several Gilded Age mansions were built just east of Detroit’s current downtown. Detroit was referred to by some as the ‘Paris of the West’ for its architecture, and for Washington Boulevard, recently electrified by Thomas Edison. Throughout the 20th century, various skyscrapers were built centered on Detroit’s downtown. Many areas of the city are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and included national historic landmarks. As the city grew, its wealth and power were reflected in the grand architecture of the time. The builders spared no expense and flaunted the wealth and prosperity of the city.
A pictorial exploration of the grandest of Detroit’s architecture is featured here.
From the Factory Floor
Proud to be Made in America