On July 24, 1701, Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac stood in the heart of the wilderness on a bluff overlooking the Detroit
River and claimed this frontier in the name of Louis XIV; thus began the story of Detroit, a city marked by pioneering spirits, industrial acumen, and uncommon durability. Over the course of its 300-year history, Detroit has been sculpted into a city unique in the American experience by its extraordinary mixture of diverse cultures: American Indian, French, British, American colonial, and a variety of immigrant newcomers. Detroit: A Motor City History documents the major events that shaped this once-small French fur-trading outpost across three centuries of conflict and prosperity. Through informative text and a variety of imagery, readers experience firsthand the struggles of the nascent village against raiding Indian tribes and the incessant political and military tug of war between the colonial French and English, and then American interests. Like many other major cities across the United States, Detroit played a pivotal role in establishing the country's economic and industrial power in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, serving as a center for its well-known civilian and military mass-production resources. This visual history provides insight into Detroit's rapid evolution from a hamlet into a metropolis against a backdrop of important community and national affairs: the decimating fire of 1805, the War of 1812
, the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution
, the Great Depression
, and both world wars.
Detroit, from a French for straits, is in a strategically important location between lakes Erie and Huron. Sometimes called the second American war for independence, the War of 1812 was the last battle against foreign troops on American soil. The First Industrial Revolution introduced the use of power, from falling water and steam, as the motive force behind large-scale machinery in factories. The American economy felt into a slump after the Crash of 1929 and continued at low levesl throughout the next decade.