Demographic history of Detroit
Detroit's population began to expand rapidly based on resource extraction from around the Great Lakes region, especially lumber and mineral resources. It entered the period of largest and most rapid growth in the early 20th century and through World War II, with the development of the auto industry and related heavy industry. Attracting hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe, the Near East, and black and white migrants from the South, the city became a boom town. By 1920 it was the fourth-largest city in the country.
The population of Detroit increased more than 1,000 times between 1820 and 1930. Most of the increase occurred during the early decades of the 20th century. This massive population increase was driven by the expansion of the auto industry during the early twentieth century. By 1920 Detroit had become the fourth-largest city in the country and it held this position for decades. Postwar suburbanization and industrial restructuring caused massive job loss and population changes in the city.
Detroit was founded by Europeans in 1701 when the colonial French established a fort here as a center for trading. The European population numbered 100 French soldiers, farmers and merchants. The first women arrived in September. The fort attracted Native Americans of the region, and bands of various tribes settled nearby, including the Huron. They soon far outnumbered the French.
Detroit developed as the most important French city between Montreal and New Orleans, two major areas of colonial settlement. Its European population was 800 people in 1765, shortly after France ceded its territory east of the Mississippi River to Great Britain after being defeated in the Seven Years' War. By that time, most or all of the Native Americans had moved from the area.
By 1773, the population of Detroit was 1,400. By 1778, its population was 2,144 and it was the third largest city in the British Province of Quebec. At this time, the British considered it part of Quebec rather than the Thirteen Colonies.
After the American Revolutionary War and settlement of the northern boundary between Canada and the United States, Detroit and Michigan became part of US territory.
With the industrialization of the city, especially as the auto industry boomed, Detroit attracted numerous immigrants, especially before World War I. More than one-third of its population was consistently composed of immigrants. From at least 1880 to the 1980s, the greatest number of immigrants and their descendants living in Wayne County, Michigan (where Detroit is located) were from Central and Eastern Europe.
Detroit was the fourth-most populous city in the United States between 1920 and 1950.
The city's population increased more than sixfold during the first half of the 20th century, fed largely by an influx of European, Middle Eastern (Lebanese, Assyrian/Chaldean), and Southern migrants to work in the burgeoning automobile industry.
Migrants from the South included both whites and blacks. In 1910, about 6,000 blacks lived in the city. During the first wave of the Great Migration, thousands of African Americans settled in Detroit, as part of the total of 1.5 million blacks who left the South up to 1940 for opportunities in the North and Midwest. The booming auto industry and related businesses provided opportunities. By 1930 more than 120,000 blacks lived in Detroit.
The white population also increased rapidly, as noted above with increased immigration. In 1940, whites made up 90.4% of the city's population.
In the 1940s alone, the expansion of the defense industry resulted in Detroit's population growing by 350,000 people from 1940 to 1943. The booming defense industries attracted large numbers of workers, who enjoyed higher wages but found very little available housing. The defense industries attracted 50,000 blacks from the South in the second wave of the Great Migration, along with 300,000 whites, the latter mostly from rural Appalachia and Southern States. The population of the city peaked in 1950.
Due to postwar suburbanization and massive job losses in the region from industrial restructuring, the population of Detroit decreased by about 60% by 2010. Detroit was in the top ten most populous cities in the United States between 1910 and the 2000-2009 decade, and  Given its population decreases between 2000 and 2010, and the growth in other cities, Detroit ranked as the 18th-most populous city in the United States in 2010.
From the 1940s to the 1970s, a second wave of blacks moved to Detroit to escape Jim Crow laws in the south and find better work. They were generally restricted in housing choices and excluded from white areas of the city—through violence, laws, and economic discrimination (e.g., redlining). White residents attacked black homes: breaking windows, starting fires, and exploding bombs.
The pattern of segregation was exacerbated by white migration to the suburbs in the postwar era, accelerated by fear after the massive 1967 Detroit riot.
The white population of the city peaked in 1950 and then steadily declined due to white flight, and net outmigration through 2010. The white population fell 95% between the 1950 and 2010 censuses. However, in an apparent turn-around, the Detroit News reported in its September 17, 2015 edition that the white population of the city is rising, with a reported increase in white residents from 2013 to 2014 of nearly 8,000. This is the first measurable increase in Detroit's white population since 1950, when the city was 84% white.
Also, Native Americans have had a small community in Detroit. They have a Native American cultural center in nearby Redford Township. In the 1930s and early 40s, thousands of Creek (Muscogee) and Cherokee from Oklahoma settled in Detroit. The federal government encouraged such urban relocation so that Native Americans would have access to more jobs and other opportunities.
The Hispanic population of Detroit rapidly increased after 1940, especially during the late 20th century as immigration laws were changed. In 2010 the Hispanic population of Detroit was ten times higher than in 1940. Since the 1980s, the largest overseas immigrant groups in Wayne County have come from Asia and the Middle East.
|Demographic history profile of Detroit, Michigan, Between 1820-2010|
"7.2 Sq Mi"; a 2013 report created by a coalition of Data Driven Detroit, Downtown Detroit Partnership, Midtown Detroit Inc., and the Detroit Economic Growth Corp.; outlined the demographics of the following communities: Downtown, Corktown, Eastern Market, the eastern riverfront, Lafayette Park, Midtown, New Center, and Woodbridge, a total of 7.2 square miles (19 km2), according to the 2010 U.S. Census data. This central area is not as wealthy as comparable central areas in Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and other similar cities, yet its residents have more ethnic diversity and are wealthier than other areas of Detroit. Eric Lacy of MLive wrote "Consider that data either proof downtown Detroit is on an upswing, other neighborhoods are deteriorating fast or a mixture of both."
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The thousands of African-Americans who flocked to Detroit were part of the "Great Migration" of the twentieth century.
- Reynolds Farley; Sheldon Danziger; Harry J. Holzer (2002). "The Evolution of Racial Segregation". Detroit divided. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. ISBN 978-0-87154-281-6.
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- Darden, Joe; Rahbar, Mohammad; Jezierski, Louise; Li, Min; Velie, Ellen (January 1, 2010). "The Measurement of Neighborhood Socioeconomic Characteristics and black and white Residential Segregation in Metropolitan Detroit: Implications for the Study of Social Disparities in Health". Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 100 (1): 137–158. doi:10.1080/00045600903379042.
In 2000, metropolitan Detroit was the most racially segregated large metropolitan area in the United States (Darden, Stokes, and Thomas 2007). Accompanying such extreme racial residential segregation is extreme class segregation.
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- Gallagher, John. "Downtown Detroit has more wealth, diversity than city as whole, report says" (Archive). Detroit Free Press. February 18, 2013. Retrieved on June 14, 2015.
- Lacy, Eric. "Downtown Detroit (7.2 square miles) is more diverse, educated and wealthy than rest of city, report says" (Archive). MLive. February 18, 2013. Retrieved on June 14, 2015.
- "7.2 SQ MI: Report on Greater Downtown Detroit Second Edition."
- "7.2 SQ MI: Report on Greater Downtown Detroit" (original 2013 document)