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Detroit
Wayne Co Michigan




Postcard from CardCow.Com - featuring Whitney Bldg., Statler Bldg., and Tuller Hotel

The City of Detroit
by William Stocking in the book "The Detroiters 1908"

Detroit comes by fair inheritance to the title of a beautiful city. Its founder, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who, with about one hundred followers, first pulled his bateaux ashore on the 24th of July, 1701, used glowing terms in describing his place of landing; "where the living and crystal waters keep the banks always green; where natural orchards soften and bend their branches under the weight and quantity of their fruit; where the ambitious vine, which has never wept under the pruning knife, builds a thick roof with its large leaves and heavy clusters, weighing down the top of the tree which received it, and often stifling it in its embrace; where the woods are full of game and the waters of fish; and where the swans in the river are so numerous that one might take for lilies the reeds in which they crowd together." Having thus lauded the beautiful site of the future city, its founders proceeded to disfigure it with stockade and fort and barrack, with rude dwellings huddled along narrow and muddy streets, obliterating every sign of verdure, scarcely a tree being left within cannon shot of the fort. Their successors for more than a hundred years lived in equal indifference to the appearance of the town.

PLAN OF THE MODERN CITY

In 1805 fire swept off every house, save one. This gave opportunity of an entire remodeling of the place. Under authority of a special congressional act, the old land titles were extinguished and lots, selected upon a new platting, were apportioned to the old owners as well as offered for sale. The town, which received its first city charter the same year, and the territory as well, were under the anomalous rule of the Governor and three Supreme Court judges, who combined legislative, executive and judicial functions. The master spirit of this body was the chief justice, Augustus B. Woodward, who had spent some time in Washington, and had become enamored of the plan of the city as first conceived by the eminent French architect, L’Enfant. The judge adapted that plan to the requirements of Detroit. As originally designed, a complete circle, called the Grand Circus, was to be the central point. Through the center of this were to be two streets 120 feet wide, dividing it into quarters. From the outer rim of the circle were to be avenues, alternately 200 and 120 feet wide. As the city grew new focal points were to be established where avenues met the streets radiating from the Grand Circus, and numerous open spaces would have dotted the city.

The plan met with derision from the associates of Judge Woodward and was ridiculed by the people. But it was carried out in part. The south half of the Grand Circus remains. From it radiate two avenues with 200 feet width and two 120 feet. Through its center runs Woodward avenue, 120 feet wide, extending from the river six miles to the northerly city limits, the lower end being the center of the principal retail district, and the rest of it the location of some of the finest residence sections. Part of the plan remains, also, in the Campus Martius and Cadillac Square, one half mile south of the Grand Circus, open spaces, around which are grouped the City Hall, the County Building, the largest hotel, the largest opera house and a number of modern office buildings. Crossing Woodward avenue at right angles, still farther down, is Jefferson avenue, also 120 feet wide. The lower end is devoted to wholesale houses; other portions of it are adorned with handsome residences surrounded by spacious grounds. Numerous triangular parks were formed by the intersections of diagonal streets, and the transformation from the irregular and uninviting town to the well planned and attractive city was complete. The example of wide streets set by these portions of the Governor and Judge’s plan has been followed by many subsequent plattings. There are three long business avenues 100 feet wide and many residence streets 60 and 80 feet wide. Tree planting was encouraged at a very early date and has ever since been continued, so that the city has become known as one of well shaded as well as wide and well paved streets.

PARK AND BOULEVARD SYSTEM

The park and boulevard system has worthily supplemented the original platting. In the river, opposite the east end of the city, is an island, 700 acres in extent, which was acquired by the city 30 years ago. Its surface was originally forest and swamp. Part of the forest has been left in its native wildness; other portions have been cleared and transformed under the touch of skillful landscape artists. The swamps have been displace by lakes, and these, connected by canals, give a long stretch of enticing waters for rowboats and canoes.

A portion of the center is occupied by a zoological enclosure. Near by is a horticultural building and an aquarium that ranks among the best in the world. These, with other attractions, make the island one of the most unique and interesting parks in the country. Belle Isle is connected with the main land by a bridge about half a mile long. From this starts the Grand Boulevard, 150 feet, and in some places 200 feet, wide and twelve miles long, encircling the city and terminating in a small park and dock at the western end. The roadway is macadamized and the sides and center have park-like treatment through the whole length. Palmer Park of 140 acres in the northerly part of the city, Clark Park of 30 acres in the western part, and smaller parks on the river front and other sections add to the attractions which together have given Detroit the deserved reputation of being one of the most beautiful cities in the country.

CHANGES IN GOVERNMENT
Detroit has a unique as well as long history. It was under the French flag from the time of its founding till 1760; when it surrendered to the British. It became nominally American in 1783, though it and other northwestern posts were not finally surrendered till 1796. The post was occupied by the British again August 16, 1812, but returned to American control September 20, 1813. When French, the city and territory were governed from Quebec; under the British, from Quebec and Fort Niagara. When the United States flag was first raised here Michigan was part of the Northwest Territory, with the seat of government successively at Marietta and Chillicothe. In 1812 it became part of Indiana Territory, with the seat of government at Vincennes. In 1805, the town of Detroit became the seat of government of Michigan Territory, which at one time included all the present state of Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and a large part of North Dakota. It has had five separate city charters, the first in 1805, the second in 1824, the third in 1827, the fourth in 1857 and the fifth in 1883. In spite of its first city charter, its corporate name was the "Town of Detroit" till 1815. Then it was the "City of Detroit" till 1827, when it was enacted that the corporate name should be "The Mayor, Recorder and Alderman of Detroit." In 1857 it was enacted that it should be "The City of Detroit," and such it has remained ever since.

Although the French lost their official supremacy after 60 years of occupation, the place remained French in many of its characteristics for 60 years there after. Aside from the garrisons in the fort, the people were mostly French, retaining their old habits, customs, diversions and religion, entirely satisfied with a paternal government. As late as 1818 the question of substituting as elective territorial government for the rule of the appointive Governor and Judges was voted down. About that time migration from New England and New York state set toward Michigan, and when in 1824 the first really republican form of government was adopted, the Governor, the Territorial Secretary, all four of the Supreme Court Judges and nearly half the Territorial Council were men of New England birth. New York and New England influences were strongly felt in Michigan and in Detroit for half a century after that.

MERCANTILE INTERESTS

Detroit was little more than a fur trading and military post until after the movement from the east commenced. The first comers brought with them New England industry and thrift, though but little capital. As settlements increased they began reaching out for country trade, established Detroit as an important wool and wheat market and laid the foundations of the large wholesale trade which the city possesses today. Detroit was from the outset the natural commercial metropolis of the country west and north. It was the terminus of the stage and steamboat lines from the east and was the converging point of the territorial roads which opened the way to the new settlements. It was nearly along the line of their roads that the first railroads were built, and many of the railroads since constructed have had Detroit as a starting or objective point. The first railroad through Canada also had this point for its terminus, while the water connection with the upper lake region was unsurpassed. For a time this city had almost a monopoly of the "up-country" trade. The movements of the first and last boats of the season were important events.

The advantage which location gave was followed up by an enterprising and energetic body of men who personally pushed their trade. It is an interesting fact that, of the Detroit pioneers in this trade, one afterwards became Michigan’s most distinguished Senator and two others became governors of the state. The advantages of location have continued, and with the growth of the city and the settlement of the country the field covered has widened. It now includes not only the whole of Michigan but northern Ohio and Indiana; parts of Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and in some branches, Canada and South Dakota. For all lines Detroit has some advantages over the larger eastern cities. Rents and taxes are much less. Crating, cartage and terminal charges are light compared with those in New York. On many goods there is a great advantage in freights. Detroit dry goods merchants early commenced the direct importation of goods from Europe and have always continued the practice. Many American-made goods are bought direct from the manufacturer, thus making a saving of one commission to the country merchant. In some lines goods are laid down in Detroit at the same price as in New York, thus saving the country merchant freight as well as commission. Similar advantages accrue to other lines. As a consequence Detroit stands well in all branches of wholesale trade, and pre-eminent in some. It is one of the best wholesale drug markets in the country, being second in the volume of its business only to Philadelphia. It ranks high as a hardware market, and has some superior advantages for the general grocery trade and its specialized branches. The wholesale dealers to the number of 100 have recently organized an efficient association for the purpose of further promoting their interests. The industrial prosperity and rapid growth of Detroit make it a particularly good point for all branches of the retail trade. But it has one peculiar advantage. Its suburban railway system makes it the center of a metropolitan district having a radius of 60 to 70 miles in every direction. The district, including the city, contains nearly on-fourth the population of the state. Every city and village in the district is reached by the trolley system, which gives frequent and rapid service, both passenger and freight. This addition to the natural advantages for retail business which the city possesses is of great value to trade.

NAVAGATION AND SHIPBUILDING

Situated on the great waterway that connects the Lower with the Upper lakes, Detroit has always had a large share in the lake navigation interests and the trade which depends upon water for transportation. Its river front constitutes the most accessible and safest harbor on the whole chain of lakes, and one of the best in the world for loading and unloading. The river has no tides like those which embarrass commerce at salt water ports. It never overflows its banks and never dries up. It is so thoroughly land-locked that its surface is but little disturbed in the severest storms. It is deep enough for the largest vessels that float on inland waters, and its channel bank is near enough the shore to give it a convenient dock line. There is not a day during the navigation season when a vessel may not load or unload without inconvenience. The frontage on Detroit river is about nine miles, with a channel depth of thirty to fifty feet, and that on the river Rouge is four miles with a depth of sixteen feet.

These waterway facilities have not only given a great stimulus to trade and furnished an incitement to profitable investments in navigation interests, but they have made Detroit the leading shipbuilding port on the lakes. Canoes, bateaux and small craft have been built here from almost the earliest times. The first large vessel was built in 1852. The first double-decked vessel for carrying iron ore was built here. The first yard in the west for constructing iron hulls was located in the neighboring village of Wyandotte and was owned by Detroit capital. All types of vessels, from the scow and tow barge up to the largest freighters and the finest passenger steamers have been built at yards in the Detroit district. Always prominent, this port has in the past three years held a position of undisputed supremacy. The addition of a new company and improved facilities of the old brought it to the from in 1905. Of large freight vessels its two companies that year launched 14, with a total tonnage of 134,400. The output of the next largest port on the lakes was 10, with a tonnage of 85,500. For some of the vessels built in Detroit the contracts were made, the keels laid, the vessels launched, equipped and put in commission before the close of the season in which they were commenced, showing a degree of expedition in construction that was a marvel to old vesselmen. The freighters, with a floating dry dock, a large tug, with some smaller work and repairs made an aggregate of about $5,000,000 in value. To this nearly half a million dollars was added in yachts, launches, rowboats and canoes. The industry gives employment to over 5,000 men. In 1906 the Detroit yards launched 13 freighters, with 108,000 tonnage, besides a large passenger steamer and a large car ferry. In the next largest district, the number of freighters launched was 13, and the total tonnage 108,800. On the first of January, 1907, the freight vessels under contract in the Detroit district for delivery during the year numbered 17, with aggregate tonnage of 13,500. Contract for freight vessels in the next largest district numbered 13, with tonnage of 110,500. The Detroit contract for the year also included the largest and most costly passenger steamer ever built on the lakes, to cost $1,250,000. One of the Detroit companies also had the contract for the tubes for the tunnel under the Detroit river, which is essentially marine work.

MANUFACTURING INDUSTRIES

Manufacturing came later in Detroit than mercantile or navigation interests, but it is now the most important source of the city’s prosperity. It is fostered by the advantages of water transportation already mentioned. To these are added others equally good for carriage by rail. It is both a terminal and crossing point for the two great Michigan railroad systems that reach almost every city and village in the state. It is on five of the great trunk lines between the East and the West. It has excellent connections with the whole Southwest. Recent additions to its line give it the best of southern connections, together with entrance into the coal fields of Ohio and West Virginia. It is a terminal point also for the two principal Canadian systems of railway, which reach every place of importance in the Dominion and the maritime provinces. A belt line encircles the city, crossing all of the railroads and facilitating the transfers of freight. A second belt line, to extend around the city at a uniform distance of six mile from the City Hall, has been commenced. Unexcelled residence attractions, bout for employers and employees, favorable labor conditions, good municipal government, a light public debt, a low rate of taxation and an excellent home market are among the other inducements to the location of factories in Detroit.

The city first cut an appreciable figure in the census returns of manufactures in 1860. In the next ten years the capital invested increased 256 per cent. and the value of the product 303 per cent. increased by a much larger percentage than the quantity of the output. From 1870 to 1880 was a period of declining values, and while the quantity of manufactured goods increased, the total returns for the product remained nearly stationary. Since 1880 each decade has shown a substantial increase. In that year Detroit was the nineteenth city in the country in the value of its manufactured product; in 1890 it was sixteenth and in 1900 it was fifteenth; it is now probably as high as twelfth. Within the past seven years Detroit has made a more rapid growth than in any previous period of equal length, and more rapid than any other city of its class. A state census taken in 1904, with the aid of federal agents, furnished a measure of the first part of this expansion. Some of the items from the official table were as follows:

1900 1904
Increase Number of Establishments 1,263 1,363 7.9 Capital employed $67,544,972 $91,228,214 35.1 Number of wage earners 38,481 48,879 27.0 Wages paid 15,392,527 22,786,576 48.0 Cost of Materials 47,175,012 66,794,969 41.6 Value of product
88,649,634
128,761,658
45.2
The figures are only for establishments working under the factory system. If hand traders were included as they were in the government table up to 1900, they would add from $12,000,000 to $15,000,000 to the product. Manufactories in adjacent villages, which were for business purposes essentially a part of Detroit, had a product in 1900 of about $10,000,000, and in 1904 of $12,000,000. Three of these villages have since been annexed to the city. The latest reports of the state factory inspectors supplement these figures by others giving still more striking indications of growth. In 1905 the inspectors visited 1,576 factories in Detroit with 76,730 employees. In 1906 they visited 1,638 with 86,370 employees. The census classification failed to give some of the most important industries separately, and for a number of them business has been much more active since than it was in the census year. For these reasons the Board of Commerce undertook a separate inquiry upon the business of 1905 and has followed it up by subsequent investigation. Unprecedented activity in carbuilding, shipbuilding and some of the iron manufactories, and the addition of new industries brought the total product for 1905 up to $170,000,000 and for 1906 to $180,000,000. The output of some of the leading industries for 1906 was a follows: Car building, freight, passenger and electric
$25,000,000
Automobiles 12,000,000 Druggists’ preparations 10,900,000 Clothing, knit goods, boots and shoes, etc. 10,500,000 Paints and varnish 10,000,000 Coarse chemicals 10,000,000 Stove and steam heating apparatus 9,300,000 Food products, aside from meats 9,500,000 Foundry and machine shop products 9,500,000 Slaughtering and meat packing 5,500,000 Newspaper publishing 5,200,000 Other printing and publishing 5,000,000 Furniture 5,500,000 Tobacco and cigars 4,500,000 Malt Liquors
3,600,000

DETROIT’S EXPORTS AND IMPORTS

Along the boundary which separates the United States from the Dominion of Canada, extending from Maine to Montana, there are twenty three customs districts through which pass all the merchandise that crosses the border for Canadian consumption of for trans-shipment through Montreal and Quebec to European ports. The custom houses are located at the crossing points of railroads along the land boundary, and at the leading ports on the Great lakes and connecting rivers.

The situation of Detroit at the gateway between the East and West, the fact that it is a terminal point of the two principal Canadian railway systems and the crossing point of several American railroads early established its supremacy as a point of departure for goods intended for the foreign markets. Its shipments are far in excess of those of any other port. For a number of years they were about one-sixth of the whole. The last two years they have exceeded one-fifth of the whole. They showed some fluctuations during the periods of tariff uncertainty and changing foreign trade from fifteen to twenty years ago. Those for 1889 were 50 per cent. larger than for 1888 and 43 per cent. Larger than for 1890. There was a large increase from 1890 to 1891 and a small falling off from 1891 to 1892, but since the latter year the tide of domestic merchandise that flows across Detroit river to foreign ports has steadily risen. In 1892 the total was about $6,000.000; in 1897 it was $11,500,000; five years later it had reached $18,694,000, and in 1907 it exceeded $40,000,000. These exports are as varied in character as they are large in volume. Of the 350 classes and sub-classes into which the schedule is divided, 290 are represented in the tables of Detroit exports. The largest single class is provisions, which in 1906 amounted to $11,560,000. Of this, hog products accounted for $10,335,000. It represented in part the output of Detroit packing houses; in much larger part those of Chicago and Kansas City. Iron and steel and manufactures thereof were represented in 44 classes, with a total value of nearly $6,000,000, representing a great variety of Detroit manufactures.

Cotton and the manufactures thereof amounted to $5,042,000, of which $4,918,000 was for the raw material. The export of breadstuffs amounted to $2,562,000, of which $1,918,000 was in corn. The following classes also exceeded half a million dollars in value each: Live animals, $1842,000 of which $1,47200 was in cattle; coal and coke, $797,000 of which $751,000 was bituminous coal; cars, carriages and other vehicles, $615,000, of which $270,000 was in automobiles.

One of the most striking features of the exports from Detroit is the immense proportion of them that goes to the English speaking peoples. In 1903 Great Britain, its colonies and dependencies took $22,403,535 of our products and all the rest of the world only $345,659. In 1904 the proportions were $23,271,205 to the British possessions against $129,646 to other countries. In 1905 the proportions were $31,800,210 to $55,170; in 1906 they were $36,504,448 to $158,748. Of the latter, Japan is represented by $73,539 and Belgium by $67,436, with insignificant amounts to Germany, France, Switzerland and China, and one shipment each to Siam and the Fiji Islands. In considering Detroit’s export trade it should always be borne in mind that the government statistical tables indicate the point of departure of merchandise sent abroad, and not the point at which it originates. Detroit’s location with reference alike to its own country and to Canada, and the character of its manufactures, tends to an especially distinct separation of these two classes. Many of its heaviest exports come from farther west and south while most of its own manufactures make their way to foreign markets through Atlantic and pacific ports. Exports of the latter class are numerous and varied. They include some very bulky articles as well as finer goods. Three or four of the largest dry kilns in Russia are of Detroit manufacture; Detroit-built cars roll over the railways of Canada, Mexico, Spain and Russia; the largest brewery in South Africa is fitted with pumps and water valves of Detroit make; Detroit-made automobiles are traveling in nearly every country that has passable roads, even to India, Burma and Siam; Detroit-made agricultural implements go to a number of European countries, and Detroit furniture is making headway in the same markets; Detroit pianos and Detroit self players are found in the homes of a number of European countries; Detroit stoves and radiators have been sold in England and on the continent; Detroit-made adding machines are sold in almost every country that has any system of commercial accounts; Detroit manufactories originated ready mixed paints, and those now have a wide distribution over the world; pharmaceutical preparations manufactured in Detroit go into every country whose people have physical ills to heal; heavy clothing to the Canadian lumber woods and mines; boots and shoes go to Canada and the West Indies; toys to France and Germany; plumbers supplies to Great Britain, to the continent of Europe and to South America; picture frame moldings to Germany; carriages to the mountains of South America; motor boats to England, Russia and Africa; smelting furnaces to the foundries of Germany; these are only a part of Detroit’s contributions to the army of commercial invasion of foreign markets.

The imports at Detroit are less extensive and less varied than the exports, but they are steadily increasing. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 1900, the were valued at $2,794,909; in 1903 at $4,311,186; in 1906 $5,596,153, and in 1907 $6,252,034. The statements of the Detroit banks and trust companies reflect the general prosperity, and furnish an additional indication of the increase of business during the past four years. The following are aggregates of the principal items of statements made at the dates nearest together in 1903 and 1907 In considering Detroit’s export trade it should always be borne in mind that the government statistical tables indicate the point of departure of merchandise sent abroad, and not the point at which it originates. Detroit’s location with reference alike to its own country and to Canada, and the character of its manufactures, tends to an especially distinct separation of these two classes. Many of its heaviest exports come from farther west and south while most of its own manufactures make their way to foreign markets through Atlantic and pacific ports. Exports of the latter class are numerous and varied. They include some very bulky articles as well as finer goods. Three or four of the largest dry kilns in Russia are of Detroit manufacture; Detroit-built cars roll over the railways of Canada, Mexico, Spain and Russia; the largest brewery in South Africa is fitted with pumps and water valves of Detroit make; Detroit-made automobiles are traveling in nearly every country that has passable roads, even to India, Burma and Siam; Detroit-made agricultural implements go to a number of European countries, and Detroit furniture is making headway in the same markets; Detroit pianos and Detroit self players are found in the homes of a number of European countries; Detroit stoves and radiators have been sold in England and on the continent; Detroit-made adding machines are sold in almost every country that has any system of commercial accounts; Detroit manufactories originated ready mixed paints, and those now have a wide distribution over the world; pharmaceutical preparations manufactured in Detroit go into every country whose people have physical ills to heal; heavy clothing to the Canadian lumber woods and mines; boots and shoes go to Canada and the West Indies; toys to France and Germany; plumbers supplies to Great Britain, to the continent of Europe and to South America; picture frame moldings to Germany; carriages to the mountains of South America; motor boats to England, Russia and Africa; smelting furnaces to the foundries of Germany; these are only a part of Detroit’s contributions to the army of commercial invasion of foreign markets. The imports at Detroit are less extensive and less varied than the exports, but they are steadily increasing. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 1900, the were valued at $2,794,909; in 1903 at $4,311,186; in 1906 $5,596,153, and in 1907 $6,252,034. only $345,659. In 1904 the proportions were $23,271,205 to the British possessions against $129,646 to other countries. In 1905 the proportions were $31,800,210 to $55,170; in 1906 they were $36,504,448 to $158,748. Of the latter, Japan is represented by $73,539 and Belgium by $67,436, with insignificant amounts to Germany, France, Switzerland and China, and one shipment each to Siam and the Fiji Islands.\par The statements of the Detroit banks and trust companies reflect the general prosperity, and furnish an additional indication of the increase of business during the past four years. The following are aggregates of the principal items of statements made at the dates nearest together in 1903 and 1907

THE GAIN IN POPULATION

The census tables in Detroit present an interesting study. The population according to the United States enumeration at the end of the different decades, and the state enumeration in 1904, with the percentages of increase, were as follows:
*Decrease Percent
Year Population Increase 1810 1,650 -- 1820 1,442 *7 1830 2,222 54 1840 9,102 311 1850 21,019 123 1860 45,619 117 1870 79,577 74 1880 116,340 46 1890 205,876 77 1900 285,704 39 1904 317,519 11 From 1810 to 1820 the population of the state increased 87 per cent., while that of the city fell off. Between 1820 and 1830 the population of the territory increased 256 per cent., while that of Detroit increased only 54 percent. In the next decade the territory increased 577 per cent. and the city 311. Since then the city has gained steadily on the rest of the commonwealth in which it is situated. In 1840 it had one twenty-third part of the population of the state; now it has about one-seventh. These variations in the percentage of increase in population and its relation to that of the state are easily explainable. Between 1810 and 1820 occurred the British occupation of Detroit and losses by ware in this vicinity, and the people became scattered. The decade from 1820 to 1830 was the period in which the opening of the Erie Canal started a rural migration westward, and the settlement of the interior of Michigan received its first impulse. The newcomers did not tarry in the city. Between 1870 and 1880 occurred the panic of 1873, and the business depression which lasted for over four years. The demand for manufactured goods diminished, with corresponding falling off in consumption and in the demand for labor. Foreign immigration and the rush of men from the country to the cities declined, and a low percentage in the increase of urban settlement was the result. Between 1880 and 1890 business was more prosperous, labor was in great demand, building revived and the current of population again set toward the industrial centers. In this decade also there was a large annexation of adjacent territory to Detroit. Between 1890 and 1900 occurred another long period of business depression, commencing with the panic of 1893, aggravated by the legislation of 1894 and by tariff uncertainties for three years longer. Since the present decade opened all conditions have been favorable. Everything indicates a larger actual increase in population in the present than in any previous decade and a larger percentage of increase than in any period since 1860. More new industries have been added to the city in the last seven years than in the preceding fifteen. The amount of building done in the city in 1906 was unprecedented; in 1907 it was larger yet and still rents are scarce. On the east and west both manufacturing and residence have for some years extended in such continuous line that a person in passing would not guess where the city ended and the villages began. Four of these villages, with a present population of over 25,000, have been annexed to the city since 1904. These annexations, the number of new dwellings erected and the water board enumeration unite in indicating a population of about 407,000 in June 1907. In 1830 Detroit stood fifty-third in population among the cities of this country; in 1840 it was thirty-first; in 1850, twenty-third; in 1860, eighteenth; in 1870 and 1880 it was seventeenth; in 1890, fourteenth, and in 1900, thirteenth. It is now ninth.

DETROIT’S FINANCIAL SYSTEM

Good municipal government has been an important factor in promoting the growth of the city. The most valuable feature of this is the management of the municipal finances, which is unique and conservative. The charter limit of its bonded indebtedness is 2 per cent. of the assessed valuation, and even that moderate amount is rarely approached. All measures for raising money, whether by the tax levy or by issuing bonds, must be approved by a Board of Estimates, which has acted as an effectual check upon excessive demands by the departments. This board consists of two members from each ward and five members at large, who are elected upon a general ticket. They hold office for two years. The heads of departments are members, ex officio, with the privilege of speaking, but not of voting. The Board has no patronage and its members must not be interested in any city contracts. It has been in existence for twenty years. A majority of its members have always been substantial, tax paying citizens, and its influence has been almost invariable favorable to a judicious economy. The charter provides that itemized estimates of the different departments must be sent annually to the controller, who must forward them, with his recommendations to the common council on or before the last day of February. The council takes a month for their consideration and then sends them to the Board of Estimates, which may decrease or disapprove any item, but cannot increase any. The budget is divided among a number of committees, which usually have been very thorough in their examination of the municipal needs. Their reports are considered in committee of the whole, item by item , and are again gone over in general session before their final adoption. By reason of the triple examination o f the budget required by the charter, closing with the careful scrutiny given to every item by the Board of Estimates, frauds have been almost unknown in Detroit’s financial affairs and the tax levy has been remarkably free from extravagant appropriations, and no moneys shall be transferred from one fund to another. Under this system the tax levy has been kept down to the moderate figures shown in the following table, covering the past five years the preceding fifteen. The amount of building done in the city in 1906 was unprecedented; in 1907 it was larger yet and still rents are scarce. On the east and west\par both manufacturing and residence have for some years extended in such continuous line that a person in passing would not guess where the city ended and the villages began. Four of these villages, with a present population of over 25,000, have been annexed to the city since 1904. These annexations, the number of new dwellings erected and the water board enumeration unite in indicating a population of about 407,000 in June 1907. In 1830 Detroit stood fifty-third in population among the cities of this country; in 1840 it was thirty-first; in 1850, twenty-third; in 1860, eighteenth

Year Assessment Tax Levy Rate Mills 1903 $271,868,920 $4,270,392 16.57 1904 277,962,370 4,083,401 15.33 1905 287,268,670 4,051,463 14.70 1906 305,656,900 4,317,506 14.72 1907 335,759,980 4,996,786 15.49 In the last two years the annexation of new territory added a larger percentage to the cost of the city government than it did to the assessment roll. Additional amounts for schools, the boulevard and other permanent improvements ere raised by the issue of bonds. But even with this the appropriations are believed to be less in proportion to the population than those of any other large city in the country. The net debt of the city July 1, 1907, was $5,184,054, and there were besides $824,000 in bonds authorized but not issued. If these are all used, the debt will still be $712,000 within the prescribed 2 per cent. limit. It may be remarked the debt is only about one-third that of Buffalo and one-fourth that of Cleveland, lake cities of the same class as Detroit. For payment of that portion of the debt that was incurred previous to 1902 the current receipts of the sinking fund make ample provision. For payment of the later bonds a sinking fund is provided by a tax of 2 ½ percent. of the face of the bonds in each annual tax levy.

In brief space may be summed a few additional facts. *** The city has an area of 41 square miles, with 670 miles of street, of which 340 miles are paved. It has 190 miles of public sewers and over 400 miles of lateral sewers. *** Public parks and parkways, 28; 1,181 acres; value, $7,428,900. *** Police Department, 604 men, 6 matrons, 14 police stations; value of buildings and lots, $318,900. *** Fire Department, 537 men, 28 engine houses, 11 ladder trucks and houses; cost of buildings and lots, $643,735. *** School buildings, 85; public school pupils, 44, 800; teachers in public schools, 1,084; value of school buildings and lots, $4,739,770. *** Public library, 228,500 volumes. *** Electric lighting plant owned by city; arc lights, 3, 241; incandescent lights, 17,527; cost of plant, $1,034,128.26. *** Water works owned by city; supply brought from Lake St. Clair; capacity, 152,000,000 gallons; daily average pumped, 61,357,019 gallons; cost of plant $7,076,946.84. *** Street railways, city and interurban, owned or operated by one company, 741 miles. *** Building permits 1903, calendar year, 2,894; estimated cost, $6,912,600; in 1906, permits, 4,705; cost, $13,282,350. *** Post office receipts 1903, $1,011,571; in 1906, $1,515,407.

THE BOARD OF COMMERCE

A potent influence in the business and civic life of Detroit is the Board of Commerce, whose existence is almost coincident in time with the period of the city’s most rapid growth. The Board was formed by the combination of three other commercial associations, and completed its organization of three other commercial associations, and completed its organization June 30, 1903. It includes in its membership representatives of all the large manufacturing corporations and mercantile firms, bankers, capitalists, retired business men and members of all the learned professions. It has been instrumental in bringing many new factories here; in creating the best possible industrial and municipal conditions; in securing favorable freight rates and close railroad connections. Having civic as well as commercial purposes, it has inaugurated movements for beautifying the city; has aided in maintaining a low rate of taxation, and has been responsive to every effort to secure clean and capable municipal administration in all departments. It works mainly through committees, for whose membership it has been able to command the services of many of the most capable business and professional men in the city. It has aimed to foster civic pride and to aid in the creation of such residential, civic and industrial conditions as to verify its motto, "In Detroit - "Life Is Worth Living."

The Board of Commerce recently offered a prize for the best article upon Detroit. The award was given to Mrs. P. H. Zacharias, whose article contains many valuable facts concerning the history, development, and advantages of the city. The following extracts pertaining to the attractiveness of Detroit as a place of residence, a health and pleasure resort, a convention city, and a business and manufacturing center are timely and interesting: "Detroit is famed for its beauty and hospitality among those who hold conventions. Scarcely a year has passed in which some national assembly, political, social, scientific, religious or artistic organization has not held itself in readiness to accept an invitation from the delightful and accessible Detroit. Indeed, every year sees some two or three hundred conclaves of various sort holding forth. "Detroit is a delightful place in which to live; indeed, ‘In Detroit - Life is Worth Living.’ Seekers after rest, those who desire to escape from the toil, the heat, the grime and soot of the cities of the East, South and West, naturally come to this beautiful, health-giving place, with its broad shaded flower gardens. From all quarters of the earth people come seeking health and comfort, to a city where they are sure of a hearty welcome, for the ‘latch-string’ is always out. "To fully realize what the opportunity for outdoor amusements means to the people of Detroit, one should spend a Saturday on the river, in the parks, or amid the living-tide that ebbs and flow aboard the electric cars, the trains, the steamers. Men, women and children, babies in arms, babies in carts, babies in all forms, styles and colors, are from the cool surface of Lake St. Clair and other bodies of water. We have much to be thankful for in Detroit; its freedom, its pure air, pure water, its happy homes, and its prosperous, honest citizens, sons of toil and capitalists. It is a city where men live and let live, where the poorest have within their reach the pleasures the rich come thousands of miles to enjoy.

"To specify in what Detroit stands preeminent and be faithful in the details, would be to write the history of nearly all the lines of principal manufactures. Detroit has excelled in everything that has been specialized. What has been the result? Prosperity. Prosperity of a lasting nature. "Too much praise cannot be given business men who have earned a reputation like that conveyed by the magic words, ‘Made in Detroit.’ Having already passed the 400,000 mark in population, Detroit has now taken its place among the great cities of the country, and the sign ‘Made in Detroit’ is accepted everywhere as a guarantee of excellence. This shows that the manufacturers and merchants are wide awake and progressive. It is no wonder under those circumstances that trade seeks the City of the Straits. It is not remarkable that from the East, West and South buyers are coming to Detroit for the goods they formerly went to other cities to secure. The result o this growth has been to establish at Detroit the largest manufactories for non-proprietary medicines, the largest stove factories, the largest automobile center, the largest varnish factories, the largest paint industries, largest malleable iron works, largest see house, a factory having half the capsule output of the United States, and some of the largest, fastest and most luxuriant excursion steamers in this country. "This is the Detroit of today, where the rights of all are respected, rich and poor alike. Life in Detroit is worth living."

City of Detroit

The site of a succession of Indian Villages, their recorded names including Yondotiga, Waweatunong, Tsychsardonia, and Teuchsa Grondie: the present city was founded in July, 1701, by Antoine de LaMothe, Sieur de Cadillac; named after the French word for strait (Detroit) from its location on the river connecting Lakes Erie and St. Clair; among the early French settlers, these later had (and still have) streets named for them; Beaubien, Rivard, Dequindre, Shene, Dubois and Joseph Campau; the settlement was first called Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit after Jerome Phelypeaux, County de Ponchartrain who, as minister of marine, decided Cadillac's proposal for the settlement; shortened to Detroit in 1751; a British possession, 1763-1783, when the U.S. gained jurisdiction (but did not occupy it until 1796); Frederick Bates became its first postmaster on Jan. 1, 1803 (the first post office in Michigan); incorporated as a town on Jan. 17, 1802, and as a city on Oct. 24, 1815; first platted in 1806 by Augustus B. Woodward, after whom its main thoroughfare, Woodward Avenue, was named for Territorial capital, 1805-1837, the State capital, 1837-1847.
Source: Michigan Place Names By Walter Roming 1986