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Detroit is the largest city in the U.S. state of Michigan, and the seat of Wayne County. It is the major city among the primary cultural, financial, and transportation centers in the Metro Detroit area, a region of 5.2 million people, and serves as a major port on the Detroit River connecting the Great Lakes system to the Saint Lawrence Seaway. It was founded on July 24, 1701, by the French explorer, adventurer, and nobleman Antoine de la Mothe, sieur de Cadillac.


In 2010, the city had 713,777 residents.[1] The name Detroit sometimes refers to Metro Detroit, a six-county area with a population of 4,296,250 for the Metropolitan Statistical Area,[2] making it the United States' twelfth-largest, and a population of 5,218,852 for the nine-county Combined Statistical Area as of the 2010 Census Bureau estimates.[3] The Detroit-Windsor area, a critical commercial link straddling the Canada-U.S. border, has a total population of about 5,700,000.[4] Immigration continues to play a role in the region's projected growth.[5] Oakland County in Metro Detroit is among the more affluent counties in the U.S. with more than one million people.[6][7] [8]

Poverty has been a continued problem in the city proper.[9] For the 2010 American Community Survey, median household income in the city was $25,787, and the median income for a family was $31,011. The per capita income for the city was $14,118. 32.3% of families had income at or below the federally defined poverty level. Out of the total population, 53.6% of those under the age of 18 and 19.8% of those 65 and older had income at or below the federally defined poverty line.

A widely cited report from the Detroit Regional Workforce Fund released in 2011 stated that the National Institute for Literacy (NIL) estimated 47 percent of city residents to be functionally illiterate (approx. Level 1 Literacy), meaning they had difficulty reading well enough to manage daily living and employment tasks that require reading skills beyond a basic level.[9] The source of the statement, however, appears to be a 1993 NIL report.[10]

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.[11] In 1940, non-Hispanic whites were 90.4% of the city's population.[12] However, since 1950 the city has seen a major shift in its population to the suburbs. In 1910, fewer than 6,000 blacks called the city home;[13] in 1930 more than 120,000 blacks lived in Detroit.[14] The thousands of African Americans who came to Detroit were part of the Great Migration of the 20th century.[15]

At its peak in 1950, the city was the fifth-largest in the United States, but has since seen a major shift in its population to the suburbs. The city population has dropped from 1,849,568 in 1950 to 713,777 in 2010.[16] In the first decade of the 21st century, about two-thirds of the total black population in metropolitan area resided within the city limits of Detroit.[17][18]

As of the 2010 Census, there were 713,777 people, 269,445 households, and 162,924 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,144.3 people per square mile (1,986.2/km²). There were 349,170 housing units at an average density of 2,516.5 units per square mile (971.6/km²). The census reported that the city had 82.7% Black (82.1% non- hispanic black), 10.6% White (7.8% non-hispanic white), 1.1% Asian, 0.4% Native American, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 3.0% other races, 2.2% two or more races. In addition, 6.8% of the population self-identified as Hispanic or Latino, of any race, mainly made up of Mexicans and Puerto Ricans.[19]

There were 269,445 households out of which 34.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 21.5% were married couples living together, 31.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.5% were non-families, 34.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.9% had someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.36.

There is a wide age distribution in the city, with 31.1% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 89.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.5 males.


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  5. Metro Area Factsheet: Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint, Michigan CMSA.Federation for Immigration Reform. Retrieved on April 4, 2009.
  6. "2004–05 Community profile Oakland County" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 28, 2008. Retrieved May 5, 2009. Oakland County also ranks as the fourth wealthiest county in the USA among counties with populations of more than one million people.
  7. "Global Oakland Fast Facts". Retrieved November 27, 2011. Oakland ranked 11th in per capita income among counties with populations over one million (2009)
  8. Hopkins, Carol (March 28, 2010).Oakland still ranks among the nation's wealthiest counties. Daily Tribune. Retrieved November 27, 2011.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Time,8599,1925681,00.html. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. Kain, E.D. (May 6, 2011).Detroit Literacy Numbers Questionable.Forbes. Retrieved November 16, 2011.
  11. Baulch, Vivian M. (September 4, 1999). Michigan's greatest treasure – Its people. Michigan History, The Detroit News. Retrieved on October 22, 2007.
  12. "Race and Hispanic Origin for Selected Cities and Other Places: Earliest Census to 1990". U.S. Census Bureau.
  13. Vivian M. Baulch, "How Detroit got its first black hospital," The Detroit News, November 28, 1995.
  14. "Important Cities in Black History".
  15. "Detroit and the Great Migration, 1916–1929 by Elizabeth Anne Martin". Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.
  16. Seelye, Katherine Q. (March 22, 2011). "Detroit Population Down 25 Percent, Census Finds". The New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2011.
  17. Wisely, John; Spangler, Todd (March 24, 2011). "Motor City population declines 25%". USA Today. Retrieved June 20, 2011.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. Towbridge, Gordon. "Racial divide widest in U.S." The Detroit News. January 14, 2002. Retrieved on March 30, 2009.
  19. Detroit