Detroit is situated on the Detroit River and was founded in 1701 by the French soldier, Antoine Cadillac. He called it Fort-Pontcghartrain-du-Detroit but when the English gained control of the town it was shortened to Detroit. It came under the control of the Americans in 1796.
In 1805 a fire destroyed much of the town. The British captured Detroit in 1812 but the following year the Americans regained control and in 1815 it was incorporated as a city. Detroit became the capital of Michigan in 1837 (moved to Lansing in 1847).
Hazen Pingree, a successful shoe manufacturer, was elected mayor of Detroit in 1890. For the next six years he introduced several reforms including providing gardens for the unemployed (called Pingree's Potato Patches). Frank Murphy (1930-33), who later became a member of the Supreme Court (1940-49) was another distinguished reforming mayor of Detroit.
With the support of Henry Ford, Detroit became the main automobile manufacturing city in the world. Other important products produced in Detroit include aircraft parts, industrial robots, television equipment, office machinery and pharmaceuticals. In 1992 the population of Detroit reached 1,044,000. It is estimated that over 75 per cent of the population are African American.