Detroit Timeline 1600 – 1760

Detroit is the largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Michigan, the largest U.S. city on the United States–Canada border, and the seat of Wayne County. The municipality of Detroit had a 2019 estimated population of 670,031, making it the 24th-most populous city in the United States. The metropolitan area, known as Metro Detroit, is home to 4.3 million people, making it the second-largest in the Midwest after the Chicago metropolitan area, and 14th largest in the United States. Regarded as a major cultural center, Detroit is known for its contributions to music and as a repository for art, architecture and design.

Detroit is a major port on the Detroit River, one of the four major straits that connect the Great Lakes system to the Saint Lawrence Seaway. The Detroit Metropolitan Airport is among the most important hubs in the United States. The City of Detroit anchors the second-largest regional economy in the Midwest, behind Chicago and ahead of Minneapolis–Saint Paul, and the 13th-largest in the United States. Detroit and its neighboring Canadian city Windsor are connected through a highway tunnel, railway tunnel, and the Ambassador Bridge, which is the second busiest international crossing in North America, after San Diego–Tijuana. Detroit is best known as the center of the U.S. automobile industry, and the “Big Three” auto manufacturers General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler are all headquartered in Metro Detroit.

1600: Around 100,000 people live in five tribes in Michigan: Potawatomi, Ottawa, Ojibwa/Chippewa, Miami, and Huron. The Potawatomi, Ottawa and Ojibwa speak similar Algonquin languages and are known as the “People of the Three Fires”.

1668: French missionaries first settle in Sault Saint Marie.

1669: French explorer Adrien Joliet and an Iroquois guide travel from the St. Mary’s River down Lake Huron and camp at present day Detroit.

1671: French missionaries first settle at Saint Ignace.

1679: August 10. French explorer Robert La Salle sails his ship, the Griffon, past Detroit on his way north to find a route to China.

1680: La Salle explores the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, crossing from present day Muskegon to present day Detroit, becoming the first European to travel the interior of Michigan.

1680: The French build forts near present day St. Joseph and present day Port Huron.

1701: July 24. Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac establishes a settlement at Detroit.  He leads 100 French soldiers and 100 Algonquins to “le détroit” (the strait).  They build Fort Pontchartrain du détroit from logs.  The goal is to protect the French fur trade in the Great Lakes from the English and Iroquois.

1701: Fall and Early Winter. Cadillac asks Native Americans to settle in the area. He offers protection and trading opportunities. The Huron, Miami, Ottawa and Chippewa build villages in the surrounding area.

1704: February 2. The first European child is born at Detroit. Marie Therese Cadillac is the daughter of Antoine and his wife.

1704: Cadillac reports that 2,000 Native Americans live in villages surrounding Detroit.

1733: A smallpox outbreak in Detroit kills many residents.

1749: Detroit’s population is about 900.  The Governor of New France offers animals and farm equipment to Frenchmen who settle in the area.  Only 46 accept his offer.

1751: Detroit’s population is 483, including 33 enslaved Native and African Americans.

1752: Smallpox and famine threaten the settlement at Detroit.

1754: The French and Indian War begins, which is part of the Seven Years’ War between England and France. Detroit is a major stronghold for the war. The French send over 400 militia and supplies to the fort.

1760: British Major Robert Rogers and his troops take command of Detroit.  As part of the treaty at the end of the war, Britain obtains Detroit from the French.

1849 – September 25. The first annual Michigan State Fair is held in Detroit. Want more history of Detroit after 1760? You can trust the Detroit Historical Society

Detroit Historical Society’s (Fantastic resource!!)

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