Detroit, the Motor City, is the seventh largest city in the United States and the world's foremost car manufacturing centre. Its economic growth was aided by its strategic location on the Detroit River, a waterway connecting the upper and lower Great Lakes, and by its transport links to the interior.
On the city riverfront is the Civic Center, with the City-County Building, Cobo Hall and Arena (one of the country's largest convention halls). Here also is the Henry and Edsel Ford Auditorium and Museum. The Ford Museum takes a look at not only the man behind the automobile assembly line, but also at how his ingenuity has influenced and transformed American life. This excellent collection includes lots of antique and classic automobiles including the car in which JFK was shot, car advertising posters and early car videos, railway locomotives, farm equipment and kitchen appliances. Adjacent to the museum is Greenfield Village, which takes you back 150 years to show the genius of some remarkable Americans. Actual structures, such as Orville and Wilbur Wright's home and bicycle shop and Thomas Edison's Menlo Park laboratory, have been moved to the village, and guides in period costumes are on hand throughout the park to entertain and enlighten you. The village also has an operating steam railway and paddleboat on the small lake.
Also north of downtown are the General Motors and Fisher buildings, designed by German-born architect Albert Kahn. Another place of interest is Pewabic Pottery (1907), east of downtown, built for ceramicist Mary Chase Perry Stratton, whose glazed tiles were an important architectural element in buildings of the 1920s. West of the downtown area is Fort Wayne Military Museum, the best-preserved pre-American Civil War fort in the Midwest. It houses the Great Lakes Indian Museum, tracing Native American history in Michigan, and the Tuskegee Airmen Museum, commemorating the country's first black military aviation unit.
A fort and trading post was established on the Detroit River in 1701 by the French. The fort was captured by the British in 1760 during the French and Indian War and survived a five-month siege organised by Indian leader leader Pontiac. It commenced its first important period of growth with the surrender of Michigan lands by Native Americans and the advent of steam navigation on the Great Lakes in 1818. Growth was further spurred by the opening in 1825 of the Erie Canal and railway construction in the 1840s. The first motor car factories were founded in 1899 and 1903 by Ransom Eli Olds and Henry Ford. The emergence of mass production and a vast middle-class market for cars took place in the 1910s and 1920s and the population of the city continued the rapid growth begun in the 1840s.
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