1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Detroit
DETROIT (see 8.113). Commencing with the recovery from the industrial depression of 1907-8, the city of Detroit entered upon a period of growth almost without precedent among large cities. The area of the city in 1907 was 35.65 sq. m., but by the end of 1918 had increased to 83.58 sq. m. With reference to a portion of this area a peculiar condition existed. The villages of Hamtramck and Highland Park were originally outside territory into which the population and business of Detroit overflowed. By annexations in 1916 and 1917 their outer boundaries were brought two miles within the city limits, but they still retained their separate municipal administrations. Together they covered 4.83 square miles. The pop. of the city as estimated from the Water Board enumeration of families was in 1907 about 390,000. In 1910 the U.S. census record was 465,766. The census of 1920 gave a total of 1,088,853 within the city limits, distributed as follows: under Detroit municipal administration 993,739; village of Hamtramck 48,615; City of Highland Park 46,499. A canvass made late in 1920 by the various city agencies for Americanization indicated that about 70% of the population was either of foreign birth or foreign parentage. Polanders, Germans and Russians represented the largest numbers, though there were large accessions from south-eastern Europe. In a single automobile plant there were 34 nationalities represented. A canvass of the public schools taken in Dec. 1920 showed 55% of the pupils of American-born parentage, 50.5% being white and 4.5% coloured. In 45% of children of foreign-born parents Polish ranked first and Russian next. In the three years ending with 1920 a large amount of work was done by the Board of Commerce, the Board of Education, and leading manufacturers in teaching the English language and the elements of citizenship through public night schools and factory schools.
Manufacturing.—The extraordinary growth of the city was mainly a consequence of the expansion of its manufacturing industries. In 1904 the city was 12th in rank among the industrial centres of the country, with $91,038,000 in manufacturing capital, 60,150 industrial employees, and a product valued at $128,247,000. Five years later it was 6th in place, with a capital of $210,000,000, 103,287 employees and product of $252,992,000. In 1914 it was 4th, being surpassed only by New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, with a capital of $405,000,000, 141,188 employees and product valued at $569,000,000. In 1919 the number of employees had increased to 310,000 and the value of the product was estimated at $1,450,000,000. In the first half of 1920 industrial activity was at its height, and although there was a decline in the latter part of the year, the total value was estimated at a slight increase over the previous year. By far the most important of the manufacturing industries was the making of automobile parts and accessories and assembling of motor cars. The business began in Detroit in 1899, but was not classed by the Census Bureau as a separate industry till 1904, when it had $3,447,000 capital, employed 2,191 workers and had a product valued at $6,240,000. In 1909 the capital employed in the industry had increased to $28,928,000, the number of persons employed in office and factory 17,437, the number of cars produced 45,560 and the value of the product $59,536,000. The next year there was a great expansion of the industry, both through the organization of new companies and additions to old plants. With the exception of a slight set-back in 1914, the growth was continuous till the latter part of 1920. At its peak of production in that year there were 25 companies assembling motor cars and 140 whose sole or principal business was the making of automobile parts and accessories. Together they employed about 155,000 persons and put out 1,250,000 cars valued at over $1,000,000,000. The Ford Motor Co. alone had a maximum of 53,000 men on its pay rolls; Dodge Bros. 23,000; and the Packard Co. 17,000. The distribution of these products was world-wide, the portion set apart for export in 1920 amounting to $152,000,000. During the decade ending in 1920 there were
numerous other changes in Detroit's manufacturing industries. Freight-car building, which was the largest of all up to 1908, has been almost entirely discontinued. The carriage and furniture factories were for the most part changed to the making of automobile accessories, and clothing manufacture diminished. Meantime some of the metal industries increased enormously. The city in 1920 was either first or near the front in the following lines: aluminium castings, brass products, computing machines, druggists' preparations, soda ash and kindred alkalis, stoves and varnishes.
Transportation.—For the accommodation of the increasing traffic caused by this industrial expansion there were great enlargements by the transportation lines. The Michigan Central tunnelled Detroit river and built an immense new passenger station and office building. That road and the Grand Trunk and the Pere Marquette made great additions to their freight yards, stations and sidings, and the outer belt line was extended. The Pennsylvania lines were extended from Toledo to Detroit, with a belt line of their own round a portion of the city, and ample freight and passenger facilities. The Detroit, Toledo and Ironton, which was suffering for lack of funds and equipment, was purchased by the Henry Ford interests, with great improvement in its facilities for service as a coal road. In lake freight transportation 1916 was the maximum year. The number of passages by vessels through the Detroit river that year was 37,852, net registered tonnage 76,677,264, actual freight tonnage 100,907,279, estimated value of freight $1,069,617,157. There was also in 1919 and 1920 an astonishing development in motor-truck service. There were in 1920 about 20 established lines reaching out from the city in all directions, and covering distances as great as 50 m. or more. At the April election in 1920 by a vote of 89,285 to 51,093 the people approved of a plan for municipal construction and operation of street railway lines. It was intended for the present to supplement, but ultimately to absorb, the privately owned system. A short section was opened Feb. 1 1921.
Miscellaneous.—The manufacturing and population growth was accompanied by similar expansion in other lines. For example: assessed valuation, 1910, $377,335,980; 1920, $1,699,149,580; city tax levy, 1910, $6,837,686; 1920, $35,086,359; bank capital and surplus, 1910, $19,130,000; 1920, $58,343,500; bank deposits, 1910, $140,183,995; 1920, $503,944,735; bank clearings, 1910, $910,835005; 1920, $6,109,313,803; building permits, 1910, 5,498, to cost $17,225,945; 1920, 19,412, to cost $77,737,365; post-office receipts, 1910, $2,133,647; 1920, $6,031,442; internal revenue receipts, 1910, $6,725,941; 1920, $304,184,392; imports, 1910, fiscal year, $13,763,200; 1920, $91,160,552; exports, 1910, $82,143,633; 1920, $339,844,490. Detroit's allotment of the four Liberty loans and the Victory loan was $233,977,172. The subscriptions actually made amounted to $299,794,150, from 785,176 subscribers. During 1917 and 1918 contracts for munitions and army supplies to the amount of about $900,000,000 were taken in Detroit. Of these nearly $300,000,000 worth were cancelled after the Armistice.
Administration.—Under a charter adopted by popular vote June 25 1918, the methods of municipal government were materially changed. In place of a Board of Education of one member from each ward, there was a Board of seven members, elected two or three at a time on a general ticket and holding office for six years. The old Board of Estimates, consisting of two members from each ward and five at large, was abolished, leaving appropriations and bond issues to be determined by the mayor and common council. The mayor's final judgment was conclusive upon all appropriation items, unless reversed by a vote of seven out of the nine aldermen. The old common council of two aldermen from each ward was displaced by a council of nine members all elected at one time on a general ticket. The mayor, city clerk and city treasurer were elected, but all other administrative officers and commissions were appointed by the mayor, without reference to the council, and were subject to dismissal by him without trial. Nominations, two for each office to be filled, were made at non-partisan primaries. Blanks for voting were also non-partisan, and the time of election was separated from that of the state and national contests. By special legislative enactment the police and recorders' courts were combined in one with seven judges, holding office for four years and having jurisdiction of all criminal and ordinance cases. The judges were all chosen at one time on a non-partisan ticket.