Detroit, Michigan

Detroit, Michigan


According to Ehuacom, Detroit is the largest city in the US state of Michigan and has a population of 632,000. The metropolitan area is the center of the American auto industry and has a population of 4,365 thousand (2021).


According to mcat-test-centers, the metropolitan area is located in the southeastern part of the state of Michigan, on the Canadian border. It is the only major American city that faces south into Canada. Detroit is located on the Detroit River and on Lake St. Clair, transitional waters between the gigantic Lake Huron to the north and Lake Erie to the south. On the Canadian side of the border is Windsor, also a suburb of Detroit to a limited extent.

Detroit has a fairly large suburban area, consisting of cities of 50,000 to 150,000 inhabitants, of which Warren is the largest. Other major suburbs include Sterling Heights and Livonia. The suburbs are all made up of squares, and are orderly bounded. The agglomeration measures 60 kilometers from north to south and 50 kilometers from east to west. These suburbs, especially around Pontiac, are home to major car factories, including Chrysler, General Motors and Ford. There are also large test areas of these car manufacturers in the region.

Detroit’s current population is less than half of what it was in the 1950s. Due to the collapse of heavy industry and the car industry, the population has decreased continuously since the 1950s from 1.8 million to less than 700,000 today. This is partly because whites have fled the city and moved to the suburbs, or to other parts of the United States, such as Texas and Florida.. Detroit has fallen into serious disrepair as a result. Since half of the houses have become uninhabitable, a lot was empty, and a lot has been demolished in recent decades. As a result, in some neighborhoods there are only a handful of houses, next to empty lots, a phenomenon called “Urban Prairie”. This also occurs in other cities in the region, such as Cleveland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Toledo. As a result, major cultural divides exist in the metropolitan area, the most important of which is 8 Mile Road, which forms the boundary between Detroit and the northern suburbs.

Population growth

Detroit falls under Wayne County, and is also presented separately below. Only the three main counties that make up the continuously built-up area are shown below. The official agglomeration still includes 3 counties, which are, however, mainly rural in character, or not directly connected to the urban area. These 3 counties together had a further 444,000 inhabitants in 2021.

Year Detroit Wayne Oakland macomb total
1920 994,000 1,178,000 90,000 38,000 1,306,000
1930 1,569,000 1,889,000 211,000 77,000 2.177,000
1940 1,623,000 2,016,000 254,000 108,000 2,378,000
1950 1,850,000 2,436,000 396,000 185,000 3,017,000
1960 1,670,000 2,666,000 690,000 406,000 3,763,000
1970 1,514,000 2,667,000 908,000 625,000 4,200,000
1980 1,203,000 2,338,000 1,012,000 695,000 4,045,000
1990 1,028,000 2,112,000 1,084,000 717,000 3,913,000
2000 951,000 2,061,000 1,194,000 788,000 4,043,000
2010 714,000 1,821,000 1,202,000 841,000 3,864,000
2020 639.000 1,790,000 1,272,000 880,000 3,942,000
2021 632,000 1,774,000 1,270,000 877,000 3,921,000

The population development of Detroit and the metropolitan area is turbulent. Before the auto industry developed strongly, Detroit was already a big city, with hardly any suburbs. In the 1920s, the population increased sharply, a trend that continued until the 1950s. Beginning in the 1950s, the city’s population began to decline, and the 1970s marked the turning point for Wayne County. At the same time, Oakland and Macomb County began to grow. By 2000, Detroit was back at pre-1910 levels. However, from the 1980s onwards, suburban growth also leveled off sharply, with the metropolitan area of Detroit stagnating or even declining since the 1970s.

Although Detroit has a reputation for being vacant, this is especially true in certain neighborhoods close to downtown. The city still has nearly 700,000 inhabitants, with the decline leveling off from the late 1980s, but accelerating again after 2000, with a loss of nearly 25,000 inhabitants per year between 2000 and 2010. Growth came to a halt again in 2020-2021.

Road network

Detroit’s highway network.

Detroit’s road network is laid out in a dense grid pattern, with a rather extensive secondary road network, a result of the much larger population in the 1950s. Many six- or eight-lane highways crisscross the area, sometimes through virtually empty areas. In addition, there is a larger grid pattern of roads a mile away in the suburban area that extends far beyond the city. These are called “Mile Roads”, such as 7 Mile and 8 Mile Road. The northernmost Mile Road of the conurbation is 26 Mile Road.

In addition, there is a reasonable highway network, which converges in the city of Detroit. In the suburban area, the highway network is not very extensive, especially in the northern suburban area. The underlying road network is therefore quite busy here. In addition, the decline in population and the accompanying drop in tax revenues has left the road network in Detroit itself seriously neglected. Major highways also have names, such as the Lodge, Chrysler, Jeffries, Southfield, Detroit Industrial, and Davison Freeways. In the region, these highways are more often referred to by name than number.

List of freeways

name length first opening last opening max AADT 2012
Fisher Freeway 40 km 1963 1970 105,000
Chrysler Freway 68 km 1963 1968 180,000
Edsel Ford Freeway 85 km 1942 1959 161,000
Jeffries Freeway 53 km 1970 1977 173,000
Interstate 275 56 km 1975 1977 173,000
Chrysler Freeway 2 km 1964 1968 76,000
Reuther Freeway 47 km 1963 1989 187,000
Haggerty Connector 15 km 197x 1999 65,000
Davison Freeway 9 km 1942 1942 69,000
Lodge Freeway 37 km 1953 196x 135,000
State Route 14 36 km 1964 1979 89,000
Southfield Freeway 27 km 1961 1963 155,000
Van Dyke Freeway 16 km 1965 1965 69,000
State Route 59 17 km 1966 1972 87,000


Woodward Avenue in Detroit in 1942, then part of US 10.

Detroit was one of the first cities to begin building a highway network, ahead of other industrial cities in the region such as Chicago or Pittsburgh. Detroit’s first freeway was the Davison Freeway, which opened on November 24, 1942, specifically in the urban enclave of Highland Park north of downtown Detroit. This is also considered to be the world’s first sunken highway. Construction began in 1941 on a highway between Detroit and Ypsilanti, connecting important centers of the war industry. In 1945 this route was completed over a few tens of kilometers. This would later become Interstate 94. For the creation of the Interstate Highway system in 1956 several more highways were built. In 1957, the Detroit – Toledo Expressway (later I-75) was completed between the Ohio border and the southern suburbs. This connected to the famous Telegraph Road (US 24). Also in 1957, the first link of US 23, which would later serve as a through bypass, opened from Toledo to Flint. Most highways were built under the Interstate Highway program, and for the most part in the 1960s. During the 1960s, the Chrysler Freeway and Fisher Freeway, both part of I-75, were built, as well as the Edsel Ford Freeway (I-94)., the Lodge Freeway and parts of Interstate 696, which formed an east-west link through the northern suburbs. The last major highway construction was in the mid-1970s, when I-96 and I-275 were built. The Jeffries Freeway, part of I-96, opened in stages between 1970 and 1977. This was the last new freeway within the Detroit city limits. At the same time, I-275, Detroit’s western bypass, was also being constructed.

Like many American cities, Detroit also has a number of highways that were never built. One of these was the construction of I-96 along Grand River Avenue, a more direct route to the northwest. This plan was already canceled in 1963, after which the I-96 was constructed over an alternative route through Livonia. It was also planned to extend I-275 north from Farmington Hills to I-75 west of Pontiac, creating a bypass. This plan was blocked by influential residents in the area. Partly because US 23 was already available as a further bypass, I-275 was not an urgent priority and was never constructed again. A third plan that did not go through was the construction of State Route 53 as a north-south axis through eastern Detroit and the suburbs of Warren and Sterling Heights. A small section of this highway was built through the far north of the conurbation, but the greater part was never built.

From 1960 the population of Detroit decreased dramatically, the city lost more than 1 million inhabitants in the following decades. Initially, people moved to the suburbs around Detroit, which increased traffic to and from downtown due to long-distance commuters. Later, downtown also fell into disrepair, with many jobs moving to the suburbs, along with the relocation of major auto plants to other states or countries, resulting in fewer and fewer jobs in traditional industrial Detroit. As a result, traffic volumes on the highways in the city itself also decreased, the suburbs are busier than Detroit itself. The state of maintenance is a concern because of the sharp decline in population and the associated decline in tax revenues. Many highways in Detroit are in bad shape,


There is quite a lot of congestion in the region, this has several causes. An important cause is the lack of financial resources. The highway network is well equipped for the traffic generation of Detroit itself, but the strong commuter flows from the suburbs give a bad balance. However, the center is not a strong puller, only 80,000 jobs are located in the center. The highways around the center are therefore not very busy, unlike many other American cities. A second cause is also the lack of finances for maintenance. Some highways have poor road surfaces and outdated exits. The Davison Freeway had the same road surface until 1996 as it was in 1942. This also applies to many other highways, although much has been improved in recent years.

Detroit, Michigan