Michigan History

Michigan History

Michigan is a state in the United States. It is located in the Midwest and borders Ohio and Indiana to the south, Illinois to the southwest, Wisconsin to the west, and Canada to the north and east.

The name comes from Lake Michigan, which in French is derived from the anishinaabe word misshikama, which means “big lake”. The largest city in Michigan is Detroit, and the state capital is Lansing. With ten million residents, Michigan is the eighth most populous state in the United States.

Detroit is today the city best known for being an important hub for the automotive industry and the headquarters of “The Big Three”, the three automakers Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. The city is also known for its music industry around the Motown studios, which specialized in soul music. The city therefore also has the two nicknames “Motor City” and “Motown”.

Michigan is located on two peninsulas between four of the major lakes: Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. In the north there are large untouched forest areas and in the south vast and very fertile agricultural areas. The peninsulas are separated by the Strait of Mackinac, and connected by the Mackinac Bridge. See Directoryaah for museums in Michigan.

Since the 1970s, it has gone downhill with Michigan’s automotive industry due to foreign competition and outsourcing of jobs abroad. This has led to unemployment and has made Michigan part of the so-called rust belt.


1701 – The first Europeans to settle in Michigan were French fur traders who founded Detroit. Read more here.

1805 – On the morning of June 11, most of Detroit was destroyed in a fire started by John Harvey, who did not get the ashes off his pipe properly after knocking the ashes out, and one of the first buildings to be ignited, was a barn, and the flames spread with lightning speed to other wooden buildings. The population at this time was about 600.

1819 – Ojibwe, Ottawa, Potawatomi Indians cede more than six million acres of land in the Lower Peninsula to America; The Indians then made mass emigration to the south. Read more here.

1835-36 – The Michigan – Ohio border war breaks out. Ohio provided land around Toledo, and Michigan got the entire Upper Peninsula. Read more here and a timeline here.

1836 – Michigan gets its first government, but does not become a state in the Union until the following year due to a border dispute with Ohio.

1837 – Michigan became America’s 26th state.

1846 – Michigan is the first state in the United States to abolish the death penalty.

1850 – On May 1, the city of Grand Rapids is founded. The city then had 2686 residents.

1861-65 – Civil war breaks out and over 90,000 Michigan men serve.

1871 – Fires in Port Huron, Holland and Manistee kill 200 people and burn more than 1.2 million. barrels of land.

1881 – The Great Thumb Fire in The Thumb area kills 282, inflicts $ 2,347,000 in damage, and was also the first natural disaster the American Red Cross took part in. Read more here.

1896 – Charles King of Detroit, was the first person to design, build, and test drive a gasoline-powered automobile.

1899 – Ransom E. Olds establishes the first automobile factory in Detroit.

20th Century – In the early 20th century, the Michigan economy experienced a boom. Henry Ford made Detroit the center of the United States automotive industry. In 1903, he co-founded eleven other Ford Motor Companies, and remained director of the company until 1919, when his son Edsel B. Ford took over. However, it was still Ford senior who made all the decisions. In 1908, the first Ford Model T was built; General Motors was established and is today the second largest car manufacturer in the world.

1920s – Abe Bernstein and his ” Purple Gang ” operated with liquor smuggling from Detroit during the Prohibition era, along with other gangsters in the mafia. They used the Detroit River to smuggle Canadian alcohol.

1928 – The Ford River Rouge Plant is completed and is the largest factory in the world, with over 100,000 employees.

1929 – The Ambassador Bridge opens between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario (the longest bridge in the world when it was built).

1930 – The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel opens, and for 84 years has served as the busiest route between the United States and Canada after the Ambassador Bridge.

1940s – Blues musician John Lee Hooker lived in the downtown area of Delray in southwestern Detroit.

1941 – Automobile factories are transformed into production sites for war materials, and Michigan then became known as the ” Arsenal of Democracy “.

1950s – Detroit became a center of jazz with well-known jazz musicians playing in the Black Bottom neighborhood.

1955 – Bill Haley from Highland Park had one of the first rock hits with Rock Around the Clock.

1957 – On November 1, Mackinac Bridge, known as ” Big Mac ” or ” Mighty Mac “, opens. The bridge is today the world’s fifth largest.

1959 – Motown Records was founded by Berry Gordy on January 12 in Detroit. The record company became internationally known in the 1960s and early 1970s with artists such as Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, The Supremes, Jackson 5, Martha & the Vandellas and Marvin Gaye.

1967 – One of the first bands to found punk rock was The Stooges, which featured Iggy Pop. The band was active in 1967-1974, and fell apart again due to drug abuse, but Iggy had great success with his solo career, until the band was restored in 2003 during the recordings for Iggy Pop’s album ‘Skull Ring’, and performed at Roskilde Festival in Denmark in 2004.

On July 23, 1967, in the morning hours of Saturday, a raid began on an illegal bar, on the corner of 12th and Clairmounts (today Rosa Parks Boulevard ), in the Near West Side. It ended after 5 days of unrest, in which 43 were killed, 1189 wounded, over 7000 arrested, and most of the inner city destroyed. Read more here and see photos here.

1970 – Rock group Alice Cooper moves to Detroit, where they sign with Warner Bros. the following year., who in 1971 produced their third album Love it to Death, which became one of the great hard rock albums of the time. Alice Cooper got her first place on the charts in the US with a song called I’m Eighteen and then went strong with the success.

1974 – On August 8, all possibilities for Richard Nixon to avoid a federal lawsuit due to the Watergate scandal seemed exhausted, and he therefore chose – as the only American president so far – to resign prematurely. On August 9, Gerald Ford (who was a good friend of Nixon) was installed as the 38th President of the United States. Ford was initially met with sympathy from the American people, but because he pardoned Nixon, the sympathy was turned into distrust. Ford’s wife Betty, who was very open about her privacy and personal issues such as illness and alcoholism, opened the Betty Ford Clinic in 1982 inRancho Mirage, California, where here you can see a list of some of the celebrities who have visited the site since 1982, and pictures here. See aerial photographs of the center here.

1975 – The leader of the United States’ largest brother, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Jimmy Hoffa, is turned into a myth when he suddenly disappears under mysterious circumstances on July 30 in Bloomfield Township, Oakland County, at Machus Red Fox Restaurant (see map here ), while waiting for some men (gangsters Anthony “Tony Jack” Giacalone and Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano) he was to meet at 14. They were supposed to discuss Hoffa’s return to the leadership position of Teamsters, but the Mafia and Nixon did not want to get rid of Frank Fitzsimmons, who was more compliant than Hoffa, and would not change anything. That was possibly the reason Hoffa had to get out of the way.

1974 – Coleman Young is elected Detroit’s first African-American mayor, becoming the first African-American to be elected mayor of one of the major cities in the United States. He also became the longest-serving mayor of Detroit (until 1993).

1980 – By this time, three decades of high crime, drug trafficking, and insufficient political action had left Detroit in decline. In the 1980s, abandoned buildings were demolished to make way for drug shelters, and large parts of the city were turned into desolate areas (so-called ” Urban Prairie “).

2005 – Rosa Parks, the American seamstress who refused to give up her seat to a white man on the bus in 1955, died in Detroit on October 25, at the age of 92. She was buried and laid to rest by her parents in Woodlawn Cemetery.

2009 – General Motors announces that it has to cut 21,000 jobs; Chrysler filed for bankruptcy on April 30.

On December 25, 2009, a failed bombing took place on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, in which the perpetrator tried to detonate a bomb sewn into his underpants. There were 290 passengers on board. Had the assassination attempt been successful, it would have surpassed American Airlines Flight 191 as the worst on American soil. The perpetrator, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian, was overpowered and the plane landed safely at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. Three days later, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula pleaded guilty to the assassination attempt.

2010 – On January 6, Abdulmutallab was charged with 6 criminal acts including bombing and attempted murder.

In July 2010, a pipeline leak burst in the Kalamazoo River, causing 800,000 gallons (3.02832943 m 3 ), the largest oil leak in the Midwest. Read more here and here.

2012 – On 16 February, Abdulmutallab was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

2013 – Growing financial problems forced Detroit to file for bankruptcy on July 18, 2013, with a total debt of up to $ 20 billion. dollars (approx. DKK 115 billion). This was the 34th municipal bankruptcy in the United States since 2010 and the largest ever in U.S. history.

Michigan History