- 1701: Frenchman Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac and his party of soldiers and fur traders
are the first recorded European settlers. Cadillac oversees the construction of Fort
Ponchartrain, establishes a settlement within its walls, and invites the region’s
native people to live near, but not in, the compound.
- Adelaide DeQuindre's marriage to Detroit landowner Joseph Campau combines two local
French families, but they live to see Detroit become dominated by non-French populations.
- By 1836, the date of this painting, Detroit had several thousand residents—largely
a mixture of French, German, and Irish. Most of its streets were wooden plank, but
downtown the streets were cobblestone. Mail service connected the young city to the
east coast, and daily stagecoaches ran between Detroit and Chicago. By 1840, Detroit's
population had grown to more than 9,000, and Michigan Territory had become the nation's
- From 1841 to 1891, Cadillac Square was home to the Detroit farmers market. By the
time this photo was taken, ca. 1880, significant numbers of Italian and Polish immigrants
were moving to the rapidly growing city.
- In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, professional and amateur photographers
alike documented life in metro Detroit’s thriving Polish communities on the city’s
eastside, westside, and in Hamtramck. Portraits like this one, ca. 1905, from the
F.G. Poli studio, were intended both for immediate family in metro Detroit and for
exchange with relatives living in Poland.
- Students at Saints Peter and Paul Academy, a grade school in an Irish Catholic Parish
on Parsons St., ca. 1905
- Italian produce vendor at Eastern Market, ca. 1900.
- Among the flood of immigrants to come to Detroit in the early 20th century in pursuit
of a better life were Armenians, such as these shoemakers at work in Leon G. Nahnikian’s
shoe repair and tailor shop, on Henry Street, ca. 1917.
- Maltese immigrants at an Americanization metting in a private home on Michigan Ave.,
- Spurred by the availability of jobs due to the departure of workers for service in
World War I, African Americans arrive in Detroit at the rate of 1,000 per month throughout
the summer, part of “The Great Migration” of African Americans from the rural South
to northern industrial cities.
- On September 14, 1930, noted Detroit photographer Harvey C. Jackson took this photograph
of the medical staff, trustee board, and corps of nurses of Dunbar Memorial Hospital.
Opened in 1917 and named for the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, Dunbar Memorial was the
first hospital for African Americans in Detroit. The original hospital building, at
580 Frederick Street, is now a museum and headquarters for the Detroit Medical Society.
- Syrian fruit vendors in Detroit, ca. 1920s.
- A chinese worker in the Hudson Motor Car plant, working on Curtis dive bombers, 1944
- The work of Chilean artist Dasic Fernandez, this mural on the side of Detroit’s Hacienda
Mexican Foods building (6022 W. Vernor Highway) is known as Mano de Obra Campesina.
Fernandez wanted to create an image to suggest the labor that goes into the production
of people’s daily food, especially in Mexicantown.
- An Arab-American business owner, Vernor-Dix-Wyoming area, ca. 1982
- Latino students at Webster Elementary in Southwest Detroit, 1981.