What is the cultural make up of Detroit


The telecommunications is a big industry. You can’t expect to just jump into it with out doing some research as to how you will make money. In this paper you will find information about the City of Detroit, Michigan. With the rich history in the area, that is still celebrated over 300 years later, you will be able to identifiy what kind of telecommuication business you can build accordign to this market. In a nutshell this market can be decribed as mostly African-American, music lovers, and huge supporters of anything local. You will find out why Detroit is the Place Worth living.

Detroit the Place Worth Living

“In Detroit life is worth living” was the motto that Detroiters were proud of in the 1900’s. Detroit has come a long way since it was a French settlement just trying to protect its fur from the English. First established as a settlement on July 26, 1701, by Antione de La Mothe Cadillac, Detroit became popular quick because of its ease of access to the river. The city was built from the abundance of fur-bearing animals that roamed the area. One hundred years later Detroit was officially chartered as a 20-acre city with about 500 residents. By the 1860’s the population was over 45,000. By this time, the printing press was brought over, three newspapers were established and the first telegraph message was transmitted between Detroit and Buffalo(DHS, timeline). The fur industry was long gone before Henry Ford came along paying workers $5 a day. As the city grew, so did the streets.


The layout of Detroit’s streets and neighborhood were drawn out like spokes on a wheel. The center was downtown with the baseline being Jefferson avenue that lined the city along the Detroit River. Because the city is off the water the RF signals are aways from the water’s edge. You get bad reception on radios and roaming on your cellphone in certain areas in Downtown Detroit. The way the city is set up everything has to go Northwest of the center of the city. Although Canada is Detroit’s neighbor, the signals follow different rules and regulations that international ones. Cell phone towers are located more towards the city. Yet, all the TV and Radio stations are located int he downtown is. Learning the topology of the Detroit area is important because the signals can’t go in all four directions.

During the 1900’s the population of Detroit had reached one million making it one of the largest cities at the time. The city was filled with a mixture of Native Americans, Polish, Germans, French and African Americans. Even after two cholera breakouts that killed hundreds, the population stayed on a steady increase, except for in recent years. For the first time since 1860, Detroit is not one of the top 20 largest cities. (Kaffer, 2016)

The city has been losing an average of about 24,000 residents a year since 1970. This is significant. According to the U.S census, there were 1.8 million people living in Detroit, Michigan. Today there are only a little over 600,000 people left in the city. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the city isn’t reviving itself. Like the city’s motto embedded on the Detroit flag, “It came from the ashes”, is a symbol of prosperity for the area’s residents. From a first-hand perspective, the population decline could be a result of high crime rates and the city being coined the “Murder Capital” for a few years. The decline of the auto industry that originally helped boost the population, with Henry Ford’s Model T, cause a lot of jobs lost about ten years ago. Many people who wanted to get away from the city began to move out to the suburbs or out of the state altogether. Many stayed, and those are the ones responsible for the current rebirth of Detroit. The story of Detroit’s population is obvious. The car industry is coming back. Hospitality Unions are widespread in the city and many new restaurants and businesses are popping up all over. “Detroit is prospering: Look no further than new or rehabbed housing developments appearing in Midtown and downtown Detroit, booming restaurants and businesses, and increased activity in New Center and, thanks to the efforts of longtime, committed residents and active, effective community organizations, in northwest Detroit and along the Livernois corridor. Some experts are predicting that next year’s numbers might even show actual population gains.” (Kaffer, 2016) The city’s rise up will be the responsibility of all the residents who decided to stick it out. One thing for sure, the diverse backgrounds of Detroiters are as unique as their love for Vernors and Paczkis.


The over 80% of the residents in the city of Detroit are African-American, another 10% includes, Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, or those of two or more races. Caucasian Americans only make up 10% of the city. Although most of the other ethnicities stay on the outskirts of the city, this market is going to be very important when it comes to developing the type of telecommunications business that comes to the city. A lot of the businesses and events that happen in the city are all created to attract the majority. Every area of Detroit is known for the people that live there but it also makes the city what it is. For example, there is a Polish community in Hamtramck and the Hispanic community in Southwest Detroit. Knowing about the culture makeup of smaller communities inside of Detroit is as important as knowing the religious affiliation of the city as a whole. Sometimes, the religious beliefs can go hand in hand with the political beliefs too.

A few years ago there was a Satanic church that opened up in the city of Detroit. It caused much controversy and many people seen it as an end of days. The church proclaimed that they were not devil worshipers and didn’t sacrifice animals, but many people protested to have the church removed. According to the statical date from City Data online, the majority of the people in Detroit don’t affiliate themselves with any religion. 43% of the resident are religious. Those beliefs range from Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, and Orthodox. Being from the city, there are baptist churches everywhere you turn. The mega churches are very popular here too. The was a television show called Detroit Pastors that tracked the everyday lives of some of Detroit’s top religious leaders.


The political affiliation of a resident in the city is majority Democratic. A few years ago was the first time they had ever elected a Republican for Mayor in the city. Under the Mayor is a city council which is all democratic too. Statically African-Americans are known to be Democratic, therefore it isn’t a surprise that the largest city in Michigan is majority Democrats. That didn’t help with the most recent election when the state as a whole became a red state because most of the people outside of Detroit voted for Trump. As a 26 year resident of Detroit, racism and division are still very prominent in the city every since the first race riots in the 1800’s and the 1960’s. When it comes to voting a particular party, some of the most important issues are immigration and employment.

Historically speaking, whenever there are jobs in Detroit there has been a boost in the population. The immigration patterns since the inception of the city have seen nearly every culture. Today,  Detroit’s foreign-born population shows between five and 15% of people in Southeastern Michigan are immigrants. (Newsroom 2013) Explain the immigration pattern of Detroit, we must look back in history. The French originally settled in Detroit. Later the British took over, and the building of the Erie Canal helped the increase population people coming to Detroit. By the 1840’s Germans and the Irish showed up in the area. Then by the 1870’s and after some restrictions on immigration were lifted Polish immigrants arrived. Russians, Hungarians, Italians, Greeks and other European nationalities were drawn to Detroit. (Walter P. Chrysler Museum). The reason why the city is majority African-American today is because of the famed underground railroad from the states to Canada. The number went from 4,000 to 120,000 in 30 years. The great depression and World War II halted some immigration but many that were displaced were drawn to Detroit. Thousands of Arabic, Hispanic, Asian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese immigrants soon arrived in Detroit. (Society, D. H. ,2017) Today, it is mostly African-Americans that stayed in the city to build families and start their legacy.

Total nonfarm employment in the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn Metropolitan Statistical Area stood at 1,985,600 in September 2016, up 39,600 or 2.0 percent over the year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported as of September 2016. This is a 1.8-percent rise from the previous year. (Bureau of Labor Statics, 2016) Again, historically employment patterns have always been high. There has been more of a decline of people than jobs. Professional and business services had the largest annual employment gain among Detroit’s supersectors. The education and health services supersector gained 9,100 jobs. The financial activities, employment in leisure and hospitality rose. The only decline in jobs was from by City government jobs. (Bureau of Labor Statics, 2016) With all the things that go on in Detroit, rather it’s what church you attend, where you work or what ethnic community you belong to, the culture of Detroit is something they all share as one.

detroit skyline 1930

The culture of Detroit ranges from the die-hard sports fan to the coney dog. Many people share a love-hate relationship with the city they love so much. You hate the decline and the crime but you love the people the culture and the pride. My city has a rich history in music. The Motor City, the birth place of the Motown sound and the mother of techno music. Yes, it all started in Detroit. People take pride in Detroit because they know where it came from. From a fort off the Detroit river to a booming car industry, being a Detroit is like being in a dysfunctional relationship that you just can’t end. To Keep it straight to the point, Music, Food, and entertainment are the centers of what life is like in Detroit. Motown Records started here in the 1950’s, Later came the rise of a Rock era with Bob Seager and the White Stripes, to name a few. Techno music was created here and is now played worldwide. This is the backdrop for a huge music scene in the area for up and coming artist and venues. Two major events that happen every year that is showcased around the globe is America’s Thanksgiving Parade and the International Freedom Festival on July 4th. These are events that families attend every year. To pay homage to the automobile, every year the North American Autoshow and the Woodward dream cruise major events. The food scene is very popular in Detroit and it is obvious. There aren’t any major chain restaurants in the city because the majority or the place people go out to eat are Coney Island or owners that have created their own chains that you can only find in Detroit. One of a unique days of the year that I haven’t been able to celebrate since I left Detroit is Paczki day!. Some call it Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, and in New Orleans, they serve King cakes. In Detroit, they eat a Polish dessert called a Paczki. They are only made one day out the year and are 1000 calories of deliciousness. So when you wonder what is the culture make up of Detroit, it can be described as the mash-up of celebrations, history, and food.

How Detroit are You?


Advameg. (2017). Religions in Wayne County, MI. Retrieved February 15, 2017, from http://www.city-data.com/county/religion/Wayne-County-MI.html

Bureau of Labor Statics. (2016, November 3). Detroit area employment — September 2016: Midwest information office: U.S. Bureau of labor statistics. Retrieved February 15, 2017, from https://www.bls.gov/regions/midwest/news-release/areaemployment_detroit.htm

Society, D. H. (2017). Timeline of Detroit. Retrieved February 15, 2017, from http://detroithistorical.org/learn/timeline-detroit/

Kaffer, N. (2016, May 19). Detroit’s latest U.S. Census numbers: Good news or bad? The Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/columnists/nancy-kaffer/2016/05/19/detroit-population-decline/84590056/

Networks2017Sandbox. (2000). Detroit, Michigan, demographic statistics. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from http://www.infoplease.com/us/census/data/michigan/detroit/demographic.html

Newsroom, M. R. (2013, July 16). Report: Metro Detroit immigrants don’t follow typical patterns. Retrieved February 15, 2017, from http://michiganradio.org/post/report-metro-detroit-immigrants-dont-follow-typical-patterns


I wrote this piece in my Telecommunications class. It was a research project to identify  rather Detroit would be a good area to start a Urban radio station.


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