Immigrants have played a vital role in Detroit’s history and diversity in Southeastern Michigan. If you want to move here, you’d be wise to learn about the city’s past. Detroit is known for its rich history, and much of it can be attributed to movements that continue to shape the city.
Firstly, most immigrants to the United States and Detroit came from northern and western Europe, and later they were followed by eastern and southern Europeans. Detroit once was the third-largest U.S. settlement for immigrants.
Early Detroiters were the European settlers that arrived in Southeastern Michigan in 1701. Following the French and Indian War, Detroit got new habitants – British traders. This gave a new look to the city, but it began to grow after it passed into American hands along with the migration of “Yankees and Yorkers.”
In the nineteenth century, large numbers of Irish and Germans arrived in Michigan, but Detroit was also a picked destination for immigrants from England, Scotland, and Scandinavian countries. Later on, before the restrictions on migrations, Detroit immigrants were drawn from Russia, Hungary, Italy, Greece, and other European countries. However, the largest Detroit immigration group was Canadians.
The main reason for the boom years of immigration in Detroit was the rapid expansion of the automobile industry. Besides people from most of the European countries, this migration also drew people from American farms, as well as miners from Pennsylvania and Indiana, because of a simultaneous coal-mining slump. There was a small African American community that existed in Detroit for more than 150 years. However, During this Detroit immigration, African Americans coming from the southeast were a significant part of it.
These various migrations of people from all around Europe made Detroit a place for Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Jewish, until restrictive laws passed and severely limited all immigration.
After World War I, Detroit experienced some of the worst economic conditions of any city in America, which virtually stopped Detroit’s immigration. However, migrations began again during World War II as Detroit started to convert to military production, and the primary labor force came from American farms once again.
In the post-war years, the state started to relax strict immigration laws periodically and to accommodate displaced persons and refugees from various parts of the world. Eventually, besides displaced Europeans, thousands of Arabic, Hispanic, Asian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese immigrants came to Detroit.