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The Detroit Museum of Art

In: Valuing Detroit’s Art Museum


  • Jeffrey Abt

    (Wayne State University)


Little in Detroit’s origins suggests it might create one of America’s largest and most distinguished art museums. The city began as a settlement along the western side of a waterway that became a route for westward expansion and trade through the chain of “great lakes” from the Atlantic coast to the American interior. Eventually called the Detroit River, it not only connects Lake St. Clair on the north with Lake Erie toward the south, it also provides a comparatively narrow crossing point from the east—now the Canadian province of Ontario—to the west—now Michigan. The strategic importance of this intersection of water and land passages was first recognized by French explorers who established a frontier trading post and fortification there in 1701 that came to be known as Detroit two years later. For another sixty years the French governed the slowly growing settlement until it was conquered by the British who remained more or less in control until they were forced out by the United States during the War of 1812.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey Abt, 2017. "The Detroit Museum of Art," Palgrave Studies in American Economic History, in: Valuing Detroit’s Art Museum, chapter 0, pages 1-44, Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:psichp:978-3-319-45219-7_1
    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-45219-7_1

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