A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of the City of Detroit

Edited by Albert Nelson Marquis


A. N. Marquis & Company


Copyright, 1908 by Albert Nelson Marquis

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Pages 13 – 15

Special Thanks to Bonnie Pattok for transcribing these pages and to Pam Rietsch, book owner.

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Page 13


Manufacturing came later in Detroit than mercantile or navigation interests, but it is now the most important source of the city’s prosperity. It is fostered by the advantages of water transportation already mentioned. To these are added others equally good for carriage by rail. It is both a terminal and crossing point for the two great Michigan railroad systems that reach almost every city and village in the state. It is on five of the great trunk lines between the East and the West. It has excellent connections with the whole Southwest. Recent additions to its line give it the best of southern connections, together with entrance into the coal fields of Ohio and West Virginia. It is a terminal point also for the two principal Canadian systems of railway, which reach every place of importance in the Dominion and the maritime provinces. A belt line encircles the city, crossing all of the railroads and facilitating the transfers of freight. A second belt line, to extend around the city at a uniform distance of six mile from the City Hall, has been commenced.

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Page 14

Unexcelled residence attractions, bout for employers and employees, favorable labor conditions, good municipal government, a light public debt, a low rate of taxation and an excellent home market are among the other inducements to the location of factories in Detroit.

The city first cut an appreciable figure in the census returns of manufactures in 1860. In the next ten years the capital invested increased 256 per cent. and the value of the product 303 per cent. increased by a much larger percentage than the quantity of the output. From 1870 to 1880 was a period of declining values, and while the quantity of manufactured goods increased, the total returns for the product remained nearly stationary. Since 1880 each decade has shown a substantial increase. In that year Detroit was the nineteenth city in the country in the value of its manufactured product; in 1890 it was sixteenth and in 1900 it was fifteenth; it is now probably as high as twelfth.

Within the past seven years Detroit has made a more rapid growth than in any previous period of equal length, and more rapid than any other city of its class. A state census taken in 1904, with the aid of federal agents, furnished a measure of the first part of this expansion. Some of the items from the official table were as follows:

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1900 1904 Increase
Number of Establishments 1,263 1,363 7.9
Capital employed $67,544,972 $91,228,214 35.1
Number of wage earners 38,481 48,879 27.0
Wages paid 15,392,527 22,786,576 48.0
Cost of Materials 47,175,012 66,794,969 41.6
Value of product




The figures are only for establishments working under the factory system. If hand traders were included as they were in the government table up to 1900, they would add from $12,000,000 to $15,000,000 to the product. Manufactories in adjacent villages, which were for business purposes essentially a part of Detroit, had a product in 1900 of about $10,000,000, and in 1904 of $12,000,000. Three of these villages have since been annexed to the city. The latest reports of the state factory inspectors supplement these figures by others giving still more striking indications of growth. In 1905 the inspectors visited 1,576 factories in Detroit with 76,730 employees. In 1906 they visited 1,638 with 86,370 employees.

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Page 15

The census classification failed to give some of the most important industries separately, and for a number of them business has been much more active since than it was in the census year. For these reasons the Board of Commerce undertook a separate inquiry upon the business of 1905 and has followed it up by subsequent investigation. Unprecedented activity in carbuilding, shipbuilding and some of the iron manufactories, and the addition of new industries brought the total product for 1905 up to $170,000,000 and for 1906 to $180,000,000. The output of some of the leading industries for 1906 was a follows:

Car building, freight, passenger and electric


Automobiles 12,000,000
Druggists’ preparations 10,900,000
Clothing, knit goods, boots and shoes, etc. 10,500,000
Paints and varnish 10,000,000
Coarse chemicals 10,000,000
Stove and steam heating apparatus 9,300,000
Food products, aside from meats 9,500,000
Foundry and machine shop products 9,500,000
Slaughtering and meat packing 5,500,000
Newspaper publishing 5,200,000
Other printing and publishing 5,000,000
Furniture 5,500,000
Tobacco and cigars 4,500,000
Malt Liquors


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