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James P. Kaetz, Auburn University
Detroit is located in the northwest corner of Lamar County in the northwest part of Alabama. It has a mayor/city council form of government.


Established in the 1870s, Detroit was originally called Millville for the many mills in the area. The first post office was established in the 1880s in the first store to open in the town, which was owned and operated by brothers Jim and Howard Davidson. The town's name was changed at that time to Detroit to avoid confusion with another Alabama town named Millerville. The town built a high school in the 1890s. Businesses in the area included a flour mill, a grist mill (operated until 1939), a sawmill (operated until 1934), and a cotton gin (operated until 1927). The town also had several stores, a salon, a tannery, and a blacksmith shop. Detroit was incorporated in 1955. At about the same time, a textile mill located in the area and employed about 100 people. Oil was found near Detroit in 1970, one of several strikes in Lamar County. Today, the town has its own water system, a volunteer fire department, and a rescue squad.


Detroit's population according to the 2010 Census was 237. Of that number, 83.1 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 13.9 percent as African American, 3.0 percent as two or more races, and 0.4 percent as Hispanic or Latino. The town's median household income, according to 2010 estimates, was $25,536, and the per capita income was $17,818.


According to 2010 Census estimates, the work force in Detroit was divided among the following industrial categories:

· Retail trade (44.4 percent)
· Manufacturing (18.5 percent)
· Construction (11.1 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (11.1   percent)
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (9.3 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste   management services (3.7 percent)
· Public administration (1.9 percent)


Students in Detroit attend Lamar County schools; no public schools are located within the town limits.


State Highway 17 bisects Detroit running northeast-southwest.

Additional Resources

Lamar County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Lamar County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2000.

Smith, Rose Marie. Lamar County, Alabama: A History to 1900. Vernon, Ala.: Rose Marie Smith, 1987.
Published:  February 5, 2014   |   Last updated:  March 6, 2015