Business, Economics and Jobs

Back off bankruptcy: Detroit's influence lives on


The Detroit skyline.


Bill Pugliano

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Detroit may not be shining its brightest right now. At a time like this, Detroiters—and the world—can take some solace in the city’s motto: “We hope for better things," and, “It will arise from the ashes.” Never a city to give up, here are a few samples of what Detroit gave us in the past, which might bring us some hope for the future:


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1. The traffic light.

William L. Potts, a Detroit policeman, invented the first automatic traffic light. His three-color, four-way signal—the first to use yellow—was installed in 1920, overhanging the intersection of Woodward and Michigan Avenues.


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2. Ford's Model-T

Henry Ford’s Detroit Automobile Company released the first mass-produced car—the Model T—in 1908. It revolutionized travel for the working class, and introduced the world to a moving assembly-line.


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3. Vernors Ginger-ale

Vernors lays claim to the oldest continuously-produced soda in the US. James Vernor, the company’s founder and Michigan’s first registered pharmacist, stored the flavorful concoction at his pharmacy before being called to serve in the American Civil War.


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4. Carhartt

Known for hardy, everyday-work clothes, the brad is synonymous with toughness and reliability. Hamilton Carhartt started the Carhartt company in Detroit in 1889, producing canvas-type overalls which became an American staple.


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5. Motown

At the urging of Smoky Robinson, Berry Gordy setup Motown Records in 1959, a label which oversaw the likes of The Temptations and The Jackson 5. Motown's influence on the American civil rights movement and pop culture can still be heard today.