From The Ashes: Detroit by Night is set in a fictional version of Detroit, Michigan. You are encouraged to read the RL Detroit article on Wikipedia to orient yourself but understand that our Detroit differs from the real one in several key ways.
The World of Darkness
The World of Darkness is a dystopian urban fantasy world created by White Wolf. Much ink has been spilled about it, and the link at the start of this section will give you plenty to read. Classic World of Darkness is the particular setting we use.
Detroit is the most populous city in the state of Michigan. It is the county seat of Wayne County, which is the most populous county in the state. It has the further distinction of being the most populous city on the US/Canadian border.
It rests on the banks of the Detroit River from which it draws its name. Founded in 1701 by French explorer and adventurer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, Detroit gained prominence in the 1950s and 1960s when the region's freeway system finished development. It is the industrial and financial heart of the six-county Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is home to some 4.3 million people.
The city has, as a result of the general decline of the US auto industry and domestic manufacturing as a rule, been forced to re-invent itself. Downtown Detroit, in particular, has become an entertainment hub for the region with three new casinos, new stadiums, and a riverfront revitalization project - beyond the gilding, however, the signs of economic distress are obvious. See 'economy' below for more.
Detroit operates under the Strong Mayoral system. See 'government' below for more.
The 2010 Census showed Detroit itself as the home to 713,777 people, in 269,445 households - less than one-half it's 1950s peak of 1.8 million. The housing stock was 349,170 units, an oversupply of roughly 80 thousand units. Detroit has massive swaths of abandoned property as a result. The population decline has NOT been representative of the demographics of the city, however. Generally speaking, Detroit is one of the worst cases of White Flight in the history of the whole United States.
In 1950 the population was 90% white. Today the population, impoverished and struggling, is 82.7% African American. The city is 1% Asian, 0.4 Native American, and 0.02 Pacific Islander. 7% of the city identifies as Hispanic or Latino. If your character isn't African American, they are a tremendously noticable minority. Please play accordingly. Most white folks live outside the city limits.
Roughly one third of the city's population is under the age of 18. Only 10% are 65 years or older and less than another 10% are of college age. Detroit is a place you get out of, if you can.
Of the roughly 270,000 households one third have children in the home, one fifth are married couples, and one third again have a female householder with no husband. Only one third of all households were made up of individuals.
Poverty is rampant. The median household income in Detroit is below the US average by several thousand dollars. The per-capita income in 2010 was $14,118, making Detroit one of the poorest large cities in the country. Most anyone of affluence in the Detroit area lives in Oakland county, a good distance out of the city.
In 2012 the city's unemployment rate was a soul-crushing 15.8%. Major employers left in the area include: Compuware, OnStar, Blue Cross Blue Shield, HP Enterprise Services, Price Waterhouse Cooper, Ernst & Young, and Quicken Loans. Corporate offices for General Motors, American Axle & Manufacturing, Lowe Campbell and DTE Energy can all be found in Detroit.
The economy of Detroit has been transitioning out of manufacturing to financial services, tourism, and entertainment services including three new casinos. Despite the growing industrial and economic diversity, Detroit's recovery seems very far away.
In January of 2013 voters approved Measure 2, which facilitated a consolidation of the city's resources around the downtown core. This has preserved a sort of prosperous feel to the core, despite the harsh, impoverished realty of the majority of the city. Huge swaths of what was once Detroit have become tract after tract of abandoned, condemned housing - mostly single family units that have begun decaying into ruins and urban prairie.
As a direct result of this abandoned, unwatched territory, Detroit's gang and organized crime elements have flourished. The black market in Detroit is a bustling - though unsurveyed - hub of economic vitality for the city; though not without its own costs.
Detroit operates under a Strong-Mayoral system of government. The City Government is headed by the Mayor who has complete authority to appoint department managers, make executive decisions about city department policy, and ignore earmarks in Council-approved budgets.
The Mayor is supported by a 9-member City Council who have the sole authority to pass any City Ordinances as well as oversee any contracts offered by the city in sums larger than $500,000.
The City Clerk oversees elections and is responsible for keeping the city records.
The three School Board members serve as the sole executive authority not appointed by the mayor. They are charged with establishing policies for the newly reformed Detroit Public Schools district including curriculum decisions and day-to-day administration, they appoint their own staff.
The Mayor, Clerk, School Board members and City Council Members are all elected at-large in years following US Presidential Elections. The last election took place in 2017. The next will be in 2021.
- Current Mayor: Stephen L. Jones (Dem)
- Current City Clerk: Paulina Letitia (Dem)
- City Council: Doug P. LeBlanc (Rep), Melissa H. Porter (Rep), Jules Aubenall (Dem), Montgomery O. MacNamara (Dem), James Overby (Ind), Caren Wright (Ind), Timothy R. W. Rand Jr. (Ind), Heath Duncan (Ind), Irene A. Brandt (Ind)
- School Board: Loretta T. Fisher (Ind), Michael R. Sanderson (Ind), Brian P. Stenn (Ind)
(Main article: Measure 2)
In January 2013 the City Clerk certified City of Detroit Public Measure 2: A Referendum To Approve The Relocation of Persons Living In Identified Distressed Neighborhoods And The Disincorporation of Those Neighborhoods.
This ballot measure passed with a minimum majority support and triggered a series of events which are still playing themselves out. Outlying areas of Detroit which were distressed due to abandoned properties were disincorporated from the city. The city's boundaries were re-drawn, making Detroit smaller and more consolidated. Many of the disincorporated areas still had small clusters of families and individuals living in them. Those individuals were forcibly relocated to other housing that was within the city limits, at the City's expense. These relocations are still ongoing and many relocation orders are being contested in the Michigan Courts. To date, the Michigan Courts have ruled in favor of the City every time.