Detroit has become the largest city in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy.
State-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr on Thursday asked a federal judge permission to place the city into Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.
If approved, the filing would allow Orr to liquidate city assets to satisfy a host of creditors and city pensioners lined up to recoup losses from bad bond investments and unpaid contracts.
A number of factors - most notably steep population and tax base falls - have been blamed on Detroit's tumble toward insolvency.
Detroit lost a quarter-million residents between 2000 and 2010.
Orr was unable to convince enough creditors, bondholders and employee pension representatives to accept pennies on the dollar as he attempted a fiscal restructuring of Detroit.