Detroit's state-appointed emergency manager has told a press conference that the move to bankruptcy was "tool" to give the city "breathing room".
Bankruptcy is a tool in our toolbox to get at the goals that we want to achieve.
It gives us breathing room. We are being sued on almost a weekly basis and that's the very thing that I have pleaded for - not to happen.
Once a powerhouse of the US car industry, Detroit has filed for bankruptcy as it owes creditors almost $20bn it cannot pay.
Detroit, once a booming American metropolis, has become the largest US city to file for bankruptcy, with debts of at least $18bn.