Oak Park, Michigan

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This article is about the city in Oakland County. For the unincorporated community, see Oak Park, Calhoun County, Michigan.
Oak Park
City of Oak Park
Motto: "The Family City"
Location in the state of Michigan
Location in the state of Michigan
Coordinates: 42°28′2″N 83°10′46″W / 42.46722°N 83.17944°W / 42.46722; -83.17944Coordinates: 42°28′2″N 83°10′46″W / 42.46722°N 83.17944°W / 42.46722; -83.17944
Country United States
State Michigan
County Oakland
Incorporated 1927 (village)
1945 (city)
 • Mayor Marian McClellan
 • City 5.16 sq mi (13.36 km2)
 • Land 5.16 sq mi (13.36 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 666 ft (203 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • City 29,319
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 29,594
 • Density 5,682.0/sq mi (2,193.8/km2)
 • Metro 5,456,428
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 48237
Area code(s) 248, 313
FIPS code 26-59920[4]
GNIS feature ID 0633849[5]
Website http://www.ci.oak-park.mi.us/

Oak Park is a city in south Oakland County of the U.S. state of Michigan. Oak Park is a northern suburb of the city of Detroit, which is located in neighboring Wayne County. As of the 2010 census, its population is 29,319.


The area that was to become Oak Park existed within Royal Oak Township, and was first settled in 1840, but remained sparsely populated for many decades following. The first major housing development came in 1914 when the township sold land to the Majestic Land Company to be developed as the Oak Park subdivision.[6] The subdivision was incorporated as a village on May 3, 1927. Two petition drives to dissolve the village government and return it to the township citing "excessively high cost of village government" failed in 1931 and 1933, respectively.[6] The village incorporated as city on October 29, 1945.

Planned developments in the late 1950s resulted in Oak Park being named "America's Fastest Growing City" at one point.[7] Major civic improvements in this period included the addition of an outdoor swimming pool and an ice rink in Major Park (now known as Shepherd Park, after former mayor David Shepherd, but long known informally as Oak Park Park).

In both 2002 and 2004, the city annexed portions of neighboring Royal Oak Township.[8]

On November 8, 2011 the citizens of Oak Park, MI voted in a new mayor, Mrs. Marian McClellan. Mayor McClellan is the city's first new mayor in 22 years replacing Jerry Naftaly.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.16 square miles (13.36 km2), all of it land.[1]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1930 1,079
1940 1,169 8.3%
1950 5,267 350.6%
1960 36,632 595.5%
1970 36,762 0.4%
1980 31,537 −14.2%
1990 30,468 −3.4%
2000 29,739 −2.4%
2010 29,319 −1.4%
Est. 2012 29,594 0.9%

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 29,319 people, 11,719 households, and 7,533 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,682.0 inhabitants per square mile (2,193.8/km2). There were 12,782 housing units at an average density of 2,477.1 per square mile (956.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 37.4% White, 57.4% African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.4% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 3.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.4% of the population.

There were 11,719 households of which 33.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.4% were married couples living together, 23.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.7% were non-families. 30.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 11% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.16.

The median age in the city was 37.5 years. 24.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.7% were from 25 to 44; 26.9% were from 45 to 64; and 12.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 45.1% male and 54.9% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[4] of 2000, there are 29,793 people, 11,104 households, and 7,595 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,291.5/km² (5,932.0/mi²). There are 11,370 housing units at an average density of 874.5/km² (2,263.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 46.95% White, 45.95% African American, 0.17% Native American, 2.18% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.60% from other races, and 4.13% from two or more races. 1.28% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 11,104 households out of which 34.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.0% are married couples living together, 19.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 31.6% are non-families. 26.6% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.68 and the average family size is 3.29.

In the city the population is spread out with 28.2% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 35 years. For every 100 females there are 88.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 81.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $48,697, and the median income for a family is $54,786. Males have a median income of $40,922 versus $35,968 for females. The per capita income for the city is $21,677. 9.4% of the population and 7.8% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 10.9% of those under the age of 18 and 13.9% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Notable people[edit]

  • Jamie Arnold, American-Israeli professional basketball player with Hapoel Holon
  • Well-known Detroit actors Rube and Liz Weiss lived in Oak Park during the middle 20th century [9]
  • Larry Downes, co-author of Unleashing the Killer App: Digital Strategies for Market Dominance and writer for Forbes was raised in Oak Park.
  • Robert Ettinger, known as the father of cryonics human preservation, lived in Oak Park for decades and was rumored to have deceased clients stored in his home, awaiting their cures and re-animation.
  • Al Kaline, Detroit Tiger baseball legend and Hall of Fame member lived on Morton Street between Sunset and Albany in the late 1950s.
  • Ryan "Royce da 5'9"" Montgomery, Detroit rapper who is well known for his association with Eminem as Bad Meets Evil and Slaughterhouse"
  • Norm Cash, who played for the Detroit Tigers from 1960-1974, lived a couple of blocks from his teammate Al Kaline, on Sloman Street between Jerome and Saratoga.
  • David Weiss (a.k.a. David Was) and Don Fagenson (a.k.a. Don Was) from the group Was (Not Was) grew up together in Oak Park.
  • Jeffrey Sachs, famous economist formerly at Harvard University and currently at Columbia University is a graduate of Oak Park High School.
  • Attorney Geoffrey Fieger who represented Jack Kevorkian grew up in Oak Park and graduated from Oak Park High School in 1969.
  • Geoffrey's younger brother Doug Fieger was the lead singer of the group The Knack whose hit songs are (among others) "My Sharona" and "Good Girls Don't".
  • Curt Sobel, Composer, Film Music Editor and Supervisor, grew up in Oak Park and lived on Northfield and Harding.
  • Author and editor Ron Suresha attended grade school in Oak Park and was graduated from OPHS.
  • Mort Meisner, noted Detroit media guru, lived on Sunset Street.
  • Bob Black, who grew up in Oak Park and lived on Kipling Street, graduating from Oak Park High School, is a prominent theorist of the international anarchist movement, and the author of the widely disseminated essay "The Abolition of Work."
  • Peter Werbe is a radio talk show host, DJ, and political activist. He has lived in Oak Park for 26 years. He hosts NightCall on Sunday nights on Detroit's WRIF 101.1 FM. Werbe's tenure, having commenced in 1970, makes him the longest broadcasting talk show host in radio history, and certainly for one with progressive views. He also has been a staff member of the 48-year-old newspaper, The Fifth Estate.[10] He is also the host of a daily five hour alternative classic rock show on WCSX HD2's Deep Trax [1] channel.
  • Dan and Tracee Miller are musicians in the band Blanche who currently reside in Oak Park. Dan Miller also made his acting debut in Walk The Line playing Luther Perkins, and Tracee is a notable Detroit artist.
  • Joseph Bruce (Violent J) and Joseph Utsler (Shaggy 2 Dope), better known as Insane Clown Posse met in Oak Park. Along with Utsler's brother, John, and friend, Lacy, they wrestled in backyard rings that they had built themselves.[2] In 1989, Joseph Bruce, as Jagged Joe, Joseph Utsler, as Kangol Joe, and John Utsler, as Master J, released the single titled "Party at the Top of the Hill" under the name of JJ Boys, but the group did not pursue a serious career in music.


Oak Park's educational history began with the Clinton School, a one-room schoolhouse on property donated by Barney Clinton in the early 20th century. As the population grew fast, Clinton School grew and more elementary schools were built.

Clinton School was made a Junior High School and another was built in the mid 1960s, then named for the great poet Robert Frost. At that time, there was only one school in Oak Park with a "special education" department for children with learning disabilities: Lessenger Elementary School on Albany St. at Sunset St. Consequently, many families with such special children gravitated to the neighborhood surrounding Lessenger, creating a "cluster" of such families rarely found elsewhere.

Educational achievement was the long consistent pattern in Oak Park. Over 85% of Oak Park High School graduates continued their education immediately after high school, whether in college, or in trade or vocational schools. The school system was renowned statewide for decades in large part due to the efforts of often wildly progressive and dedicated teachers.

The high school had an average score of 3.8 on the state's MEAP test in 2011. This was one of the lowest scores in Oakland County.[11]

Students residing between 10 and 11 mile are in the Berkley School District. A square mile on the east end of Oak Park is in the Ferndale Schools while the rest (majority) of the city is in Oak Park Schools.


In July 2011 the City of Oak Park charged Julie Bass, a homeowner, for growing vegetables in her front yard. The vegetables were tomatoes, zucchinis, and peppers (http://abcnews.go.com/US/vegetable-garden-brings-criminal-charges-oak-park-michigan/story?id=14047214). The charges of "illegal gardening", which were punishable with fines and up to 93 days in jail, were eventually dropped (http://www.naturalnews.com/033175_Julie_Bass_Oak_Park.html).


External links[edit]