Birmingham, Michigan: Difference between revisions

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
m (update)
(Notable residents)
Line 150: Line 150:
* [[David Spade]], actor and comedian
* [[David Spade]], actor and comedian
* [[Sheila Young]], speed skater and first American Olympian to place first, second and third (receiving a gold, a silver and a bronze medal) while competing at the [[Innsbruck]] [[1976 Winter Olympics]]
* [[Sheila Young]], speed skater and first American Olympian to place first, second and third (receiving a gold, a silver and a bronze medal) while competing at the [[Innsbruck]] [[1976 Winter Olympics]]
*[[Paul Collins]], famous scholar and socialite.
==External links==
==External links==

Revision as of 03:21, 9 October 2009

Birmingham, Michigan
Location of Birmingham, Michigan
Location of Birmingham, Michigan
Country United States
State Michigan
County Oakland
Settled 1819
Incorporated 1864 (village)
Incorporated 1932 (city)
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Mayor Tom McDaniel
 • City Manager Thomas M. Markus
 • City 4.8 sq mi (12.4 km2)
 • Land 4.8 sq mi (12.4 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 778 ft (237 m)
Population (2000)
 • City 19,291
 • Density 4,036/sq mi (1,558.2/km2)
 • Metro 5,456,428
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 48009, 48012
Area code(s) 248
FIPS code 26-08640Template:GR
GNIS feature ID 0621444[2]

Birmingham is an upscale city in Oakland County of the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2000 census, the total population was 19,291. An affluent suburb of Detroit, the city hosts a downtown that attracts shoppers from throughout the Metro Detroit area.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.8 mi² (12.4 km², of which 4.8 mi² (12.4 km²) is land and 0.21% is water. Reed Fenton is the mayor.


As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there were 19,291 people, 9,131 households, and 5,076 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,038.4 per square mile (1,558.2/km²). There were 9,700 housing units at an average density of 2,030.6/sq mi (783.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.13% White, 0.91% African American, 0.15% Native American, 1.50% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.19% from other races, and 1.09% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.19% of the population.

There were 9,131 households out of which 24.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.6% were married couples living together, 6.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.4% were non-families. 38.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.85.

In the city the population was spread out with 21.2% under the age of 18, 3.9% from 18 to 24, 34.9% from 25 to 44, 26.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $80,861, and the median income for a family was $110,627. Males had a median income of $78,865 versus $51,834 for females. The per capita income for the city was $59,314. About 1.6% of families and 2.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.5% of those under age 18 and 3.3% of those age 65 or over.


The area comprising what is now the city of Birmingham was part of land ceded by Native American tribes to the United States government by the 1807 Treaty of Detroit.[3] However, settlement was delayed first by the War of 1812 and subsequently by an unfavorable report by the Surveyor-General of the United States, Edward Tiffin regarding the placement of Military Bounty Lands for veterans of the War of 1812.[4][5] Tiffin's report claimed that "There would not be an acre out of a hundred, if there would be one out of a thousand that would, in any case, admit cultivation." In 1818, Territorial Governor Lewis Cass lead a group of men along the Indian Trail. The Governor's party discovered the swamp was not as extensive as Tiffin had supposed. Not long after Cass issued a more encouraging report about the land, interest quickened in its suitability for settlement.

The earliest land entry was made on January 28, 1819, by Colonel Benjamin H. Pierce (brother of future U.S. President Franklin Pierce) for the northwest quarter of section 36. Colonel Pierce visited his land several times, but never settled on it.[6] In March 1818, John W. Hunter and his brother Daniel left Auburn, New York by sleigh and traveled to Michigan by way of Upper Canada. They waited in Detroit for their father and other family members who arrived by schooner over Lake Erie in July. The family remained in Detroit until spring 1819 when John W. made an entry for the northeast quarter of section 36 now in the southeast section of current-day Birmingham. Lacking a proper land survey, John W. mistakenly built his log house on a tract later purchased by Elijah Willets. That house was later occupied by William Hall, a son-in-law of Elisha Hunter, while John W. Hunter built another log house a short distance to the southeast. On September 25, 1821, Elijah Willets made a land entry for the southwest quarter of section 25. Two days later, Major John Hamilton made an entry for the southeast quarter of section 25. Each of these initial land entries met at what is now the intersection of Maple Rd. and Pierce St.

For a time, all three men, John W. Hunter, Major Hamilton, and Elijah Willets operated hotels and taverns from their houses within a short distance from each other. While Hunter did not continue for very long, Hamilton and Willets continued a rivalry for many years, competing with each other for business from travelers on Woodward Avenue[7] between Detroit and Pontiac. The growing settlement was known variously as "Hamilton's", "Hunter's", or "Willets'"; it was later known as "Piety Hill". The settlement's original plat was surveyed and recorded on August 25, 1836, in the northwest quarter of section 36 then owned by Rosewell T. Merrill who also ran the town foundry and the thrashing machine factory. Merrill named his plat "Birmingham" after Birmingham, England in the hope that the new settlement would similarly become a great industrial center.[8] Elijah Willets recorded a plat on his property on December 20, 1837. John W. Hunter followed suit with two plats on his property on January 31, 1840, and June 21, 1842, while Major Hamilton laid out a plat on October 7, 1846. Several other properties were subsequently platted as additions. The plats made in 1836 and 1837 were in anticipation of completion of the Detroit and Pontiac Railroad.

Now known as "Birmingham", the village first received mail through the "Bloomfield" post office. Birmingham established its own post office on April 5, 1838. The settlement incorporated as a village in 1864, comprising the northern half of section 36 and the southern half of section 25 with a total land area of one square mile. The first village elections were held March 1, 1864 and was soon governed by a seven-man board of trustees who appointed a marshal and a treasurer. Birmingham re-incorporated as a city in 1933.

The names of the city's founders are seen throughout Birmingham in places such as Pierce Elementary School, Hunter House Hamburgers (which was located on the road formerly known as Hunter Boulevard, which bypassed downtown to the east and was renamed Woodward, with the original Woodward Avenue section renamed Old Woodward), The Hamilton Hotel, The Willets Building and Merrill St. Hall & Hunter Realtors named themselves in tribute to the builder and occupier of Birmingham's first home.

The Eccentric

George H. Mitchell and Almeron Whitehead, who were two of a small group of bachelors who had formed a club called The Eccentrics, published the first edition of their newspaper which they named after their club on May 2, 1878. At a price of 2 cents, The Eccentric provided a "live home paper, replete with all the news of the day" with considerable emphasis on the "local items of importance occurring in Birmingham and immediate vicinity". By the turn of the 20th Century, The Eccentric ran advertisements for Detroit stores and theaters as well as offers of property and houses suitable for the "commuter." In the 1920s, the slogan of The Eccentric was "For A Bigger and Better Birmingham". Today, the Birmingham Eccentric Newspaper continues its role as keeper of the community's local heritage. [9]


Google operates its Detroit-area offices in Birmingham.[10]


Birmingham City School District administers several nationally accredited schools including Seaholm High School and Groves High School. Roeper School has a campus on Adams Road. The Holy Name School is a parochial school founded by the Roman Catholic Holy Name Church. It educates in grades pre-K to 8. The school was established in 1928, along with a now non-existent convent for IHM nuns. The church and school continue to operate in conjunction today.

Public library

The Baldwin Public Library serves the city of Birmingham and nearby communities of Beverly Hills and Bingham Farms. The original building first opened to the public on December 19, 1927. In October 1959, an extension for the Youth Department was added to the east side of the building. In 1983, another addition opened changing the entrance to Merrill St. There are over 120,000 books in the library along with CDs, DVDs, periodicals, educational toys, databases and free wifi.

The library is named after Martha Baldwin, a civic leader and lifelong resident of Birmingham who was instrumental in establishing the first library. She also helped get sidewalks for the business section, street lights, seats placed at interurban transit stops, flowers and trees planted and wastebaskets placed at the street corners.


The city's downtown district has many coffee houses, ice cream parlors, upscale apparel and home furnishing shops, restaurants and theatres. The Townsend Hotel is one of the state's premiere locations for lodging and is the choice for many celebrities visiting or working in Southeastern Michigan.

Some popular restaurants include: Leo's Coney Island; Greek Isles Coney Island; Forte, a high class restaurant located near the Uptown Birmingham Theater; Max and Erma's; 220 Merrill; Tokyo Sushi and Grill; The Rugby Grille, located inside the Townsend Hotel; Cameron's Steakhouse and Mitchell's Fish Market (located next door to each other); and Old Woodward Deli.

The downtown offers a wide variety of shopping choices. Children's stores include Adventures in Toys. Caruso Caruso satisfies trendy teenagers with top designer names.


The city has over twenty parks with many amenities including tennis courts, baseball diamonds, playgrounds, golf courses, sledding hills, nature trails, picnic areas and deep woods. Shain Park, the city's main commons, is the site of the Village Fair, art shows, summer music concerts and numerous community events all beneath "The Freedom of the Human Spirit" sculpted by Marshall Fredericks.


Birmingham was a stagecoach stop in the 19th Century between Detroit and Pontiac. On June 18, 1896, the Oakland Railway, the electric interurban, came to Birmingham and provided service to Detroit in 40 minutes; the service ended in 1931. Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) currently operates local and regional bus transit.

Amtrak provides passenger rail service on the Pontiac-Detroit-Chicago Wolverine with a stop in Birmingham three times per day in each direction (see also Birmingham, Michigan (Amtrak station)).

In 1839, the railroad tracks were extended to Birmingham with two steam trains a day running to Detroit. By 1931, the Grand Trunk Western Railroad (GTW) moved the tracks to their present location and provided commuter rail service from Pontiac to downtown Detroit with a stop in Birmingham. The Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority (SEMTA) took control of this service in 1968 but was ended on October 17, 1983 after subsidies were discontinued. Efforts continue to this day to restore such service.

Class one freight rail service is provided by Canadian National Railway (CN).


The First United Methodist Church was established in 1821 with its first services conducted in Elijah Willits' tavern. Its current location was built in 1839; it is now the oldest church building in the city.[11][12] Currently, there are other houses of worship spanning many different religions.

Notable residents

"The Freedom of the Human Spirit" by Marshall Fredericks

External links


  1. ^ City of Birmingham, MI: City Commission
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Birmingham, Michigan
  3. ^ Seeley pp. 188-189
  4. ^ Seeley,pp. 27-28
  5. ^ Description of the military land in Michigan, report by surveyor-general Edward Tiffin, November 30, 1815, in Michigan As a Province, Territory and State, the Twenty-Sixth Member of the Federal Union Vol. 2, by Henry M. Utley and Clarence M. Cutcheon. pg. 254-255.
  6. ^ Seeley p.372
  7. ^ Woodward Ave. History
  8. ^ Romig, Walter (1986) [1973]. Michigan Place Names. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1838-X. 
  9. ^ City of Birmingham, MI: The Birmingham Eccentric
  10. ^ "Google Offices." Google. Retrieved on July 12, 2009.
  11. ^ First United Methodist Church History
  12. ^ Tutag, Nola Huse, and Lucy Hamilton. Discovering Stained Glass in Detroit [1]