Birmingham, Michigan

Birmingham, Michigan

Infobox Settlement
official_name = Birmingham, Michigan
settlement_type = City
nickname =
website =

imagesize =
image_caption =



mapsize = 250px
map_caption = Location of Birmingham, Michigan
government_type = Council-Manager
leader_title = Mayor
leader_name = Tom McDaniel
leader_title1 = City Manager
leader_name1 = Thomas M. Markus
government_footnotes = [ [ City of Birmingham, MI: City Commission ] ]

mapsize1 =
map_caption1 =
subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_type1 = State
subdivision_type2 = County
subdivision_name = United States
subdivision_name1 = Michigan
subdivision_name2 = Oakland
established_title = Settled
established_date = 1819
established_title2 = Incorporated
established_date2 = 1864 (village)
established_title3 = Incorporated
established_date3 = 1932 (city)
area_magnitude =
area_total_km2 = 12.4
area_land_km2 = 12.4
percent_water = 0.24
population_footnotes =
population_as_of = 2000
population_total = 19291
population_metro = 5456428
population_density_km2 = 1558.2
timezone = EST
utc_offset = -5
timezone_DST = EDT
utc_offset_DST = -4
elevation_ft = 778
latd = 42 |latm = 32 |lats = 48 |latNS = N
longd = 83 |longm = 12 |longs = 41 |longEW = W
area_water_km2 = 0.0
area_total_sq_mi = 4.8
area_land_sq_mi = 4.8
area_water_sq_mi = 0.0
elevation_m = 237
postal_code_type = ZIP codes
postal_code = 48009, 48012
area_code = 248
blank_name = FIPS code
blank_info = 26-08640GR|2
blank1_name = GNIS feature ID
blank1_info = 0621444GR|3
footnotes =

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.


As of the censusGR|2 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. [Seeley [ pp. 188-189] ] 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. [Seeley, [;cc=micounty;idno=bad1028.0001.001;frm=frameset;seq=75 pp. 27-28] ] [ [,M1 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.] 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. [ [;cc=micounty;idno=bad1028.0001.001;didno=BAD1028.0001.001;view=image;seq=424;page=root;size=s;frm=frameset Seeley p.372] ] 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 [ [ Woodward Ave. History] ] 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.cite book | last = Romig | first = Walter | year = 1986 | title = Michigan Place Names | origyear= 1973 | publisher = Wayne State University Press | location = Detroit, Michigan | id = ISBN 0-8143-1838-X] 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, which bypassed downtown and was renamed to Woodward with the original Woodward Avenue section being referred to as 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 two 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 wells 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. [ [ City of Birmingham, MI: The Birmingham Eccentric ] ]


Birmingham City School District administers several nationally accredited schools including Seaholm High School and Groves High School. Roeper School has a campus on Adams Rd. while Holy Name School, a parochial school affiliated with the Roman Catholic Holy Name Church, lies up the way from Quarton Lake.

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: Greek Boys Coney Island (formerly Leo's Coney Island), a Greek restaurant serving pitas, salads and gyros; Forte, a high class restaurant located near the Uptown Birmingham Theater; 220 Merrill; Tokyo Sushi and Grill; Greek Isles; The Rugby Grille; 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, Roses are Red and Babyhood. Caruso Caruso satisfies trendy teenagers with top designer names. There are also small decor stores such as Fuschia Frog, Ribbons, Barbara's Paper Bag, and Woodward and Maple. The Varsity Shop is a popular destination for sports equipment and apparel.


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 Spirit of Freedom" 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. [ [ First United Methodist Church History] ] [Tutag, Nola Huse, and Lucy Hamilton. "Discovering Stained Glass in Detroit" [,M1] ] Currently, there are other houses of worship spanning many different religions.

Notable people from Birmingham

* Tim Allen, actor (born in Colorado but raised in Birmingham)
* Shane Battier, basketball player with the Houston Rockets
* Mike Binder, director, screenwriter and actor
* Randal Bryant, dean, Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science
* Bruce Campbell, actor (attended Groves High School)
* Clarence Dayton Hillman, prominent Seattle businessman and land developer
* Virgil Exner, automobile designer
* Marshall Fredericks, sculptor
* Chris Hansen, Host of NBC's "To Catch a Predator"
* James Hughes, Lawyer
* Laura Innes, actor
* Christine Lahti, actress
* Alexi Lalas, Former pro soccer player and GM and President of the Los Angeles Galaxy
* Elmore Leonard, novelist
* Kurt Luedtke, screenwriter and winner of the Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award for "Out of Africa"
* Terry McDermott, speed skater and gold medal winner in the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck
* Gerald S. McGowan, US Ambassador to Portugal
* Meg Oliver, anchor of CBS's "Up to the Minute"
* Stone Phillips, Host of NBC's "Dateline"Fact|date=November 2007
* Sam Raimi, director (attended Groves High School)
* David Spade, actor and comedian
* Eero Saarinen, architect and product designer, studio moved from Bloomfield Hills to Birmingham
* Noel Stookey, better known as "Paul" of Peter, Paul and Mary
* James Tobin, author
* Rick Wagoner, CEO of General Motors
* Minoru Yamasaki, architect, studio located in Birmingham
* 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
* Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wing
* Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings left wing forward from Sweden
* Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tiger

External links

* [ City of Birmingham official site] City Hall Site
* [ City of Birmingham] Principal Shopping District (PSD) Website
* [ Brief history of Birmingham]
* [ Baldwin Public Library official site]
* [ The Oakland County]


*cite book |last=Avery |first=Lillian Drake |title=An Account of Oakland County |origyear=1925? |url= |accessdate=2007-10-21 |year=2005 |publisher=University of Michigan Library |location=Ann Arbor, Mich. |pages=pp. 33-35 |chapter=Birmingham |chapterurl=;cc=micounty;idno=ARX1007.0001.001;didno=ARX1007.0001.001;view=image;seq=00000033
*cite book |last=Durant |first=Samuel W. |title=History of Oakland County, Michigan |origyear=1877 |url= |accessdate=2007-10-21 |year=2005 |publisher=University of Michigan Library |location=Ann Arbor, Mich. |pages=pp. 318-328 |chapter=Bloomfield Township |chapterurl=;cc=micounty;idno=afk0725.0001.001;size=l;frm=frameset;seq=497;page=root;view=image
*cite book |last=Seeley |first=Thaddeus De Witt |title=History of Oakland County Michigan a narrative account of its historic progress, its people, its principal interests |origyear=1912 |url= |accessdate=2007-10-21 |year=2005 |publisher=University of Michigan Library |location=Ann Arbor, Mich.

Geographic Location
Center = Birmingham
North =

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