Highland Park, Michigan

Highland Park, Michigan
City of Highland Park
—  City  —
Location in Wayne County and the state of Michigan
Coordinates: 42°24′13″N 83°6′6″W / 42.40361°N 83.10167°W / 42.40361; -83.10167Coordinates: 42°24′13″N 83°6′6″W / 42.40361°N 83.10167°W / 42.40361; -83.10167
Country United States
State Michigan
County Wayne
Incorporated (village) 1889
Incorporated (city) 1918
 – Type Council-Mayor
 – Mayor Hubert Yopp
 – Total 2.9 sq mi (7.5 km2)
 – Land 2.9 sq mi (7.5 km2)
 – Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 636 ft (194 m)
Population (2010)[1]
 – Total 11,776
 – Density 4,066.6/sq mi (1,570.1/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 – Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 48203
Area code(s) 313
FIPS code 26-38180[2]
GNIS feature ID 0628251[3]
Website http://www.highlandparkcity.us/

Highland Park is a city in Wayne County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 11,776 at the 2010 census.[1] The city is completely surrounded by Detroit except for a small portion that touches the city of Hamtramck, which is also surrounded by Detroit.



The area that was to become Highland Park began as a small farming community, on a large ridge located at what is now Woodward Avenue and Highland, 6 miles (10 km) north of Detroit. In 1818, prominent Detroit judge Augustus B. Woodward bought the ridge, and platted the village of Woodwardville in 1825. The development of the village failed. Another Detroit judge, Benjamin F. H. Witherell, son of Michigan Supreme Court justice James Witherell, attempted to found a village platted as Cassandra on this site in 1836, but this plan also failed.[4]

By 1860, the settlement was given a post office under the name of Whitewood. After a succession of closures and reopenings of the rural post office, the settlement was finally incorporated as a village within Greenfield Township and Hamtramck Township under the name of Highland Park in 1889.[5]

In 1907, Henry Ford purchased 160 acres just north of Manchester Street between Woodward Avenue and Oakland Street to building an automobile plant. Construction of the Highland Park Ford Plant was completed in 1909, and the area's population dramatically increased just a few years later in 1913, when Henry Ford opened the first assembly line at the plant. The village of Highland Park was incorporated as a city in 1918 [6] to protect its tax base, including its successful Ford plant, from Detroit's expanding boundaries.

In 1910 Highland Park, then a village, had 4,120 residents. Between 1910 and 1920 Highland Park's population grew to about 46,500, an increase of 1,081 percent. The growth of Highland Park and neighboring Hamtramck broke records for increases of population; both municipalities withstood annexation efforts from Detroit.[7] In 1925, Chrysler Corporation was founded in Highland Park. It purchased the Brush-Maxwell plant in the city, which would eventually grow to a size of 150 acres, and become the site of the company's headquarters for the next 70 years.[4]

In 1944, the Davison Freeway, one of the USA's first modern limited access urban expressways (freeway),[dubious ] was opened, running through the center of the city. The freeway was completely reconstructed and widened to improve its safety in 1996 and 1997.[8]

Ford Motor Company wound down operations at its Highland Park plant in the late 1950s, and in the late decades of the 20th century the city experienced many of the same difficulties as Detroit - declines in population and tax base accompanied by an increase in street crime. White flight from the city accelerated after the 1967 Detroit 12th Street Riot. Ford's last operation at the factory, the production of tractors at its Model T plant, was discontinued in 1973, and a year later the entire property was sold to a private developer for general industrial usage.[4] The city became heavily black and impoverished by the 1980s. Chrysler, the last major private sector employer in the city, moved its corporate headquarters from Highland Park to Auburn Hills between 1991 and 1993, paying the city a total of $44 million in compensation.[4]. The move dislocated a total of 6,000 jobs over this period.[4]

Once known as "The City of Trees," the town was thickly forested until the 1970s, when Dutch elm disease caused many old trees to be cut down.

In June 2001, because of the Highland Park's mounting fiscal crisis, an emergency financial manager for the city was appointed under the supervision of the State of Michigan. In April 2009, state officials fired Arthur Blackwell as Highland Park's emergency financial manager for over-payments that Blackwell received, and appointed Rob Mason as the new emergency financial manager.[9] Upon the completion of his term in July 2009, the city was returned to local control.[10]

In August, 2011, over two-thirds of the streetlights in Highland Park were removed by the city, due to an inability to pay a $60,000 per month electric bill.[11]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1900 427
1910 4,120 864.9%
1920 46,499 1,028.6%
1930 52,959 13.9%
1940 50,810 −4.1%
1950 46,393 −8.7%
1960 38,063 −18.0%
1970 35,444 −6.9%
1980 27,909 −21.3%
1990 20,121 −27.9%
2000 16,746 −16.8%
2010 11,176 −33.3%


Craftsman-style house in Highland Park

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.9 square miles (7.5 km2), all land.


As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 16,746 people, 6,199 households, and 3,521 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,622.9 per square mile (2,169.7/km²). There were 7,249 housing units at an average density of 2,434.1 per square mile (939.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 93.44% African American, 4.11% White, 0.27% Native American, 0.24% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.25% from other races, and 1.67% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.57% of the population.

There were 6,199 households out of which 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 17.0% were married couples living together, 33.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.2% were non-families. 38.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.43.

In the city the population was spread out with 29.1% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 27.5% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 85.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $17,737, and the median income for a family was $26,484. Males had a median income of $31,014 versus $26,186 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,121. About 32.1% of families and 38.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 47.1% of those under age 18 and 30.8% of those age 65 or over.

Government and infrastructure

Highland Park is governed under the council-mayor form of government wherein an elected mayor is the chief executive and administrative officer of the city, and the council its legislative body. The mayor appoints city officers such as the city clerk, attorney, treasurer, and finance director, though, the council has the power to refuse or accept the appointments. The city council consists of five members elected at large who serve terms of four years. The highest vote getter becomes council president for that term.[12]

However, using the Public Act 72 of 1990, Governor John Engler appointed a emergency financial manager to take over the financial operations of the city in December 2000, effectively relegating the mayor, city council, and other elected public officers to advisory roles. Ramona Henderson-Pearson was appointed the city's first emergency financial manager.[13] In December 2001, the city police department was formally disbanded, at which time the Wayne County Sheriff Department took over policing the city.[14] The Highland Park Police Department was re-established on July 1, 2007.[15] The city was returned to local control in July 2009 by Robert Mason, the city's last emergency financial manager.[10]

The US Postal Service operates the Highland Park Post Office at 13215 Woodward Avenue.[16]


Chrysler was headquartered in Highland Park.[17] In 1992 the company announced that it was going to move its headquarters to its technology center in Auburn Hills, located approximately 25 miles (40 km) north of the original headquarters site.[18] The company planned to accomplish the move by 1995. In 1992 Chrysler had 25% of Highland Park's tax base and contributed 50% of the city's budget.[19]

In 2009 Magna International announced plans to start an automotive seat production operation in the former Chrysler headquarters.[20] The plant on the site of the former Chrysler headquarters opened in June 2010.[21]

The gear-reduction starter Chrysler used from the early 1960s through the late 1980s garnered the nickname "Highland Park Hummingbird" after Chrysler's hometown and the starter's distinctive cranking sound.

Despite Chrysler's departure, the city remains associated with Chrysler in the minds of auto enthusiasts.[citation needed]


Primary and secondary schools

McGregor Library in Highland Park was once the city's public library.

Highland Park is served by Highland Park Schools, which includes two elementary schools, Highland Park Community High School, and an online adult education program.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit operated St. Benedict Elementary School in Highland Park. It closed in 2005.[22]

Colleges and universities

Highland Park Community College was located in Highland Park before its 1996 closing.[23] It had previously been known as Highland Park Junior College.[citation needed]

Public library

In 1918 Katherine and Tracy McGregor, wealthy individuals, deeded the property of a facility for "homeless, crippled, and backward children."[24] The McGregor Public Library opened on that site in 1924.[25] The library closed in 2002. Around 2007 the city began efforts to re-open the library.[26]

Parks and recreation

The Ernest T. Ford Recreation Center serves as a recreation center for the community. The center has a basketball court, exercise equipment, pool tables, table games, and televisions. After a renovation, it re-opened in February 2008.[27] In 1993 Highland Park Community College won the MCCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Championship against Macomb Community College.

In film

  • The 2008 movie Gran Torino, starring and directed by Clint Eastwood, is primarily set in Highland Park.
  • 122 Beresford Street in Highland Park served as the filming location for a scene in the 2002 film 8 Mile where several of the movie's characters burn down an abandoned home.
  • A movie about a fictional lottery winner's attempt to reopen the McGregor Library, entitled Highland Park, starring Danny Glover, was being filmed in Highland Park in October 2009.[28]
  • The 2007 documentary The Water Front chronicled the community's struggle against water privatization.[29]


  1. ^ a b United States Census Bureau. "Highland Park city, Michigan". Population Finder. http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/SAFFPopulation?_event=Search&_name=highland+park&_state=04000US26&Submit.x=9&Submit.y=6&_county=highland+park&_cityTown=highland+park&_zip=&_sse=on&_lang=en&pctxt=fph. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Highland Park, Michigan
  4. ^ a b c d e Highland Park 2011 Master Plan, accessed 20 October, 2011
  5. ^ InfoMI.com, accessed April 18, 2007
  6. ^ City of Highland Park Official History
  7. ^ "Detroit Suburbs Ahead in Census." The New York Times. May 16, 1920. Retrieved on April 11, 2009.
  8. ^ MichiganFreeways.org, accessed April 18, 2007
  9. ^ "State ousts Blackwell as Highland Park manager." The Detroit News. April 18, 2009. Retrieved on April 29, 2009.
  10. ^ a b Highland Park Returned to Local Control, Michigan Department of Treasury Press Release, July 17, 2009
  11. ^ Associated Press. "Unable to pay $4 million electric bill, Michigan city turns off and removes many streetlights". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/unable-to-pay-4-million-electric-bill-michigan-city-turns-off-and-removes-many-streetlights/2011/11/03/gIQARqeCjM_story.html. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  12. ^ The Charter of the City of Highland Park (1968)
  13. ^ "State Will Manage Highland Park's Finances". WDIV-TV. 2000-12-06. http://html.clickondetroit.com/det/news/stories/news-20001206-140225.html. Retrieved 2010-01-11. 
  14. ^ Smooth Transition Expected in Highland Park, Michigan Department of Treasury Press Release, December 14, 2001
  15. ^ "Police Department." City of Highland Park. Retrieved on July 13, 2009.
  16. ^ "Post Office Location - HIGHLAND PARK." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on April 17, 2009.
  17. ^ Directory of American Research and Technology. Volume 24. Bowker, 1990. 101. Retrieved from Google Books on June 17, 2010. ISBN 0835227022, 9780835227025. "CHRYSLER CORPORATION, 12800 Chrysler Dr, Highland Park, MI 48288-1 1 18."
  18. ^ "COMPANY NEWS; Chrysler to Move Its Headquarters - New York Times". query.nytimes.com. September 9, 1992. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/09/09/business/company-news-chrysler-to-move-its-headquarters.html?n=Top/News/Business/Companies/Chrysler%20LLC&scp=3&sq=Chrysler%20%22Auburn%20Hills%22%20headquarters&st=cse. Retrieved 2009-02-22. 
  19. ^ Brown, Warren. "Chrysler Moving Headquarters To Suburb of Detroit by 1995." The Washington Post. September 9, 1992. Financial F01. Retrieved on June 17, 2010.
  20. ^ "Magna plans to open operation in former Chrysler headquarters in Highland Park, bringing 400 jobs." MLive.com and Associated Press. Tuesday July 21, 2009. Retrieved on August 18, 2009.
  21. ^ Hulett, Sarah. "French Parts Supplier Gives New Hope to Highland Park." WUOM. Retrieved on June 17, 2010.
  22. ^ "15 Catholic Schools To Close In Metro Detroit." Click on Detroit. March 17, 2005. Retrieved on October 7, 2011.
  23. ^ "Highland Park Community College." Higher Learning Commission. Retrieved on March 30, 2009.
  24. ^ "McGregors gave land for library." The Detroit News. November 3, 1999. Retrieved on July 13, 2009.
  25. ^ Trent, Kim. "Effort to restore Highland Park library gains strength." Michigan Chronicle. March 21, 2000. Retrieved on July 13, 2009.
  26. ^ "McGregor Library." Crain's Detroit Business. July 13, 2007. Retrieved on July 13, 2009.
  27. ^ "Ernest T. Ford Recreation Center." City of Highland Park. Retrieved on June 17, 2010.
  28. ^ Blumenstein, Lynn. "Film chronicles fictional rebirth of closed Highland Park library." Library Journal. October 8, 2009. Retrieved on November 4, 2011.
  29. ^ http://www.waterfrontmovie.com/

External links

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