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Hamtramck, Michigan
City of Hamtramck
Jos Campau at Norwalk - Hamtramck MI.JPG
Location in Wayne County and the state of Michigan
Location in Wayne County and the state of Michigan
Country United States
State Michigan
County Wayne
Organized (township) 1798
Incorporated (village) 1901
Incorporated (city) 1922
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Total 2.09 sq mi (5.41 km2)
 • Land 2.09 sq mi (5.41 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
623 ft (192 m)
 • Total 22,423
 • Estimate 
 • Density 10,728.7/sq mi (4,142.4/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 313
FIPS code 26-36280
GNIS feature ID 0627707
Hamtramck Fire Department

Hamtramck ( ham-TRAM-ik) is a city in Wayne County of the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 22,423. Hamtramck is surrounded by the city of Detroit except for a small portion of the western border that touches the similarly surrounded city of Highland Park.

Known in the 20th century as a vibrant center of Polish American life and culture, Hamtramck has continued to attract immigrants. In 2015 its city council became the first majority Muslim city council in the U.S.


Hamtramck is named for the French-Canadian soldier Jean François Hamtramck who was the first American commander of Fort Shelby, the fortification at Detroit. It was originally known as Hamtramck Township.


Hamtramck was originally settled by German farmers, but Polish immigrants flooded into the area when the Dodge Brothers plant opened in 1914. Poles used to make up a large proportion of the population. It is sometimes confused with Poletown, a traditional Polish neighborhood, which used to lie mostly in the city of Detroit and includes a small part of Hamtramck. As of the 2010 American Community Survey, 14.5% of Hamtramck's population is of Polish origin; in 1970, it was 90% Polish.

Over the past thirty years, a large number of immigrants from the Middle East (especially Yemen), South Asia (especially Bangladesh), and Southeastern Europe (especially Bosnia and Herzegovina) have moved to the city. As of the 2010 American Community Survey, the city's foreign born population stood at 41.1%, making it Michigan's most internationally diverse city (see more at Demographics below). The population was 43,355 in the 1950 Census, and 18,372 in 1990.

Hamtramck was primarily farmland, although the Detroit Stove Works employed 1,300 workers to manufacture stoves. In 1901, part of the township incorporated as a village to gain more control over the settlement's affairs, and by 1922 the village reincorporated as a city to fend off annexation attempts by the neighboring city of Detroit. By the mid-1920s, 78% of the residents of Hamtramck owned their own houses or were buying their houses. Around that time, the factory workers made up 85% of Hamtramck's heads of households. Of those factory workers, half were not skilled. In 1910, the newly founded Dodge Main assembly plant created jobs for thousands of workers and led to additional millions of dollars in the city. Dodge Main quickly expanded and became important to Hamtramck. Before the construction of Dodge Main, Hamtramck was a largely rural town. With the Dodge Main assembly plant also came a large Polish population. The influx of Polish immigrants pushed the incumbent German politicians. It was at this point that Hamtramck was considered a Polish-American town. Elections in November 2015 made the city the first to elect a Muslim-majority council in the country.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.09 square miles (5.41 km2), all land.

Hamtramck is mostly surrounded by Detroit except a small common border with the city of Highland Park, which is in turn surrounded by Detroit. Hamtramck lies about 5 miles (8.0 km) from the center of Detroit. The I-75 freeway roughly runs along this city's western border and I-94 runs near its southern border.


Hamtramck flourished from 1910 to 1920 as thousands of European immigrants, particularly Poles, were attracted by the growing automobile industry. The city has grown increasingly ethnically diverse but still bears many reminders of its Polish ancestry in family names, street names and businesses. A recent survey found 26 native languages spoken by Hamtramck schoolchildren. The city's motto was "A League of Nations". Neal Rubin of The Detroit News wrote in 2010 that despite the demographic changes, "In a lot of ways, Hamtramck still feels like a Polish enclave."

In 1987 Detroit television station WDIV ran one episode of a local sit-com called "Hamtramck" which featured former Detroit Tigers pitcher Dave Rozema and a cameo by manager Sparky Anderson. It was met by poor reviews and protests by many Polish-Americans and was canceled before airing a second episode.

At the time of the 2000 census, Hamtramck was again experiencing considerable growth, with over 8,000 households and a population of almost 23,000.

The 8,000-square-foot (740 m2) Hamtramck Historical Museum and the Polish Art Center are next door to one another.

In 1997, the Utne Reader named Hamtramck one of "the 15 hippest neighborhoods in the U.S. and Canada" in part for its punk and alternative music scene, its Buddhist temple, its cultural diversity, and its laid back blue-collar neighborhoods. And in May 2003, Maxim Blender selected Hamtramck as the second "Most Rock N' Roll City" in the U.S., behind Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York City. Hamtramck is home of several of Michigan's most distinguished music venues.

In January 2004, members of the Al-Islah Islamic Center requested permission to use loudspeakers for the purpose of broadcasting the Islamic call to prayer. This request set off a contentious debate in the city, about the noise that would be caused by the call to prayer, eventually garnering national attention. Ultimately, Hamtramck amended its noise ordinance in July 2004 regulating all religious sounds.

Hamtramck Disneyland, an art installation, is in the city.

Hamtramck festivals

Pączki Day

Polish immigrants and residents of Hamtramck and southeastern Michigan celebrate Tłusty Czwartek (Fat Thursday), known locally as Pączki Day] by lining up at the city's numerous Polish bakeries to purchase pączki. On Pączki Day, several local bars host parties with live entertainment and free pączki.

Hamtramck Music Festival

The "Hamtramck Music Festival" is an annual Independent music festival held in March in Hamtramck. It is currently sponsored by Bens Encore and the local Artist Community. In 2011, almost 200 bands played the Blowout at 14 venues over four days.

St. Florian Strawberry Festival

Held annually in the first weekend in May at grounds at St. Florian Church.

Hamtramck Labor Day Festival

Held Labor Day weekend, ending with the Polish Day Parade on Labor Day. Live music on two stages, carnival area, beer, and food tents line a half-mile (1 km) stretch of Joseph Campau Street, from Caniff to Carpenter.

Planet Ant Film & Video Festival in Hamtramck

Held at the Planet Ant Theater, the festival celebrates independent movies and the people who make them, featuring comedies, dramas, documentaries, animation and music videos.


2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 22,423 people, 7,063 households, and 4,615 families residing in the city. The population density was 10,728.7 inhabitants per square mile (4,142.4/km2). There were 8,693 housing units at an average density of 4,159.3 per square mile (1,605.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 53.6% White, 19.3% African American, 0.3% Native American, 21.5% Asian, 0.6% from other races, and 4.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.5% of the population.

There were 7,063 households of which 43.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.3% were married couples living together, 18.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 7.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 34.7% were non-families. 28.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.09 and the average family size was 3.98.

The median age in the city was 28.8 years. 31.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 12.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 27.9% were from 25 to 44; 20.7% were from 45 to 64; and 7.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 51.6% male and 48.4% female.

Ethnic groups

Historically Hamtramck received a lot of immigration from Eastern Europe. In the 20th century Hamtramck was mostly Polish. George Tysh of the Metro Times stated that "In the early days of the auto industry, Hamtramck’s population swelled with Poles, so much so that you were more likely to hear Polish spoken on Joseph Campau than any other tongue." Later waves of immigration brought Albanians, Bosnians, Macedonians, Ukrainians, and Yemenis. By 2001 many Bangladeshis, Bosnians, and Iraqi Chaldeans were moving to Hamtramck. As of 2011 almost one in five Hamtramck residents was Asian. As of 2003, over 30 languages are spoken in Hamtramck and more than four religions are present. The four principal religions are, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism.

In June, 2013, the city's Human Relations Commission facilitated the raising of flags of 18 countries from which Hamtramck residents emigrated. They are displayed on Joseph Campau Street, with an American flag flying at either end.

Bengali and Pakistani people

AsianMart HamtramckMI
Asian Mart (Bengali: এশিয়ান মার্ট), a Bengali food store

In the 1930s, the first group of Bengalis came to Detroit and Hamtramck. The first significant population of Bengalis began arriving in the late 1980s and the Bengalis became a large part of the city's population in the 1990s. The largest growth occurred in the 1990s and 2000s. By 2001 many Bangladeshi Americans had moved from New York City, particularly Astoria, Queens, to Hamtramck and the east side of Detroit. Many moved because of lower costs of living, larger amounts of space, work available in small factories, and the large Muslim community in Metro Detroit. Many Bangladeshi Americans who moved into Queens, and then onwards to Metro Detroit had origins in Sylhet.

In 2002, over 80% of the Bangladeshi population within Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties lived in Hamtramck and some surrounding neighborhoods in Detroit. That area overall had almost 1,500 ethnic Bangladeshis, almost 75% of Bangladeshis in the entire State of Michigan.

By 2002, a Bengali business district formed along Conant Avenue and some residents called it "Little Bengal". The district, along Caniff and Conant streets, included markets, stores, mosques, and bakeries owned by Bangladeshis, Indians, and Pakistanis. By 2008 the Bengali business district, between Davison and Harold Street, and partially within the city limits of Detroit, received the honorary title "Bangladesh Avenue" and was to be dedicated as such on November 8, 2008. Akikul H. Shamin, the president of the Bangladesh Association of Michigan, estimated that Bangladeshi people operate 80% of the buildings and businesses in the portion of Conant Avenue. As of February 2008 the city planned to erect signage reading "Bangladesh Town" in the business district.

In 2002, the estimate of Hamtramck inhabitants of origins from the Indian subcontinent was from 7,000 to 10,000. As of 2001, 900 registered students who spoke Bengali and Urdu attended Hamtramck Public Schools.

As of 2014, there are over 13 Bengali clothing shops in the city.

Yemeni people

YemeniMural HamtramckMI
Yemeni mural by Dasic Fernandez

As of 2006, most of the Middle Eastern population in Hamtramck is Yemeni. Hakim Almasmari wrote in 2006 that "Several streets seem to be populated exclusively by Yemeni Americans, and Yemeni culture pervades the city’s social, business, and political life." Many Yemeni restaurants are in Hamtramck, and the Yemeni community operates the Mu'ath bin Jabal Mosque (Arabic: مسجد معاذ بن جبل ), which was established in 1976. In 2005 the mosque, located just outside the south eastern border of Hamtramck, was the largest mosque out of the ten within a three-mile radius.

In 2013 Dasic Fernandez, a Chilean artist, created a 90-foot (27 m) by 30-foot (9.1 m) mural on the Sheeba restaurant celebrating the Yemeni population. The mural depicts a girl in a veil decorated with the blue sky, a farmer wearing a turban, and a woman in a hijab. The Arab American and Chaldean Council and the coalition OneHamtramck commissioned the mural.

Religious and political issues

In the 2000s a Bengali mosque named the Al-Islah Jamee Masjid wanted permission to broadcast the adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, from loudspeakers outside of the mosque and requested this permission from the city government. It was one of the newer mosques in Hamtramck. Sally Howell, author of "Competing for Muslims: New Strategies for Urban Renewal in Detroit", wrote that the request "brought to a head simmering Islamophobic sentiments" in Hamtramck. Muslims and interfaith activists supported the mosque. Some anti-Muslim activists, including some from other states including Kentucky and Ohio, participated in the controversy. Howell added that the controversy, through an "international media storm", gave "a cathartic test of the "freedoms" we were said to be "fighting for" in Afghanistan and Iraq" to the remainder of the United States. In 2004 the city council voted unanimously to allow mosques to broadcast the adhan on public streets, making it one of the few U.S. cities to allow this to occur. Some individuals had strongly objected to the allowing of the adhan, some continue to object. In 2015, some residents complained that they could hear the electronically amplified call to prayer inside their homes five times a day, with one of those daily times being at 6 A.M.


  • 1796: Colonel Jean François Hamtramck took possession of Detroit after British troops evacuated.
  • 1798: The Township of Hamtramck was established.
  • 1901: Hamtramck was established as a village.
  • 1908: Saint Florian Roman Catholic Church parish is the first Catholic church in Hamtramck.
  • 1910: Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company break ground for an automotive plant in Hamtramck; rapid influx of European immigrants begins.
  • 1914: Dodge Brothers plant begins operations.
  • 1922: Hamtramck is incorporated as a city to protect itself from annexation by Detroit; Peter C. Jezewski is the first mayor.
  • 1926: St. Florian's present edifice is built. It has a 1928 Austin Organ Opus #1528 that contains 3 Manuals and 40 ranks, which was newly refurbished in 2008.
  • 1959: Won Little League World Series of Baseball. Hamtramck was a hotbed of baseball activity at the time, and it is the only Michigan city to win that title.
  • 1996: In November, voters pass the Ordinance to Preserve Parkland in Hamtramck by a 64% vote, after a year-long campaign, marking the first time an ordinance was ever enacted in the City by a referendum vote of the population.
  • 2000: Hamtramck goes into Emergency Financial Status after running million dollar deficits and political in-fighting. Gov. Engler appoints Louis Schimmel as Emergency Financial Manager.
  • 2005: Hamtramck voters ratify a new City Charter
  • 2007: Hamtramck emerges from state-mandated Emergency Financial Status.
  • 2010: Hamtramck asked the state of Michigan permission to file for bankruptcy protection.
  • 2013: Hamtramck becomes the first Muslim-majority American city.
  • 2014: Hamtramck reenters emergency management under EM Cathy Square
  • 2015: Hamtramck Cathy Square exits with the state controlled Transitionary [sic?] Advisory Board left in place controlling Hamtramck.
  • 2015: Hamtramck becomes the first American city to elect a Muslim-majority city council.
  • 2015: Hamtramck Council begins to push back on state Transitionary [sic?] Advisory Board and state appointed city manager control due to perceived mismanagement.

In 1910 Hamtramck, then a village, had 3,559 residents. Between 1910 and 1920 Hamtramck's population grew by 1,266 percent. The growth of Hamtramck and neighboring Highland Park broke records for increases of population; both municipalities withstood annexation efforts from Detroit.

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