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Royal Oak, Michigan
City of Royal Oak
Pictured top to bottom: Downtown Royal Oak, the National Shrine of the Little Flower, Royal Oak Post Office, the Royal Oak Amtrak Station, and the Detroit Zoo Water Tower
Official logo of Royal Oak, Michigan
Official Logo
Nickname(s): 
The City of Trees, Roak
Location within Oakland County
Location within Oakland County
Royal Oak, Michigan is located in Michigan
Royal Oak, Michigan
Royal Oak, Michigan
Location in Michigan
Country United States
State Michigan
County Oakland
Incorporated 1891 (village)
1921 (city)
Government
 • Type Council–manager
Area
 • City 11.79 sq mi (30.55 km2)
 • Land 11.79 sq mi (30.54 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
Elevation
663 ft (202 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • City 57,236
 • Estimate 
(2019)
59,277
 • Density 5,026.88/sq mi (1,940.86/km2)
 • Metro
4,296,250 (Metro Detroit)
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)
48067, 48068, 48073
48069 (Pleasant Ridge)
48071 (Madison Heights)
Area code(s) 248
FIPS code 26-70040
GNIS feature ID 636352

Royal Oak is a city in Oakland County in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 57,236.

The city is located along the Woodward Corridor, and Interstate 75 and Interstate 696 also pass through Royal Oak. As a northern suburb of Metro Detroit, the city is about 3 miles (4.8 km) north of the city of Detroit. Portions of the Detroit Zoo are within Royal Oak, extending into neighboring Huntington Woods.

History

ShrineoftheLittleFlowerRPC
Shrine of the Little Flower

Royal Oak was incorporated as a village, in 1891, and as a city in 1921. The name originated in 1819, during one of Territorial Governor Lewis Cass' surveying expeditions. A large oak tree located near the present-day intersection of Crooks, Rochester, and Main reminded Cass of the Royal Oak which King Charles II of England hid in to escape capture by the Roundheads after the Battle of Worcester.

In the 1920s, Father Charles Coughlin became the founding pastor of the Shrine of the Little Flower, a prominent landmark in the city. Through his ministry, he raised funds to build the present limestone Church complex and tower from which he aired his radio show.

Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, Royal Oak's downtown grew into an entertainment and nightlife destination. A number of large condominiums and lofts have been built in the area. The city also has a Farmers Market located at the corner of 11 Mile Road and Troy Street, adjacent to the 44th District Court. The Royal Oak Farmers Market opened as a truck market, at the corner of 4th and Troy streets, on October 14, 1925 as a cooperative venture between the then-new City of Royal Oak and Oakland County, Michigan. The present structure was erected in the spring of 1927 and dedicated July 1 of that year.

Culture

Polar tunnel Detroit Zoo
The Detroit Zoo's Arctic Ring of Life

Downtown Royal Oak features a wide assortment of nightlife venues, including the Royal Oak Music Theatre and the Landmark Main Art Theatre. Royal Oak is home to the Detroit Zoo, one of the region's leading tourist attractions. Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle, a comedy club, was an early venue for performers such as Tim Allen and Dave Coulier. The many restaurants range in fare from take-out sandwiches to high-end establishments specializing in cuisines like Italian, Belgian, Nepali, and others. Pubs include biker bars, dance clubs, upscale breweries, sports bars, and rooftop bars. During the summer, downtown Royal Oak becomes host to hordes of motorcycle enthusiasts from around Metro Detroit. On Wednesday nights Main Street is often lined with Harley-Davidsons, whereas on Thursday night the streets fill up with sport bikes.

Royal Oak encompasses a major span of the Woodward Dream Cruise. The city sponsors ancillary events around the Cruise.

The popular 1990s sitcom Home Improvement was set in Royal Oak. In 2008, three movies were filmed in Royal Oak. Scenes from Prayers for Bobby, Youth in Revolt and Gran Torino were filmed in the downtown area. In 2009, the remake of Red Dawn had several scenes filmed in Royal Oak neighborhoods.

In December 2009 it was announced that the Arts, Beats and Eats festival would be moved from Pontiac to Royal Oak.

In addition to The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, regional newspapers serving all of southeast Michigan, the city is served by the Daily Tribune, The Oakland Press, the Royal Oak Review, and The Mirror.

Royal Oak is also the setting for the popular Nickelodeon show, The Loud House. However, the town goes by the fictional name of "Royal Woods".

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.79 square miles (30.54 km2), all land.

Royal Oak once had a river, the Red Run. Vinsetta Boulevard was built skirting a source branch of the Red Run for its median, but in the 1930s, Vinsetta's entire median, along with the river and all but the top of the bridges for the crossing streets were filled in as part of a WPA project. During 1967–8, the rest of the river in Oakland County was buried in a six-foot drain pipe.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 217
1900 468
1910 1,071 128.8%
1920 6,007 460.9%
1930 22,904 281.3%
1940 25,087 9.5%
1950 46,898 86.9%
1960 80,612 71.9%
1970 86,238 7.0%
1980 70,893 −17.8%
1990 65,410 −7.7%
2000 60,062 −8.2%
2010 57,236 −4.7%
2019 (est.) 59,277 3.6%
Sources:

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 57,236 people, 28,063 households, and 13,394 families living in the city. The population density was 4,854.6 inhabitants per square mile (1,874.4/km2). There were 30,207 housing units at an average density of 2,562.1 per square mile (989.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.7% White, 4.3% African American, 0.3% Native American, 2.4% Asian American, 0.4% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.3% of the population.

There were 28,063 households, of which 20.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.7% were married couples living together, 8.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 52.3% were non-families. 41.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.03 and the average family size was 2.82.

The median age in the city was 37.8 years. 16.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 35.9% were from 25 to 44; 26.8% were from 45 to 64; and 13.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.0% male and 51.0% female.

Transportation

Numbered highways

Royal Oak train platform
Royal Oak train platform
  • I-75 runs north–south along the city's east side.
  • I-696 runs east–west along the city's south side.
  • M-1 (formerly designated US 10 and also known as Woodward Avenue) runs generally southeast–northwest along the city's west side.
  • Five numbered east–west mile roads run through Royal Oak.

Rail and bus

  • Amtrak provides service to Royal Oak, operating its Wolverine three times daily in both directions between Pontiac and Chicago via Detroit.
  • Class one freight rail service is provided by Canadian National Railway (CN).
  • Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) operates local and regional bus transit.

Historical

  • Commuter rail service, provided by Grand Trunk Western Railroad (GTW) and later Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority (SEMTA) from Pontiac to downtown Detroit, with two stops in Royal Oak, ran until October 17, 1983.
  • The Saginaw Trail was a footpath established by the Sauk tribe between Detroit and Saginaw. In Royal Oak present-day Main Street and Crooks Road were developed along the historic path.

Economy

Royal Oak developed initially as a suburb after Detroit boomed as a major industrial city. The predominantly white residents of Detroit began to move to the suburbs for newer housing, and to separate themselves from a burgeoning African American population, in a process referred to as white flight. It had a compact, traditional street-side shopping district, which runs along Main Street and Washington Avenue downtown. During the 2000s, this area was redeveloped with numerous new businesses, and is now considered a trendy, upscale, urban-chic district, featuring restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. A number of mixed-use high-rise developments have been constructed — mostly condo "lofts" with retail and office space on the lower levels.

Points of interest include the Detroit Zoo, a major regional tourist attraction, the William Beaumont Hospital, the Royal Oak Music Theatre, the Main Art Theatre, the Baldwin Theatre, Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle, Emagine Theater, and shops, cafes, and restaurants. The main offices of Hour Detroit media, which publishes Metro Detroit's lifestyle magazine, are located in the city.

The National Arbor Day Foundation has awarded Royal Oak the distinction of "Tree City USA" every year since 1976 as a result of the city's commitment to tree planting and preservation.

The Gilda Radner Hereditary Cancer Program is a foundation set up by Detroit-area native Gilda Radner, who is known for her work as a comedian of Saturday Night Live. In 1998 the Program created a free cancer support community for people with cancer, their families, and friends. Gilda's Club Metro Detroit operates a three-story non-residential house in Royal Oak. It has served more than 3,000 members for social and emotional support through a variety of activities.

Major employers in Royal Oak include William Beaumont Hospital with 7,147 employees, The City of Royal Oak with 465 employees, Royal Oak Public Schools with 482 employees, Oakland Community College with 448 employees, Consumers Energy with 351 employees, Flex-N-Gate with 350 employees, the Detroit Zoo with 301 employees, Holiday Market with 300 employees, and HHI- Form Tech with 290 employees.

Education

The city is served by Royal Oak Neighborhood Schools. There is also a private high school, Shrine Catholic. A branch of Oakland Community College is located in the city.

A portion of land in the city is zoned to Berkley Public Schools.

In recent years Royal Oak has begun to consolidate its public schools in response to a decline in enrollment levels compared to the baby boom era. In 2006, the city's two public high schools, George A. Dondero High School and Clarence M. Kimball High School, were combined into a new Royal Oak High School. Beginning in 2007, the city's two middle schools were combined into one school, Royal Oak Middle School, in the former Dondero building. The number of elementary schools was reduced to six. Some parents protested the planned closure and demolition of Longfellow and Whittier elementary schools. They were seeking to have them considered for historic district recognition by way of signed petition. Despite their efforts, both schools and a number of other former elementary schools were demolished in the fall of 2007.

The Royal Oak school system gained brief notoriety for an incident following the Trump election. Some middle schoolers chanted "build that wall". A student video of the incident was widely shared on Facebook, attracting more than 4 million views within 24 hours. A week later a noose was found in the 8th grade boys bathroom at the middle school. The student who had placed the noose in the bathroom was removed from the school shortly afterward.

St. Dennis School of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit was formerly in Royal Oak. It closed in 2011.

Notable people

  • Alexandra Aldridge, figure skater, was born in Royal Oak
  • Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of General Motors Company, was born in Royal Oak
  • Bruce Campbell, film and television actor, was born in Royal Oak
  • Meryl Davis, figure skater, winner of gold medal at 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, silver medalist in 2010
  • Pete Dawkins, winner of college football's 1958 Heisman Trophy, military officer, and political candidate, was born in Royal Oak
  • Marie Donigan, landscape architect and former member of the Michigan House of Representatives
  • Terry Duerod, University of Detroit and NBA basketball player, was born in Royal Oak
  • Mona Hanna-Attisha, pediatrician and Flint Water Crisis whistleblower, was raised in Royal Oak
  • Kirk Ferentz, football head coach for University of Iowa, was born in Royal Oak
  • Dean Fertita, rock musician
  • Bill Freehan, Major League Baseball catcher who was an 11x MLB All Star, 5x gold glove winner, and 1968 World Series champion. Spent all of his 15 seasons playing with the Detroit Tigers, grew up in Royal Oak.
  • Glenn Frey, founding member of rock group the Eagles, was raised in Royal Oak and attended Dondero High School
  • Christopher George, actor, star of films and TV series The Rat Patrol, was born in Royal Oak
  • Jason Grilli, Major League Baseball pitcher, was born in Royal Oak
  • Judith Guest, author of Ordinary People, lived and attended school in Royal Oak
  • David Hahn—the "Radioactive Boy Scout" was born in Royal Oak.
  • Tom Hayden, was born in Royal Oak and attended Dondero High School. He is best known as an author of the Port Huron Statement, and he stood for trial in the Chicago Seven case. He was at one time married to Jane Fonda.
  • Keegan-Michael Key, film and television actor, attended Shrine Catholic High School in Royal Oak
  • Torey Krug, NHL defenseman, was born in Royal Oak
  • T. J. Lang, pro football player for Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, was born in Royal Oak
  • Sam Raimi, film director, producer, writer, actor, was born in Royal Oak
  • Ivan Raimi, physician and screenwriter, was born in Royal Oak
  • Kim Rancourt, Rock Musician
  • Elisabeth Robinson, author of The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters
  • Sebastian Sauve, Fashion model
  • Andrew Dost American musician, singer and is member of the indie rock band Fun.
  • Chris Savino, animator, creator of the Nickelodeon animated series The Loud House.
  • Frank Dennis Saylor IV, judge , was born in Royal Oak
  • Jim Seymour, wide receiver for Notre Dame and Chicago Bears, attended Shrine Catholic High School in Royal Oak
  • Brady Smith, NFL defensive end 1996–2005, was born in Royal Oak
  • Marshall Thompson, actor, star of films and television, died in Royal Oak
  • Al Watrous, golf professional
  • Charlie White, ice dancer, winner of gold medal at 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, silver medalist in 2010

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