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Hamtramck, Michigan
City of Hamtramck

Coordinates: 42°23′52″N 83°3′26″W / 42.39778°N 83.05722°W / 42.39778; -83.05722Coordinates: 42°23′52″N 83°3′26″W / 42.39778°N 83.05722°W / 42.39778; -83.05722

Country United States
State Michigan
County Wayne
Organized (township) 1798
Incorporated (village) 1901
Incorporated (city) 1922
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Mayor Karen Majewski
 • Emergency Manager Cathy Square
 • City Manager Kathy Angerer (acting)
 • Total 2.09 sq mi (5.41 km2)
 • Land 2.09 sq mi (5.41 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 623 ft (192 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 22,423
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 22,101
 • Density 10,728.7/sq mi (4,142.4/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
ZIP codes 48211–48212
Area code(s) 313
FIPS code 26-36280[4]
GNIS feature ID 0627707[5]

Hamtramck (/hæmˈtræmɨk/ ) 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. Hamtramck is named for the French-Canadian soldier Jean François Hamtramck who was the first American commander of Fort Shelby, the fortification at Detroit.

Hamtramck was originally settled by German farmers, but Polish immigrants flooded into the area when the Dodge Brothers plant opened in 1914.[6] 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;[7] in 1970, it was 90% Polish.[8]

Over the past thirty years, a large number of immigrants from the Middle East (especially Yemen) and South Asia (especially Bangladesh) have moved to the city. As of the 2010 American Community Survey, the city's foreign born population stood at 41.1%,[9] 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.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.09 square miles (5.41 km2), all of it land.[1]

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.[6] A recent survey found 26 native languages spoken by Hamtramck schoolchildren. The city's motto was "A League of Nations".

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.[10]

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.

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.[11] 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.[12] Ultimately, Hamtramck amended its noise ordinance in July 2004 regulating all religious sounds.[13]

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

Hamtramck festivals

Pączki Day

Polish immigrants, residents of Hamtramck, and southeastern Michigan celebrate Fat Tuesday (known locally as Pączki Day[14]]) by lining up at the city's numerous Polish bakeries to purchase pączki. On Pączki Day, several local bars host parties with live entertainment, some starting as early as 7 A.M.[15]

Hamtramck Blowout

The "Hamtramck Blowout" is an annual Indie music festival held in March in Hamtramck. It is currently sponsored by the Metro Times.[16] Similar festivals are held in Austin, Texas (Sxsw) and Milwaukee, WI (Summerfest). In 2011 almost 200 bands played the Blowout at 14 venues over four days.[17]

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.[18]

Planet Ant Film & Video Festival in Hamtramck

Held at the


General Motors' Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly plant, one of the automaker's premiere facilities, produces the Chevrolet Volt, the Cadillac DTS, and the Buick Lucerne.[20]

Detroit Axle maintains a plant there. However, in April, 2009, American Axle & Manufacturing announced that it planned to close it plant at the Hamtramck/Detroit border and move production to Mexico, resulting in the elimination of several hundred jobs.

The Polish Art Center, at 9539 Joseph Campau Street, is a local institution in Hamtramck. There, one can find many Polish art objects, books, foods, and art from other areas of Europe. The center's selection of Communist-era Polish theatrical and operatic posters is unusual.[21]

The Ukrainian American Archives & Museum of Detroit is located at 11756 Charest Street. The Museum's purpose is “to educate and inform the general public about the culture, art, and history of Ukrainians, their immigration to the United States and the contributions of Americans of Ukrainian descent to America; to engage in research in these areas; to maintain archives for the deposit of documents and other records relating to these topics; to acquire, preserve, exhibit artifacts of artistic, historical, and scientific value relating to these subjects; to sponsor public programs in order to study and preserve the heritage of Ukrainian Americans.”[22]

For more than 85 years, Kowalski Sausage Co. manufactured meat products at 2270 Holbrook Street, which are distributed in the metropolitan Detroit area.[23]

Notwithstanding the statement in the credits that it was filmed "in Detroit, Michigan", the 1998 Indie film Polish Wedding was filmed mainly in Hamtramck, and particularly at a house on Wyandotte Street.[24] Theresa Connelly, who wrote and directed the film, had spent her childhood in Hamtramck.


2010 census

As of the census[2] 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.

2000 census

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 22,976 people, 8,033 households, and 4,851 families residing in the city. The population density was 10,900.5 per square mile (4,208.7 /km2), making it the most densely populated city in Michigan.[25] There were 8,894 housing units at an average density of 4,219.6 per square mile (1,629.2 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 60.96% white (which includes people of Middle Eastern ancestry), 15.12% African American, 0.43% Native American, 10.37% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 1.14% from other races, and 11.89% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.31% of the population.

In the 2000 census, major ancestry groups reported by Hamtramck residents were as follows:

Historical population
Census Pop.

3.1% of Hamtramck's population reported Albanian ancestry. This made it the second most Albanian place in the United States by percentage of the population, second only to Fairview, North Carolina.[26]

There were 8,033 households out of which 33.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.3% were married couples living together, 16.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.6% were non-families. 32.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.74 and the average family size was 3.59.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.8% under the age of 18, 10.8% 18 through 24, 31.9% 25 through 44, 17.7% 45 through 64, and 11.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 110.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 109.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,616, and the median income for a family was $30,496. Males had a median income of $29,368 versus $22,346 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,691. About 24.1% of families and 27.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36.9% of those under age 18 and 18.1% of those age 65 or over.

From the 1990 Census to the 2000 Census the city's population increased by 25%. Sally Howell, author of "Competing for Muslims: New Strategies for Urban Renewal in Detroit", wrote that this was "overwhelmingly" due to immigration from majority Muslim countries.[27]

Ethnic groups

Historically Hamtramck received a lot of immigration from Eastern Europe. In the 20th century Hamtramck was mostly Polish.[28] 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."[29] Later waves of immigration brought Albanians, Bosnians, Macedonians, Ukrainians, and Yemenis.[29] By 2001 many Bangladeshis, Bosnians, and Iraqi Chaldeans were moving to Hamtramck.[28] As of 2011 almost one in five Hamtramck residents was Asian.[30] As of 2003, over 30 languages are spoken in Hamtramck and four religions, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Islam, are present in the city.[31]

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.[32]

Bengali people

The Bengalis began arriving in the late 1980s and the Bengalis became a large part of the city's population in the 1990s.[29] By 2001 many Bangladeshi Americans had moved from New York City, particularly Astoria, Queens, to the 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.[28]

By 2002 a Bengali business district formed along Conant Avenue and some residents called it "Little Bengal".[29] 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.[33] As of February 2008 the city planned to erect signage reading "Bangladesh Town" in the business district.[34]

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.[29]

Yemeni people

As of 2006, most of the Middle Eastern population in Hamtramck is Yemeni. Hakim Almasmari of the Yemen Observer 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."[35] Many Yemeni restaurants are in Hamtramck, and the Yemeni community operates the Mu'ath bin Jabal Mosque.[35]

The mosque, on the outskirts of the city, was the only one in the city limits in 1990. By 2005 it was the largest mosque out of the ten within a three mile radius. Sally Howell, author of "Competing for Muslims: New Strategies for Urban Renewal in Detroit", wrote that the mosque "has been credited" by public officials and area Muslims "with having turned around one of Detroit's roughest neighborhoods at the height of the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s, making its streets safe, revitalizing a dormant housing market, attracting new business to the area, and laying the foundation for an ethnically mixed, highly visible Muslim population in Detroit and Hamtramck."[36]

According to Almasmari, some of the first Yemenis to have arrived in Hamtramck said that Yemeni people first arrived in Hamtramck in the 1960s.[35]


Hamtramck is governed under a council-manager form of government in which the elected mayor of the city is the chief executive officer. The city council consists of six seats. Though part of the council, the mayor is elected separately, and votes only in the case of a tie and on ordinances and contracts. The city council hires a city manager, who becomes the city's chief administrative officer. The city manager has the vested powers and responsibility to appoint and remove all city employees and department heads, prepare the city's budget, and other city functions.[37]

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.[36] Muslims and interfaith activists supported the mosque. Some anti-Muslim activists, including some from other states including Kentucky and Ohio, participated in the controversy.[36] 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.[36] 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.[38]

In December 2010, citing general budget woes and the city of Detroit withholding a portion of shared revenue for the Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly plant straddling the border of both cities, Hamtramck requested of the State of Michigan to be allowed to declare bankruptcy which was denied.[39] Receivership was avoided when a deal was struck between the city and Detroit which required Detroit to pay $3.2 million in collected taxes to Hamtramck in exchange for Hamtramck paying Detroit nearly the same amount for a water and sewage bill that was in arrears.[40]

The United States Postal Service operates the Hamtramck Post Office at 2933 Caniff Street.[41] The post office annex is located at 14600 Dequindre Street in the City of Detroit.[42]

The Wayne County Jail Division operates The William Dickerson Detention Facility in Hamtramck.[43]


Public schools

Hamtramck is served by Hamtramck Public Schools.[44] Hamtramck High School is the public high school of Hamtramck. In addition Hanley International Academy, Frontier International Academy,[45] Hamtramck Academy, Bridge Academy, Caniff Liberty Academy[46] and Oakland International Academy[47] are all charter schools, in Hamtramck.[48]

Private schools

Hamtramck was historically a Polish Catholic community, so it housed Catholic schools. One of the buildings once used by Hanley charter school was previously St. Florian Elementary School, a Catholic school of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit.[48] The city also housed St. Florian High School, a Catholic high school which opened in 1940 and was located in another wing of the same building.[49] St. Stanislaus Elementary School was also located in Hamtramck.[50]

In 1992 Dickinson West Elementary School opened in the former St. Stanislaus building.[50] In the fall of 2002, St. Florian High and Bishop Gallagher High School in Harper Woods merged to form Trinity Catholic High School in Harper Woods. At that point St. Florian Elementary remained open.[49] In 2005 the archdiocese announced that St. Florian Elementary would close. After St. Florian Elementary's closing, no Catholic schools are located within the city limits of Hamtramck. During the same year, the archdiocese announced that Trinity High School would close.[51]

Public libraries

Hamtramck Public Library Albert J. Zak Memorial is located at 2360 Caniff.[52] The Tau Beta Association founded the library in November 1918. The library opened at its second location, the second floor of a professional building, on November 14, 1938. In 1951 the City Hall branch opened in the first floor of the municipal building; it was dedicated on January 22, 1952. The current library received its groundbreaking ceremony on July 5, 1955. It was completed on May 31, 1956 and dedicated on July 1, 1956.[53]


  • 1796: Colonel Jean Francois Hamtramck took possession of Detroit after British troops evacuated.
  • 1798: The Township of Hamtramck was established.[6]
  • 1901: Hamtramck was established as a village.[6]
  • 1908: Saint Florian Roman Catholic Church parish is the first Catholic church in Hamtramck.[54]
  • 1910: Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company break ground for an automotive plant in Hamtramck; rapid influx of European immigrants begins.[6]
  • 1914: Dodge Brothers plant begins operations.[55]
  • 1922: Hamtramck is incorporated as a city to protect itself from annexation by Detroit; Peter C. Jezewski is the first mayor.[6]
  • 1926: St. Florian's present edifice is built.[54] It has a 1928 Austin Organ Opus #1528 that contains 3 Manuals and 40 ranks,[56] which was newly refurbished in 2008.[57]
  • 1959: Won Little League World Series of Baseball.[58] Hamtramck was a hotbed of baseball activity at the time, and it is the only Michigan city to win that title.[58]
  • 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.[59]
  • 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.[60]
  • 2005: Hamtramck voters ratify a new City Charter[61]
  • 2007: Hamtramck emerges from state-mandated Emergency Financial Status.
  • 2010: Hamtramck asked the state of Michigan permission to file for bankruptcy protection.

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.[62]

Notable residents

See also


  • Howell, Sally. "Competing for Muslims: New Strategies for Urban Renewal in Detroit". Located in: Shryock, Andrew (editor). Islamophobia/Islamophilia: Beyond the Politics of Enemy and Friend. Indiana University Press, June 30, 2010. ISBN 0253004543, 9780253004543.


Further reading

  • Open Library.
  • Kowalski, Greg, Hamtramck: The Driven City (Arcadia Publishing) 160 pages. ISBN 0-7385-2380-1; ISBN 978-0-7385-2380-4.
  • Serafino, Frank, (1983) West of Warsaw. Avenue Publishing Co. ISBN 978-0-910977-00-5 ISBN 0-910977-00-3.
  • Open Library.
  • Wodka, Joseph. Some Correlates of Political Stability in a Polish-Language Voting Precinct in the Detroit Metropolitan Area; 1959 thesis.
  • United States Department of Justice
  • Davey, Monica. "The New York Times. December 27, 2010.
  • "Archive) CBS Detroit July 19, 2013.
  • Walker, Marlon A. "Detroit Free Press. September 9, 2013.

External links

  • City of Hamtramck
  • Hamtramck Chamber of Commerce
  • DMOZ
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