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Oak Park, Michigan

Oak Park is a city in Oakland County of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is a suburb of Detroit. As of the 2000 census, its population is 29,793. The Census Bureau's 2007 population estimate places the population at 30,960.

History

The township around Oak Park began to be settled in 1822, with the area that was to become Oak Park first settled in 1840. The first major housing development came in 1914 and was called the Oak Park subdivision. An election to approve incorporation as a village was held on May 3, 1927. An election to approve incorporation as a city was held on October 29, 1945.

Planned developments in the late 1950s resulted in Oak Park being named "America's Fastest Growing City" at one point. Major civic improvements in this period included the addition of an outdoor swimming pool and an ice rink in Major Park (now known as Shepherd Park, after former mayor David Shepherd, but long known informally as Oak Park Park).

Oak Park is home to six of the steel and ceramic houses built by the Lustron company in the early 1950s, which provided an inexpensive type of shelter for servicemen returning from World War II. They can be found on Oneida St., just north of Nine Mile Road.

Oak Park grew into a quiet city of one-story houses, sidewalks, trees, and backyards. For many years it has had the feeling of a small town, even though it lies in the heart of the Metro Detroit area, bordering the city of Detroit and several of its larger suburbs.

Oak Park is known for being very clean and quiet. Residents tend to maintain a high level of pride for their homes. The City of Oak Park recently remodeled the downtown area with expensive brick walls, landscaping and decorative sidewalk lights, in addition to a brand new digital marquee sign.

In both 2002 and 2004, the city annexed portions of neighboring Royal Oak Charter Township.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.0 square miles (13.0 km²). None of it is covered by water.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 29,793 people, 11,104 households, and 7,595 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,932.0 persons per square mile (2,291.5/km²). There were 11,370 housing units at an average density of 2,263.9 per square mile (874.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 46.95% White, 45.95% African American, 0.17% Native American, 2.18% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.60% from other races, and 4.13% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.28% of the population.

The population of Oak Park was once predominately Jewish and still has a large number of Orthodox Jewish families. Many are Haredi. The community and its surrounding areas has many synagogues and a number of yeshivas . It also has a small Russian-American population.

There were 11,104 households out of which 34.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.0% were married couples living together, 19.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.6% were non-families. 26.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.68 and the average family size was 3.29.

In the city the population was spread out with 28.2% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 88.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $48,697, and the median income for a family was $54,786. Males had a median income of $40,922 versus $35,968 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,677.

Notable residents

  • Dan and Tracee Miller from the group Blanche.
  • Dr. Robert Ettinger, known as the father of cryonic human preservation, lived in Oak Park for decades and was rumored to have deceased clients stored in his home, awaiting their cures and re-animation.
  • Al Kaline, Detroit Tiger baseball legend and Hall of Fame member lived on Morton Street between Sunset and Albany in the late 1950s.
  • Norm Cash, another Tiger Baseball legend from the same era, lived a couple of blocks from his teammate, on Sloman Street between Jerome and Saratoga.
  • David Weiss (a.k.a. David Was) and Don Fagenson (a.k.a. Don Was) from the group Was (Not Was) grew up together in Oak Park.
  • Jeffrey Sachs, famous economist formerly at Harvard University and currently at Columbia University is a graduate of Oak Park High School.
  • Rock Group Free Element's guitar player Randy Roberts, and Drummer Jake Bayer both hail from Oak Park.
  • Attorney Geoffrey Fieger who represented Jack Kevorkian grew up in Oak Park and graduated from Oak Park High School in 1969.
  • Geoffrey's younger brother Doug Fieger was the lead singer of the group The Knack.
  • Author and editor Ron Suresha attended grade school in Oak Park and was graduated from OPHS.
  • Mort Meisner, noted Detroit media guru, lived on Sunset Street.
  • Bob Black, who grew up in Oak Park and lived on Kipling Street, graduating from Oak Park High School, is a prominent theorist of the international anarchist movement, and the author of the widely disseminated essay "The Abolition of Work."
  • Adolph Mongo,Controversial Political and media consultant, who's clients includes Geoffrey Fieger(1998 Gubernatorial race) Kym Worthy (Wayne County prosecutor)and Kwame Kilpatrick. Graduated from Oak Park High school in 1972

Education

Oak Park's educational history began with the Clinton School, a one-room schoolhouse on property donated by Barney Clinton in the early 1900s. As the population grew fast, Clinton School grew and more elementary schools were built.

Clinton School was made a Junior High School and another was built in the mid 1960s, then named for the great poet Robert Frost. At that time, there was only one school in Oak Park with a "special education" department for children with learning disabilities: Lessenger Elementary School on Albany St. at Sunset St. Consequently, many families with such special children gravitated to the neighborhood surrounding Lessenger, creating a "cluster" of such families rarely found elsewhere. Those who grew up around Lessenger School universally report a natural respect for people of all circumstances.

Educational achievement was the long consistent pattern in Oak Park. Over 85% of Oak Park High School graduates continued their education immediately after high school, whether in college, or in trade or vocational schools. The school system was renowned statewide for decades in large part due to the efforts of often wildly progressive and dedicated teachers.

On May 6, 2008 Residents voted to extend the bond debt of $24,000,000. This bond will take care of numerous upgrades in the district such as, New technology with computers, wireless access points,classroom projectors. This will also include redoing all plumbing throughout the entire district with other upgrades as well. "Transition from a good school district to a great school district". Is the districts new ego.

References

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