Oakland County, Michigan

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Oakland County, Michigan
Seal of Oakland County, Michigan
Map of Michigan highlighting Oakland County
Location in the state of Michigan
Map of the United States highlighting Michigan
Michigan's location in the U.S.
FoundedJanuary 12, 1819 (created)
1820 (organized)[1][2]
Largest cityTroy
 • Total907 sq mi (2,349 km2)
 • Land868 sq mi (2,248 km2)
 • Water40 sq mi (104 km2), 4.4%
Population (Est.)
 • (2013)1,231,640
 • Density1,386/sq mi (535/km²)
Congressional districts8th, 9th, 11th, 14th
Time zoneEastern: UTC-5/-4
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Oakland County, Michigan
Seal of Oakland County, Michigan
Map of Michigan highlighting Oakland County
Location in the state of Michigan
Map of the United States highlighting Michigan
Michigan's location in the U.S.
FoundedJanuary 12, 1819 (created)
1820 (organized)[1][2]
Largest cityTroy
 • Total907 sq mi (2,349 km2)
 • Land868 sq mi (2,248 km2)
 • Water40 sq mi (104 km2), 4.4%
Population (Est.)
 • (2013)1,231,640
 • Density1,386/sq mi (535/km²)
Congressional districts8th, 9th, 11th, 14th
Time zoneEastern: UTC-5/-4

Oakland County is a county located in the U.S. state of Michigan and located northwest of Detroit, in that city's metropolitan area. As of the 2010 census, its population was 1,202,362,[3] making it the second-most populous county in Michigan. The county seat is Pontiac.[4] The county was founded in 1819 and organized in 1820.[1][5]

Oakland County is composed of 61 cities, townships and villages, and is part of the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city of Detroit is located in neighboring Wayne County, south of 8 Mile Road. Oakland County is among the ten highest income counties in the United States with populations over one million people.[6] It is also home to Oakland University, a large public institution that straddles the Auburn Hills and Rochester Hills border.

The county's knowledge-based economic initiative, coined "Automation Alley", has developed one of the largest employment centers for engineering and related occupations in the United States. But Oakland County has shared in the recent economic hardships brought on by troubles at General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. It has fared better than Detroit and Flint, as its economy is more diverse and less reliant on manufacturing jobs. All three automotive companies are major employers within southeast Michigan and have a significant presence within Oakland County.


Founded by Territorial Governor Lewis Cass in 1819, sparsely settled Oakland was originally twice its current size. As was customary at the time, as populations increased, other counties were organized from its land area. Woodward Avenue and the Detroit and Pontiac Railroad helped draw settlers in the 1840s. By 1840, Oakland had more than fifty lumber mills, processing wood harvested from the region and the Upper Peninsula. Pontiac, located on the Clinton River, was Oakland's first town and became the county seat. After the Civil War, Oakland was still primarily a rural, agricultural county with numerous isolated villages. By the end of the 19th century, three rail lines served Pontiac, and the city attracted carriage and wagon factories. In the late 1890s streetcars were constructed here and to Detroit.

At that time, developers made southern Oakland County a suburb of Detroit; a Cincinnati firm platted a section of Royal Oak called "Urbanrest." Migration worked both ways. Several thousand people moved from Oakland County farms to Detroit as the city attracted factories. By 1910, a number of rich Detroiters had summer homes and some year-round residences in what became Bloomfield Hills. The auto age enveloped Pontiac in the early 1900s. The Oakland Motor Car Company was founded in 1907 and became a part of General Motors Corp., which was soon Pontiac's dominant firm.

In the 1950s, the Detroit metropolitan population began migrating to the suburbs, aided by the GI Bill for veterans and federal subsidies for highways and freeways. Oakland County is among the ten highest-income counties in the United States with more than one million population. The median price of a home in Oakland County increased to $164,697, more than $30,000 above the national median. Oakland County is home to popular super-regional shopping malls such as Somerset Collection, Twelve Oaks Mall, and Great Lakes Crossing Outlets.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 907 square miles (2,350 km2), of which 868 square miles (2,250 km2) is land and 40 square miles (100 km2) (4.4%) is water.[7]

Oakland County was originally divided into 25 separate townships, which are listed below. Each township is roughly equal in size at six miles (10 km) by six miles, for a total township area of 36 square miles (93 km2). The roots of this design were born out of the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the subsequent Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Oakland County itself is a prime example of the land policy that was established, as all townships are equal in size (save for slight variations due to waterways). Section 16 in each township was reserved for financing and maintaining public education, and even today many schools in Oakland County townships are located within that section.

Wayne County, where the city of Detroit is located, borders Oakland County to the south. 8 Mile Road, also known as "Baseline Road" in some areas, is the boundary between these counties. The baseline was used during the original surveying for Michigan, and it serves as the northern/southern boundaries for counties from Lake St. Clair to Lake Michigan. As more working and middle-class populations moved to the suburbs from the 1950s on, this divide (8 Mile Road) became historically known as an unofficial racial dividing line between what became the predominately black city and almost exclusively white suburbs.

Since the late 20th century, however, the patterns of de facto segregation have faded as the suburbs have become more diverse. Middle-class African Americans have left the city, settling in inner-ring suburbs, notably Southfield (75.08%), west of Woodward Avenue. Based on the 2010 Census, the following cities also have significant minority ethnic populations: Farmington (25.3%), Farmington Hills (31.7%), Novi (30.12%), Oak Park (62.61%), Lathrup Village (72.97%), Orchard Lake Village (16.08%), Rochester Hills (20.94%), Troy (29.4%), Wixom (26.28%), West Bloomfield (24.0%), Bloomfield (18.28%), Bloomfield Hills (14.2%), Ferndale (17.2%), and Madison Heights (17.7%). Ferndale has a concentration of Arab Americans, who also live in nearby areas, and numerous Asian Americans, particularly Indians, have also settled in these areas.

Adjacent counties[edit]


Historical population
Est. 20131,231,6402.4%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]
1790-1960[9] 1900-1990[10]
1990-2000[11] 2010-2013[3]

As of the 2010 Census, there were 1,202,362 people and 315,175 families residing in the county. 77.3% were White, 13.6% Black or African American, 5.6% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 1.0% of some other race and 2.2% of two or more races. 3.5% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race). 13.2% were of German, 8.3% Irish, 7.8% Polish, 7.0% English and 5.1% Italian ancestry.[12] There were 527,255 housing units at an average density of 564 per square mile (218/km²).[13]

Regarding ancestry, in 2000 14.4% of the population were ethnically German, 9.0% Irish, 8.5% English, 8.5% Polish, 5.7% Italian and 5.5% American, according to Census 2000. 87.4% spoke only English at home; 2.0% spoke Spanish, 1.3% Syriac (Neo Aramaic) and 1.0% Arabic. The population density as of the 2000 census was 1,369 people per square mile (528/km²). There were 492,006 housing units at an average density of 564 per square mile (218/km²).

The 2000 census showed two Native American tribes with more than 1,000 members in Oakland County. There were 2,095 Cherokee and 1,458 Chippewa.

The Jewish community of metropolitan Detroit, with a population of 72,000, is the 21st largest Jewish community in the nation. This community is concentrated in Oakland County, especially in West Bloomfield, Bloomfield Hills, Farmington Hills, Troy and Huntington Woods.[14]

There were 471,115 households, of which 32.40% had children under the age of 18 living with them. 54.20% were married couples living together, 9.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.10% were non-families. 27.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 3.09.

Among Asian Americans, eight ethnic groups had more than 1,000 members in the county in 2000. The most numerous were those of Asian Indian descent, with 20,705. Next were those of Chinese heritage, numbering 10,018. Next were those of Japanese (5,589), Filipino (5,450) Korean (5,351), Vietnamese (1,687), Pakistani (1,458) and Hmong (1,210) ancestry.[15]

In 2001, Oakland County had the 36th largest Asian population of any county in the country.[16] In 2002, of the Oakland-Wayne-Macomb tricounty area, Oakland County had 49% of the tricounty area's Asian population.[17]

The county's population was spread out in terms of age, with 25.20% of people under the age of 18, 7.20% from 18 to 24, 32.40% from 25 to 44, 23.90% from 45 to 64, and 11.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 95.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $61,907, and the median income for a family was $75,540 (these figures had risen to $62,308 and $79,589 respectively as of a 2009 estimate[18]). Males had a median income of $55,833 versus $35,890 for females. The per capita income for the county was $32,534. About 3.80% of families and 5.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.50% of those under age 18 and 6.50% of those age 65 or over.


The county government operates the jail, operates the major local courts, keeps files of deeds and mortgages, maintains vital records, administers public health regulations, and participates with the state in the provision of welfare and other social services. The county board of commissioners controls the budget but has limited authority to make laws or ordinances. In Michigan, most local government functions—police and fire, building and zoning, tax assessment, street maintenance, etc. — are the responsibility of individual cities and townships. Oakland County has an elected sheriff, and his or her law-enforcement services are used throughout the county. Fourteen cities/townships do not have municipal police forces, but rather contract with the sheriff for police services specific to the municipalities. For instance, the city of Rochester Hills does not have a "Rochester Hills Police Department," but instead has an established sheriff substation in the city with deputies who are dedicated to that city only. That branch operates as the Oakland County Sheriff's Department, Rochester Hills substation. The sheriff operates in the same manner with other municipalities who opt not to have their own police agencies. This typically is a cost-effective way for municipalities to provide police services to its citizens. The county sheriff also maintains a civil division, marine division, alcohol and traffic enforcement units, and an aviation division.

Elected officials[edit]

(information as of November 4, 2014)

Road Commission[edit]

Roads that are not maintained by a local community (city/village) are maintained by the independent Road Commission for Oakland County, which is governed by three board members appointed by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners. Road Commissioners: Eric. S. Wilson, Chairman; Gregory C. Jamian Vice Chairman; Ron Fowkes Dennis G. Kolar, Managing Director


Presidential Election Results 1960–2012
201253.40% 349,05545.37% 296,531
200856.42% 373,27041.94% 277,480
200449.75% 319,38749.32% 316,633
200049.31% 281,20148.10% 274,319
199647.84% 241,88443.48% 219,855
199238.64% 214,73343.57% 242,160
198837.78% 174,74561.27% 283,359
198432.76% 150,28666.71% 306,050
198035.58% 164,86954.65% 253,211
197639.47% 164,26658.69% 244,271
197234.16% 129,40063.78% 241,613
196844.76% 154,63045.31% 156,538
196461.44% 182,79738.33% 114,025
196045.39% 135,53154.27% 162,026

Oakland County historically was a stronghold of the Republican Party, a classic bastion of suburban conservatism for most of the 20th century. However, since the 1990s it has become more of a swing county and has voted for the Democratic candidate for President in the last five elections. Democrats also hold four of the six county-wide elective offices.

In 1996, Bill Clinton became the first Democrat to secure the plurality of Oakland County presidential votes since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Al Gore and John Kerry also carried the county, by narrow margins, against George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, respectively. In 2008, Barack Obama became the first Democrat to win a majority in the county since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. (See table at right.) He again carried the county in 2012, though by a smaller margin.

In 2006, Oakland County favored incumbent Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) by 10 percent margin while favoring Attorney General Mike Cox (R) by 16% and Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) by 21%. The Republican Party swept Oakland County's 2010 statewide elections favoring Governor Rick Snyder (R) by a 22-percent margin and nine-percent margins for both Attorney General Bill Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. Most countywide offices are held by Republicans, and Republicans have a majority on the county commission.

In the 111th Congress, Oakland County is represented by two Democrats, Gary Peters and Sander Levin, and two Republicans, Kerry Bentivolio and Mike Rogers. Peters was elected in 2008 to represent the 9th District, which covers almost two-thirds of the county. The 9th and its predecessors had been held by Republicans for 75 years before Peters' election.



The following airports are located in neighboring counties:

Major highways[edit]

Mile roads[edit]


The conditions on most non-residential roads in Oakland County are not favorable to bicycling. Exceptions to this are primarily in the inner-ring suburbs within the southeast corner of the county. This is due to their street grid.

A primary reason for these unfavorable cycling conditions is the Road Commission for Oakland County has a policy of not accommodating bicycles on the road. As a result, some communities have designated sidepaths (locally called "safety paths") as bike routes which do not meet the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) guidelines for bicycling facilities and have been found to be less safe than on-road bike facilities.[20]

As a result, there are no designated Bicycle Friendly Communities within Oakland County.

Only the city of Ferndale has a built comprehensive bicycle network of bike lanes and signed shared roadways.


The County of Oakland counterpart in public education (K-12) is the Oakland Schools, an Intermediate school district.

Higher education[edit]

Oakland County is home to several institutions of higher education.


Detroit PistonsNational Basketball AssociationThe Palace of Auburn Hills1958 (moved to the Palace in 1988)3
Detroit ShockWomen's National Basketball AssociationMoved to Oklahoma, October 200919983
Oakland County CruisersFL, BaseballDiamond at the Summit20090

The NFL's Detroit Lions played their home games at the Pontiac Silverdome from 1975 through 2001, when they moved to Ford Field in Downtown Detroit. The Silverdome was also the site of Super Bowl XVI, where the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, the first of 5 Super Bowl titles for the 49ers.

From 1978 through 1988 prior to their move to the Palace of Auburn Hills, the Pistons also played their home games at the Silverdome.

The Silverdome has also hosted various other sporting events since it opened.


The white areas represent unincorporated charter and civil townships. The gray areas represent incorporated cities and villages.




Unincorporated communities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Bibliography on Oakland County". Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University. Retrieved January 29, 2013. 
  2. ^ "History of Oakland County," OaklandWeb.com. Retrieved February 7, 2007.
  3. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 29, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011. 
  5. ^ History of Oakland County, Michigan. Philadelphia: L. H. Everts and Co. 1877. p. 23. Retrieved October 4, 2014. 
  6. ^ Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce - quick facts
  7. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  8. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  12. ^ "American FactFinder"
  13. ^ "Oakland County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  14. ^ http://detroitjcrc.org/community_relations/detroit.php?page=10080
  15. ^ See search results from United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 2, 2007.
  16. ^ Metzger, Kurt and Jason Booza. "Asians in the United States, Michigan and Metropolitan Detroit." Wayne State University Center for Urban Studies-January 2001 Working Paper Series, No. 7, p. 5. Retrieved on September 8, 2013.
  17. ^ Metzger, Kurt and Jason Booza. "Asians in the United States, Michigan and Metropolitan Detroit." Center for Urban Studies, Wayne State University. January 2002 Working Paper Series, No. 7. p. 7. Retrieved on November 6, 2013.
  18. ^ http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/ADPTable?_bm=y&-qr_name=ACS_2009_1YR_G00_DP3&-geo_id=05000US26125&-context=adp&-ds_name=&-tree_id=309&-_lang=en&-redoLog=false&-format=
  19. ^ Martindale, Mike (January 15, 2009). "New Oakland prosecutor 'going pretty hard'". The Detroit News. Retrieved March 1, 2009. 
  20. ^ "Risk of Sidewalk and Wrong-way Riding". Bicyclist Injuries: Learning from the Statistics. Archived from the original on May 20, 2007. Retrieved March 17, 2007. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°40′N 83°23′W / 42.66°N 83.38°W / 42.66; -83.38