Royal Oak, Michigan

For the charter township, see Royal Oak Charter Township, Michigan.
Royal Oak
City of Royal Oak

Pictured left to right: Downtown Royal Oak, the National Shrine of the Little Flower church, the Rackham Memorial Fountain at the Detroit Zoo, and the Woodward Dream Cruise.

Location in Oakland County and in the state of Michigan
Coordinates: 42°29′20″N 83°8′34″W / 42.48889°N 83.14278°W / 42.48889; -83.14278
Country United States
State Michigan
County Oakland
Incorporated 1895 (village)
  1921 (city)
  Type Commission-Manager
  Mayor Jim Ellison
  City Manager Don Johnson
  City 11.79 sq mi (30.54 km2)
  Land 11.79 sq mi (30.54 km2)
  Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation[2] 663 ft (202 m)
Population (2010)[3]
  City 57,236
  Estimate (2013[4]) 58,946
  Density 4,854.6/sq mi (1,874.4/km2)
  Metro 4,285,832 (US: 13th)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
  Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 48067, 48068, 48073
Area code(s) 248
FIPS code 26-70040
GNIS feature ID 0636352[5]

Royal Oak is a city in Oakland County of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is a suburb of Detroit. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 57,236.[6] It is the 8th-largest municipality in Oakland County and the 27th largest municipality in Michigan by population.


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.[7]

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.[8]


Further information: Tourism in metropolitan Detroit
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.[9]

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".


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.79 square miles (30.54 km2), all land.[1]

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[10] 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.[11]


Further information: Economy of metropolitan Detroit

Royal Oak's traditional street-side shopping district runs along Main Street and Washington Avenue downtown. It experienced growth and development in the 2000s, with a transformation to a trendy upscale, urban-chic restaurant, shopping, and entertainment district. A number of mixed-use high-rise developments have arisen — 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.[12]

In 1998, Gilda Radner Hereditary Cancer Program, the foundation of Saturday Night Live comedian and Detroit-area native Gilda Radner, 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 and has served more than 3,000 members for social and emotional support and fun activities.[13]

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.


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 enrollment levels that are lower than those of 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. The number of elementary schools was reduced to six.[14] Some parents protested the planned closure and demolition of Longfellow and Whittier elementary schools and were seeking to have them considered for historic district recognition by way of signed petition.[9] 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 a racist incident following the Trump election, wherein white middle schoolers taunted their Latino classmates and chanted "build that wall". A student video of the incident was widely shared on Facebook, reaching over 4 million views within 24 hours. [15]


The U.S. post office in Royal Oak

Royal Oak has a Council-Manager form of government.[16] It is governed by a city commission consisting of a mayor and six commission members. The city commission appoints a city manager, who manages the day-to-day operations of the city.

Royal Oak has a below average crime rate, reflecting that of nearby communities, such as Berkley and Madison Heights. Larceny-Theft was the most common crime, making up 66.7% of all crimes in the city. Five known murders have been committed since 2000, one in 2004, one in 2005, one in 2010, and two in 2011.[17] In 1991, Thomas McIlvane killed five people in Royal Oak's post office, after being fired from the Postal Service for "insubordination."[18] This incident helped to popularize the term " Going Postal."

Royal Oak's police department has 76 sworn officers and 17 civilian personnel in the department. The department employs community policing techniques.

Royal Oak has a fire department that operates out of three stations strategically located around the city to minimize response time to incidents. The ROFD operates two ladder trucks, four ALS ambulances, and six engines, along with a technical response trailer, a haz-mat trailer, and utility vehicles.[19]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201559,008[20]3.1%

2010 census

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 57,236 people, 28,063 households, and 13,394 families residing 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, 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.

2000 census

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 60,062 people, 28,880 households, and 14,440 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,083.0 people per square mile (1,961.9/km²). There were 29,942 housing units at an average density of 2,534.0 per square mile (978.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.80% White, 1.54% African American, 0.26% Native American, 1.56% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.38% from other races, and 1.40% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.30% of the population.

There were 28,880 households out of which 20.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.9% were married couples living together, 7.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 50.0% were non-families. 40.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.06 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the city the population was spread out with 17.8% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 38.8% from 25 to 44, 21.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 95.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $52,252, and the median income for a family was $68,109. Males had a median income of $50,562 versus $36,392 for females. The per capita income for the city was $30,990. About 2.0% of families and 4.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.4% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.


Numbered Highways

Rail and bus

Royal Oak train platform


Notable people

Further information: List of people from Detroit

See also


  1. 1 2 "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  2. U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: elevation
  3. 1 2 3 "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-11-25.
  4. "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
  5. U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Royal Oak, Michigan
  6. "Race, Hispanic or Latino, Age, and Housing Occupancy: 2010 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File (QT-PL), Royal Oak city, Michigan". U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder 2. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  7. "Father Charles E. Coughlin, The Radio Priest". Detroit News: Michigan History. 1995-07-23.
  8. "Farmers Market | City of Royal Oak". Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  9. 1 2 "Detroit Free Press - Home". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  10. " - Bridge Not Found". Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  11. Penney, David G. Ph.D. (2001-11-28). "A Run Ran Through It: Red Run, The Ghost River of Royal Oak". CO Headquarters. Retrieved 2008-11-25.
  12. "Tree City USA Directory - The Arbor Day Foundation". Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  13. "Gilda's Club Detroit | Royal Oak, MI". Gilda's Club. Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  14. "Consolidation Information | Royal Oak Schools". Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  15. "Royal Oak Middle School students chant 'Build the wall'". Detroit News. Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  16. Government Overview, City of Royal Oak. Accessed 2008-05-02
  17. "Royal Oak Profile | Royal Oak MI | Population, Crime, Map". Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  18. Levin, Doron P. (November 15, 1991). "Ex-Postal Worker Kills 3 and Wounds 6 in Michigan". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-26.
  19. "Fire Department | City of Royal Oak". Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  20. "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  21. U.S. Decennial Census
  23. Staff. "History of our Building". Chisholm & Shuttie. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  24. 1 2 Longman, Jeré (2014-02-17). "Meryl Davis and Charlie White Give U.S. First Olympic Gold in Ice Dancing". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  25. "Trinity University 404". Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  26. Fox, James (January 10, 2004). "My sister's strength drove me on". The Telegraph.
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Coordinates: 42°29′20″N 83°8′34″W / 42.48889°N 83.14278°W / 42.48889; -83.14278 (Royal Oak, Michigan)

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