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Birmingham History

Located in the north side of Metro Detroit in Michigan, Birmingham houses about 20,103 residents according to the 2010 census. It has a total population density of about 4,196.9 inhabitants per square mile which composes of 92.3% White, 3.0% African American, 0.1% Native American, 2.5% Asian, 0.4% from other races.

The land where Birmingham stands today used to be the land of Native American tribes. But with the Treaty of Detroit in 1807, they ceded the land to the United States government. Because of the War of 1812 and the unfavorable report of Edward Tiffin, the Surveyor-General, there was a delay in settlement. Tiffin’s report stated that “There would not be an acre out of a hundred, if there would be one out of a thousand that would, in any case, admit cultivation.”

The US government never thought that Birmingham could prosper, so they further delayed the placement of Military Bounty Lands for the veterans. It was not until 1818 when a Territorial Governor Lewis Cass thoroughly explored the land along the Indian Trail. Their party discovered that the swamp was not as bad as Tiffin supposed.  Soon after Cass reported a more encouraging thought about the land that expedited its suitability for settlement.

A year later, on January 28, 1819, Colonel Benjamin Kendrick Pierce first settled in Birmingham in the northwest quarter of section 36. He was the brother of the future US President Franklin Pierce and he visited the place several times but never settled on it.   Then John W. Hunter and his brother Daniel settled in Birmingham in spring 1819 because of miscalculations and mostly lacking a proper land survey. Their family left Auburn, New York by sleigh and traveled to Detroit Michigan. Without a proper land survey, Hunter mistakenly built his log house in Birmingham which was later bought by Elijah Willets.  

On September 25, 1821, Elijah Willets settled in the southwest quarter of section 25 followed by Major John Hamilton in the southeast quarter of section 25. The land where these lands meet is now known as the intersection of Maple Road and Pierce Street.

What do these three men have in common? For an era, all of them, John W. Hunter, Major Hamilton, and Elijah Willets ran hotels and taverns from their houses which were popular stopovers back then for people traveling or considering to settle in the area.

Hunter, threw in the towel sooner than the other two men and did not continue his businesses. But Hamilton and Willets continued their rivalry for many years. It was a very common term to use for traveling packs to call “Hamilton’s”, “Hunter’s”, or “Willets”, of the place where they staying. These houses and businesses were later known as “Piety Hill”.

Back then Birmingham received its mail through the “Bloomfield” post office but later had its own on April 5, 1838. In 1864, marks the year when Birmingham was incorporated as a village which composes of northern half and the southern half section. They had their first election on March 1, 1864, and was re-incorporated as a city in 1933.                                        

Court Houses


Address: 4280 Telegraph Rd, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302, USA


Address: 851 S Eton St, Birmingham, MI 48009, USA

Famous Attractions:

Cranbrook House and Gardens

Birmingham Country Club

Emagine Palladium

Mad Hatter Bistro

Cranbrook Academy of Art



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Sat: - 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM


1026 W. Eleven Mile
Royal Oak, MI 48067

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