Oakland County, Michigan

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Oakland County
County of Oakland
Pontiac Commercial Historic District
Official seal of Oakland County
Map of Michigan highlighting Oakland County
Location within the U.S. state of Michigan
Map of the United States highlighting Michigan
Michigan's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 42°40′N 83°23′W / 42.66°N 83.38°W / 42.66; -83.38
Country United States
State Michigan
FoundedJanuary 12, 1819 (created)
1820 (organized)[1][2]
Largest cityTroy
 • Total907 sq mi (2,350 km2)
 • Land868 sq mi (2,250 km2)
 • Water40 sq mi (100 km2)  4.4%
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,386/sq mi (535/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts8th, 9th, 11th, 14th

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

Oakland County is composed of 62 cities, townships, and villages, and is part of the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city of Detroit is 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, and some major employers include General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, collectively known as the Big Three.


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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] Oakland County is among the ten highest-income counties in the United States with more than one million population.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

On March 10, 2020, Michigan reported the first 2 coronavirus cases, one of which was in Oakland County.


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 predominantly 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


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20181,259,201[8]4.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[9]
1790-1960[10] 1900-1990[11]
1990-2000[12] 2010-2018[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). 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, 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 tri-county 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 $86,567, making Oakland County the 21st wealthiest county in the United States: ( Males had a median income of $55,833 versus $35,890 for females. The per capita income for the county was $65,759. 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

(information as of August 4, 2019)

Road Commission

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

Oakland County Service Center

The East Campus of the Oakland County Service Center is located in Pontiac. It includes the county courthouse and jail for adults.[20]

The West Campus of the Oakland County Service Center is located in Waterford Township.[20][21] This includes the Oakland County Executive Building and Conference Center,[22] and the Oakland County Children's Village,[20] the county's juvenile detention center for children.[23] The Children's Village acts as one of the support sites for the Waterford School District.[24]


Oakland County was historically a classic bastion of suburban conservatism, and was hence a longstanding stronghold of the Republican Party. However, since the 1990s it has become more competitive and has voted for the Democratic candidate for President in the last six elections.

In 1996, Bill Clinton became the first Democrat to secure the plurality of Oakland County presidential votes since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and only the fourth to do so since 1892. 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.

While the Democratic Party has found increasing success in Presidential elections in Oakland County, the state Republican Party has remained strong in recent gubernatorial and state elections. The county favored Governor Rick Snyder (R) by a 22-percent margin in the 2010 statewide elections and again by a 12-point margin in 2014. While Republicans held a majority on the County Commission for most of its history, following the 2018 elections, there are 11 Democrats and 10 Republicans.[25]

In the 116th Congress, Oakland County is represented by four Democrats, Brenda Lawrence (14th), Andy Levin (9th), Haley Stevens (11th) and Elissa Slotkin (8th). Slotkin and Stevens were first elected in 2018, flipping Republican-held seats.

Presidential election results
Presidential election results[26]
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2016 43.2% 289,203 51.3% 343,070 5.5% 36,652
2012 45.4% 296,514 53.4% 349,002 1.2% 8,055
2008 41.9% 276,956 56.4% 372,566 1.7% 10,873
2004 49.3% 316,633 49.8% 319,387 0.9% 5,957
2000 48.1% 274,319 49.3% 281,201 2.6% 14,745
1996 43.5% 219,855 47.8% 241,884 8.7% 43,903
1992 43.6% 242,160 38.6% 214,733 17.8% 98,867
1988 61.3% 283,359 37.8% 174,745 1.0% 4,384
1984 66.7% 306,050 32.8% 150,286 0.5% 2,464
1980 54.7% 253,211 35.6% 164,869 9.8% 45,248
1976 58.7% 244,271 39.5% 164,266 1.8% 7,668
1972 63.8% 241,613 34.2% 129,400 2.1% 7,838
1968 45.3% 156,538 44.8% 154,630 9.9% 34,290
1964 38.3% 114,025 61.4% 182,797 0.2% 686
1960 54.3% 162,026 45.4% 135,531 0.3% 1,005
1956 60.4% 152,990 39.4% 99,901 0.2% 527
1952 60.7% 115,503 38.8% 73,871 0.4% 805
1948 53.5% 62,516 44.1% 51,491 2.5% 2,859
1944 51.5% 59,627 47.7% 55,272 0.8% 914
1940 50.7% 49,002 48.7% 47,022 0.6% 599
1936 40.6% 30,071 54.5% 40,329 4.9% 3,597
1932 47.8% 32,462 48.8% 33,135 3.4% 2,331
1928 81.5% 45,343 18.0% 10,011 0.5% 264
1924 81.3% 28,603 11.7% 4,105 7.1% 2,488
1920 71.0% 19,321 23.6% 6,421 5.4% 1,478
1916 51.9% 7,730 44.7% 6,659 3.5% 517
1912 35.5% 4,083 31.9% 3,668 32.7% 3,762
1908 58.2% 6,267 36.7% 3,950 5.1% 554
1904 61.9% 6,986 35.0% 3,956 3.1% 347
1900 53.0% 6,173 42.7% 4,966 4.3% 499
1896 46.0% 5,846 41.5% 5,271 12.5% 1,588
1892 45.0% 4,763 46.5% 4,925 8.5% 902
1888 47.3% 5,389 47.5% 5,410 5.2% 591
1884 45.0% 4,842 50.1% 5,386 4.9% 525



The following airports are located in neighboring counties:

Major highways

  • I-75 (Walter P. Chrysler Freeway) is the main north-south highway in the region, serving Flint, Pontiac, Troy, and Detroit, before continuing south (as the Fisher and Detroit-Toledo Freeways) to serve many of the communities along the shore of Lake Erie.
  • I-96 runs northwest-southeast through Oakland County and (as the Jeffries Freeway) has its eastern terminus in downtown Detroit.
  • I-275 runs north-south from I-75 in the south to the junction of I-96 and I-696 in the north, providing a bypass through the western suburbs of Detroit.
  • I-696 (Walter P. Reuther Freeway) runs east-west from the junction of I-96 and I-275, providing a route through the northern suburbs of Detroit. Taken together, I-275 and I-696 form a semicircle around Detroit.
  • US 24 ends just outside of Clarkston at I-75. To the south, US 24 serves suburban Detroit and Monroe before entering Ohio. Much of US 24 in Oakland County is named Telegraph Road, and it is a major north-south road extending from Toledo, Ohio, through Monroe, Wayne, and Oakland Counties to Pontiac. It gained notoriety in a song (Telegraph Road) by the group Dire Straits.
  • M-1 (Woodward Avenue) has a northern terminus in Pontiac. The route continues southerly from Oakland County into the City of Detroit, ending downtown. The Detroit Zoo is located along M-1 in Oakland County. M-1 is also home to the Woodward Dream Cruise, a classic-car cruise from Pontiac to Ferndale that is held in August. It is the largest single-day classic-car cruise in America.
  • M-5
  • M-10 (John C. Lodge Freeway) runs largely parallel to I-75 from Southfield to downtown Detroit. The service drives are named Northwestern Highway.
  • M-15 (Ortonville Road, Main Street in Clarkston)
  • M-24 (Lapeer Road) has a southern terminus at I-75 northeast of Pontiac. To the north, the route continues to Lapeer and beyond. Note: M-24 and US 24 do not intersect at present, although this was the case until the 1950s.
  • M-39 (Southfield Freeway) runs north-south from I-94 in Allen Park to Southfield. North of Nine Mile Road, the freeway ends and continues as Southfield Road into Birmingham.
  • M-59 (Highland Road [from Pontiac westerly], Huron Street [within Pontiac] and Veterans Memorial Freeway [Pontiac to Utica]), continues east in Macomb County as Hall Road to Clinton Township and west to I-96 near Howell
  • M-102 Perhaps better known as 8 Mile Road, M-102 follows the Oakland–Wayne county line for most of its length. 8 Mile Road, known by many due to the film 8 Mile, forms the dividing line between Detroit on the south and the suburbs of Macomb and Oakland counties on the north. It is also known as Baseline Road outside of Detroit, because it coincides with the baseline used in surveying Michigan; that baseline is also the boundary for a number of Michigan counties. It is designated M-102 for much of its length in Wayne County.
  • M-150 (Rochester Road) serves as a spur highway from M-59 into the city of Rochester.
  • Grand River Avenue connects the suburbs of Brighton, Novi, and Farmington to downtown Detroit. The avenue follows the route of old US 16 before I-96 replaced it in 1962. It is one of the five roads planned by Judge August Woodward to radiate out from Detroit and connect the city to other parts of the state.


Amtrak's Wolverine serves Oakland County with 3 daily trains each way, stopping in Pontiac, Troy, Royal Oak, and continuing on to Chicago.

Mile roads

  • Surface-street navigation in metro Detroit is commonly anchored by "mile roads," major east-west surface streets that are spaced at one-mile (1.6 km) intervals and increment as one travels north and away from the city center. Mile roads sometimes have two names, the numeric name (e.g., 15 Mile Road), used in Macomb County, and a local name (e.g., Maple Road), used in Oakland County (for the most part).


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.[27]

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

Oakland County is home to several institutions of higher education.


Club League Venue Established Championships
Oakland County FC Premier League of America, Soccer Clawson Park Stadium 2015

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 1988 to 2017, prior to the move to Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, the Detroit Pistons played their home games at The Palace of Auburn Hills and from 1978 to 1988, they played at the Pontiac Silverdome.

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


U.S. Census data map showing local municipal boundaries within Oakland County. Shaded areas represent incorporated cities.



Charter townships

Civil townships

Unincorporated communities


Quarton Lake also known as The Old Mill Pond.


There are five rivers in Oakland County:[28]

Clinton River

Flint River

Huron River

Rouge River

Shiawassee River

The headwaters of each of these rivers lie in Oakland County.


1.^ While Coulter was appointed acting County Executive, he has not yet been elected.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Bibliography on Oakland County". Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  2. ^ "History of Oakland County," Archived July 5, 2006, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved February 7, 2007.
  3. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved August 29, 2013.
  4. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  5. ^ History of Oakland County, Michigan. Philadelphia: L. H. Everts and Co. 1877. p. 23. Archived from the original on November 20, 2015. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  6. ^ "Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce - quick facts". Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  7. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Archived from the original on November 13, 2013. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  8. ^ "QuickFacts". Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  9. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  10. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Archived from the original on August 11, 2012. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  11. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 15, 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  12. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved September 27, 2014.
  13. ^ "Oakland County QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau". Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ See search results Archived June 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine from United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 2, 2007.
  16. ^ Metzger, Kurt and Jason Booza. "Asians in the United States, Michigan and Metropolitan Detroit Archived November 9, 2013, at the Wayback Machine." 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 Archived November 9, 2013, at the Wayback Machine." Center for Urban Studies, Wayne State University. January 2002 Working Paper Series, No. 7. p. 7. Retrieved on November 6, 2013.
  18. ^ Laitner, Bill. "L. Brooks Patterson's successor as Oakland County executive". Detroit Free Press.
  19. ^ Martindale, Mike (January 15, 2009). "New Oakland prosecutor 'going pretty hard'". The Detroit News. Retrieved March 1, 2009.
  20. ^ a b c "Complex Map" (Archived 2015-07-10 at the Wayback Machine). Oakland County Government. Retrieved on July 9, 2015.
  21. ^ "Generic Base Map 2014" (Archived 2015-01-13 at the Wayback Machine). Waterford Township. Retrieved on July 10, 2015.
  22. ^ "Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center Locator Map & Directions" (Archived 2015-07-10 at the Wayback Machine). Oakland County Government. Retrieved on July 10, 2015.
  23. ^ "Oakland County Children's Village" (Archived 2015-07-10 at the Wayback Machine). The Government of Oakland County. Retrieved on July 9, 2015. "Oakland County Children's Village 1200 North Telegraph Road Pontiac, MI 48341"
  24. ^ "District Map" ( Archived September 4, 2015, at the Wayback Machine). Waterford School District. Retrieved on July 9, 2015.
  25. ^ Cavitt, Mark (November 7, 2018). "Oakland County Board of Commissioners majority Democratic for third time in history". The Oakland Press. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  26. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Archived from the original on March 23, 2018. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  27. ^ "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.
  28. ^ "Oakland County, Michigan". Archived from the original on July 22, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2016.

Further reading

External links

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

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