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Ferndale, Michigan: From Rural Village to Progressive Suburb

Downtown street in Ferndale mi covered in snow

August 6, 2019

Ferndale, Michigan: From Rural Village to Progressive Suburb

In 2018, Ferndale, Michigan, celebrated its 100th year as an official municipality. Its long history begins far from the diverse, inclusive city it is today. Learn how this small plot of land became one of the fastest-growing cities of the mid-20th century.

A Little Place Called Urbanrest

In 1890, the area of land at North 9 Mile Road and Hilton Road (what was then known as Campbell) was sold and subdivided. It was named Urbanrest, the moniker a nod to its reputation as a country retreat from big city Detroit life. Over the next 20 years, growth continued gradually, and Urbanrest saw the laying of plats, construction of schools and churches, the addition of a paved road, and the expansion of railways. In 1917, four men started the village charter commission.

The Village of Ferndale

In 1918, the area formerly known as Urbanrest was declared a village, and its housing boom began. Its proximity to Detroit made it a convenient location for blue-collar workers to live and raise families. Houses went up quickly thanks to the popularity of kit homes ordered from catalogs. Unfortunately, the village's unpaved roads and drainage issues made for muddy residential areas. However, the village's commitment to public transit made life with little or no access to an automobile possible; the trolley system into Detroit ran until the 1950s.

The City of Ferndale

In January of 1917, after several years of heavy growth, Ferndale citizens voted to make it a city. On March 7, 1927, it became official. The city of Ferndale prospered; even Ripley's recognized it as one of the fastest growing of its size in the United States. The Great Depression of the 1930s and the war efforts of the 1940s slowed the housing boom, but Ferndale continued to flourish after World War II.

Evolution Into the Ferndale of Today

In the 1960s, Ferndale began to shift into the progressive community that it is today. However, major changes didn't begin until the early 1990s. Crime had been ramping up in Detroit for years, pushing out much of its gay community. Finding it more appealing than the gentrification that was occurring in nearby Royal Oak, the LGBT community started looking for homes in the classic neighborhoods of Ferndale, which had begun revitalizing its downtown area by emphasizing the support of local small businesses instead of corporate efforts. Today, Ferndale is known for its diverse population, community involvement, and progressive policies. 

Interested in building in Ferndale? Let's get started! Robertson Homes has been building homes and communities in Metro Detroit for more than 70 years. To begin searching for your new home, complete our online form or call us today at (248) 657-4968. 

Photo courtesy of Stanthejeep of Wikimedia Commons.

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