Hamtramck turns 100, celebrations planned

click to enlarge A mural celebrating Hamtramck's Yemeni culture. - M Canzi, Flickr Creative Commons
M Canzi, Flickr Creative Commons
A mural celebrating Hamtramck's Yemeni culture.

The small but mighty city of Hamtramck is turning the big 100 this year.

According to the Friends of Historical Hamtramck, a nonprofit that runs the Hamtramck Historical Museum, celebrations are planned throughout the year, including a parade, a birthday party, and a project that will collect stories from residents.

First established as a township in what was then primarily farmland, Hamtramck was incorporated as a city in 1922 to protect itself from becoming annexed by the rapidly expanding Detroit. It's now a 2.1-square-mile enclave surrounded on all sides by the Motor City.

At one point, the city's residents were nearly entirely of Polish descent, but over the years it has seen an influx of immigrants from places like Yemen and Bangladesh. It's one of Michigan's fastest-growing cities, with the 28,433 people recorded in the 2020 Census representing a 27% increase from a decade before. Now, Polish people represent fewer than 20% of the population.

It's still known as the epicenter of Polish-inspired Paczki Day festivities, but restaurants like Yemen Café have joined Polish Village Cafe as regional destination spots. By 2015, its city council became the first Muslim-majority council in the U.S.

"We have such an incredibly dynamic city in Hamtramck, and I'm proud of our history as a city of immigrants," Hamtramck Historical Museum director Greg Kowalski said in a statement. "We are really looking forward to showing off our unique city this year to anyone who wants to learn about us. The Hamtramck Historical Museum is an important steward of the city’s cultural character."

The Friends of Historical Hamtramck is also launching a fundraiser to raise $50,000 for structural repairs to the Hamtramck Historical Museum, including elevator repair, floor refinishing, and an updated façade.

The Hamtramck Historical Museum is located at 9525 Jos Campau.

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About The Author

Lee DeVito

Leyland "Lee" DeVito grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, where he read Metro Times religiously due to teenaged-induced boredom. He became a contributing writer for Metro Times in 2009, and Editor in Chief in 2016. In addition to writing, he also supplies occasional illustrations. His writing has been published...
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