Our City

Hamtramck

Hamtramck is a 2.1 square mile city located in southeastern Michigan.  It is mostly surrounded by Detroit except for a small common border with the city of Highland Park.  Hamtramck lies about five miles (8 km) from the center of Detroit.  The I-75 Freeway roughly runs along Hamtramck’s western border and I-94 runs near its southern border.

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About the Name

In its earliest days, the area now known as Hamtramck was settled by the French who came largely from Quebec. In 1798, Wayne County was divided into four townships, Detroit, Mackinaw, Sergeant, and Hamtramck. Hamtramck, was named after a French Revolutionary War hero, Colonel Jean Francois Hamtramck (1756-1803).

Early History

Hamtramck’s old world hospitality has its roots in the early 1900’s when it was a peaceful German-American farming community with a population of 500. The establishment of the Dodge Brothers automobile plant in 1914 attracted Polish laborers in large numbers and the village quickly flourished. Between 1910 and 1920 Hamtramck continued to flourish, growing from 3,589 to 46,615: the greatest community growth for that period in the United States. The idea of organizing Hamtramck as a village first arose in 1901. It was finally incorporated as a city in 1922, when it decided to in to protect itself from becoming annexed by Detroit, which completely surrounds Hamtramck. Pharmacist Peter C. Jezewski was elected first mayor in 1922.

Hamtramck has a strong a diverse economy, however, at one time the automotive industry played a critical role in the city. Chrysler introduced the Dodge (1955) model of its car series here in November 1954. On June 10, 1910, John and Horace Dodge broke ground for the Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company located on the South End near Joseph Campau and Conant. The first auto was produced in Hamtramck on November 14, 1914. Dodge was subsequently purchased by Chrysler on July 30, 1928. This much heralded event saw the city unofficially named Dodge City for the week and the arrival of Roy Rogers as the guest of honor.

Hamtramck Timeline

1796 - Colonel Jean Francois Hamtramck took possession of Detroit after British troops evacuated. 
1798 - The Township of Hamtramck was established. 
1901 - Hamtramck was established as a village. 
1908 - Saint Florian's parish is the first Catholic church in Hamtramck. 
1910 - Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company break ground for an automotive plant in Hamtramck; rapid influx of European immigrants begins. 
1914 - Dodge Brothers plant begins operations. 
1922 - Hamtramck is incorporated as a city to protect itself from annexation by Detroit; Peter C. Jezewski is the first mayor. 
1926 - St. Florian's present church edifice is built. 
1959 - Won Little League World Series of Baseball. 
1996 - Ordinance to Preserve Park Land passed by voters.

Geography

Hamtramck is mostly surrounded by Detroit except a small common border with the city of Highland Park. Hamtramck lies about five miles (8 km) from the center of Detroit. The I-75 Freeway roughly runs along this city's western border and I-94 runs near its southern border.

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Hamtramck's Economy

General Motors' Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly plant, one of the automaker's premiere facilities, produces the Cadillac DTS and the Buick Lucerne.

 

The Polish Art Center is a local institution in Hamtramck. There, one can find many Polish art objects, books, foods, and art from other areas of Europe. The center's selection of Communist-era Polish theatrical and operatic posters is extremely unusual.

Festivals and Events

-Browse the gallery to learn about Hamtramck's festivals and events-

Paczki Day
Hamtramck Music Festival
St. Florian Strawberry Festival
Hamtramck Labor Day Festival
Planet Ant Film & Video Festival in Hamtramck
North American Bangladesh Festival

Notable People

-Click each photo to learn about Hamtramck's notable people-

Rudolph Tomjanovich, Jr.
Rudolph Tomjanovich, Jr.

Born November 24, 1948, in Hamtramck, Michigan, nicknamed Rudy T., is an American former basketball player and coach. Tomjanovich was born to an American family of Croatian descent. He attended high school in Hamtramck, and later the University of Michigan (from 1967 to 1970). ​ Tomjanovich was selected in the 1970 NBA Draft as the second overall pick by the San Diego Rockets (the franchise relocated to Houston in 1971), for whom he would play the entirety of his NBA career. He was also drafted in both 1970[1] and 1974[2] by the Utah Stars of the ABA. In his eleven years in the NBA, Tomjanovich had a scoring average of 17.4 points and a rebounding average of 8.1, earning five All-Star Game selections in the process (1974–1977, 1979). He is the third-leading scorer in Rockets history behind Hall of Famers Calvin Murphy and Hakeem Olajuwon. Because his last name was so long, the back of Tomjanovich's jerseys would read "RUDY T.", rather than his 11 character name.

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Mitch Ryder
Mitch Ryder (born William S. Levise)

Born February 26, 1945, in Hamtramck, Michigan as William S. Levise Jr., is an American musician. ​ Ryder is noted for his gruff, wailing singing style, much influenced by Little Richard, and his dynamic stage performances, influenced by James Brown. Ryder first appeared fronting a band called Billy Lee & The Rivieras, which had limited success until they met the songwriter / record producer, Bob Crewe. Crewe renamed the group Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, and they recorded several hit records on his DynoVoice Records label in the mid to late 1960s, most notably "Devil With A Blue Dress On".

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Gail Kobe
Gail Kobe

Born March 19, 1929 in Detroit, Michigan is an American actress and producer. During the 1950s and 1960s, she made dozens of guest appearances on such television programs as The Twilight Zone, Dr. Kildare, Felony Squad, Gunsmoke, Daniel Boone, and Mannix. She had a short role as Doris Schuster on Peyton Place. She also appeared on daytime's Bright Promise as Ann Boyd Jones (1970-1972). ​ Kobe began to work behind the camera as supervising producer and associate producer on such daytime programs as The Edge of Night and Return to Peyton Place. In 1982 she became executive producer of Texas during its final few months. She then became executive producer of Guiding Light where she stayed from 1982 to 1987.

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Tom Tyler
Tom Tyler

Born August 9, 1903, Tyler was an American actor in silent and sound motion pictures. ​ He was born Vincent Markowski, into a Polish-American family. Tyler had a long career in film, stretching from the 1920s to the 1950s, and appeared in many films, most of them westerns such as John Ford's Stagecoach and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. He occasionally took "civilian" roles in feature films (he's the boxing referee in Abbott and Costello's Buck Privates), but the biggest part of Tyler's screen career was spent making low-budget B-movie westerns for modest salaries. Most of his budget westerns were made by Reliable Pictures for producers Bernard B. Ray and Harry S. Webb. ​ Tyler died May 1, 1954.

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John Hodiak
John Hodiak

John Hodiak born April 16, 1914 was an American actor. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Walter Hodiak (October 25, 1888 – August 21, 1962) and Anna Pogorzelec (February 28, 1888 – October 17, 1971). He was of Ukrainian and Polish descent. He grew up in Hamtramck, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. At the age of forty-one, Hodiak suffered a fatal heart attack in the bathroom of the Tarzana, California home he built for his parents. He was shaving and getting ready to go to the studio to complete his scenes in On The Threshold of Space.  He died October 19, 1955.

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The Honorable, al-Imam Warith Deen Mohammad
The Honorable, al-Imam Warith Deen

Born Wallace D. Muhammad on October 30, 1933 is an influential American Muslim leader. He is the son of Clara and Elijah Muhammad. ​ Warith's father, Elijah Muhammad (also known as the Honorable Elijah Muhammad) was the leader of the Nation of Islam from 1934 to 1975, an organization which preaches Black nationalism. Elijah Muhammad died on February 26, 1975.

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