Gracious hosts on holiday are allowing me the warm convenience of their home in Hamtramck, Michigan for our Detroit swing of the Pilgrim Strong book tour. This community is lovely, fascinating, and, in so many ways, shows our country at its best. A few quick facts from Wikipedia, and some photos from a morning walk:
- Known in the 20th century as a vibrant center of Polish American life and culture, Hamtramck has continued to attract immigrants, especially Bangladeshis. In 2015 its city council became the first majority Muslim city council in the U.S.
- Hamtramck is named for the French-Canadian soldier Jean François Hamtramck who was the first American commander of Fort Shelby, the fortification at Detroit. It was originally known as Hamtramck Township.
- Hamtramck was originally settled by German farmers, but Polish immigrants flooded into the area when the Dodge Brothersplant opened in 1914. Poles used to make up a large proportion of the population. It is sometimes confused with Poletown, a traditional Polish neighborhood, which used to lie mostly in the city of Detroit and includes a small part of Hamtramck. As of the 2010 American Community Survey, 14.5% of Hamtramck’s population is of Polish origin; in 1970, it was 90% Polish. Over the past thirty years, a large number of immigrants from the Middle East (especially Yemen), South Asia (especially Bangladesh), and Southeastern Europe (especially Bosnia and Herzegovina) have moved to the city. As of the 2010 American Community Survey, the city’s foreign born population stood at 41.1%, making it Michigan’s most internationally diverse city.
- A recent survey found 26 native languages spoken by Hamtramck schoolchildren.
- In 1997, the Utne Reader named Hamtramck one of “the 15 hippest neighborhoods in the U.S. and Canada” in part for its punk and alternative music scene, its Buddhist temple, its cultural diversity, and its laid back blue-collar neighborhoods.
4 thoughts on “Hamtramck, Michigan – This is America.”
When you see your name on a book that you wrote on someone’s shelve, my brother, that is what I call,
Well, as I said, that was photo worthy only because it will NEVER happen again. ha!
I was at the Northville REI presentation last night (bought the book, camo jacket). You have me hooked on doing the CAMINO.
Nice article about Hamtramck. I grew up at 2626 Evaline in Hamtramck and was baptized at St Ladislaus Church on Caniff Street. My parents (dad off the boat at Ellis Island in 1949, and mom a daughter of Polish immigrants), met in Hamtramck. We moved to Redford Twsp (late 50’s) when my dad’s job was transferred to the Livonia Spring and Bumper plant. Many fond memories of returning to Hamtramck to visit the relatives and always get a haircut at the Barber College on Jos. Campau because they only cost a $1 and there were four boys in the family.
Maybe some day our paths shall once again cross.
Ted, so good to hear from you. What great memories you have. Please stay in touch. Hope you enjoy the book, and Buen Camino!