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Early settlers to Royal Oak were farmers who cleared land to build their homes and plant crops, as agriculture was the primary occupation of the time. The advent of the railroad soon brought about logging, milling and other industries. Many early settlers to the area migrated from New York, including Orson Starr, the township’s first manufacturer. He became well known for making cowbells.
The City of Royal Oak requires no introduction to the Detroit metropolitan area. Conveniently located near several major thoroughfares, Royal Oak’s location is prime. This is evident in the steady rise of property values throughout the city. Royal Oak has maintained the appeal of a small town, while affording many of the amenities of a large metropolis. Because of its respect for diversity, the city’s composition is truly eclectic. The population represents a diverse mix of individuals, age groups, incomes, and myriad of residential home styles. Combined efforts of a proactive city government and Downtown Development Authority over the past several years has brought about a metamorphosis of the city’s central business district. Downtown improvements have included changes to the landscape that encourage socialization.
Royal Oak is the place to come to, not pass through on your way to somewhere else.
Downtown businesses have created a diverse, one-stop commercial district where customers find quality and personal service. Retail shops offer specialty items and many restaurants feature outdoor patios that connect visitors to the heart of Royal Oak. Street furniture provides convenient resting places and vantage points to observe the flurry of activity.
The renaissance of Royal Oak unveiled the city’s charm. Visitors to Main, Washington and other downtown streets experience the city’s unique sense of place and identity, unlike cities without downtown districts. This sentiment can be shared by pedestrians ambling along the downtown streetscapes that feature brick paving, street furniture, tree and flower plantings. It can be felt among patrons of the theaters, upscale restaurants, coffeehouses and distinctive shops. Visitors to downtown Royal Oak enjoy the pedestrian-friendly atmosphere and social interaction.
Royal Oak is proud of its 50 scenic parks, including two that are natural pristine reserves (Cummingston Park and Tehave Woods in Quickstad Park). Aggregately, they provide over 310 acres of natural woodlands and support a variety of interests. Some nestled in quiet neighborhoods focus on solace and retreat. Some have playscape equipment for children. Others provide tennis courts, frisbee-golf or play fields for organized team sporting events. Memorial Park, located at Woodward Avenue and Thirteen Mile Road, features three lighted ball diamonds and concession services.
Assorted activities are available to Royal Oak youth, adults and families through school, recreation and organization facilities. Sports-minded youth can play on a number of athletic leagues including hockey, baseball, basketball, soccer and girls softball. Adult leagues provide play in basketball, touch football, softball and sand volleyball. Swim instruction and open swim are available to all ages through the school district facilities. Children and adults can participate in instructional programs for dance, golf, tennis, badminton, tai chi, general fitness and other activities. The city’s John Lindell Ice Arena houses two indoor ice rinks for hockey leagues, year-round open skating and instructional classes for figure, hockey and speed skating.
The hazy days of summer need not be lazy, as the summer months hold a variety of options for youth. They can attend general day camps or day camps providing instruction in football, in-line skating, in-line hockey, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, girls volleyball, girls softball and cheerleading. Activity centers at several elementary schools provide supervised play, outings, games, and special projects in arts and crafts.