In the early 1800s, Berkley
was an area of dense forests, swampy soil, and scattered family farms. Early settlers paid $1.25 per acre for land along a dirt trail connecting the cities of Detroit and Pontiac (today’s Woodward Avenue). Eventually, the forests were cleared, the swamps tamed, and a railway and paved roads would replace that dirt trail.
The 1910 opening of the Ford automobile factory in Highland Park and Berkley’s proximity
to the Detroit United Railway Line
forever altered this community. Job opportunities attracted workers from across the nation, triggering a local population boom and the need for more housing. Families began to sell off acres of their Berkley farmlands for new development.
Known for decades simply as “The 12 Mile District,” Berkley
became a village in 1923, and then a city in 1932—with a population of approximately 3,600. When the Detroit auto industry re-tooled for war during the 1940s, the City of Berkley
population exploded to over 17,000. The 2013 estimated population is 15,250.
In 2015, Money Magazine
one of the “Top 50 Best Places to Live in U.S.