Pontiac ( ') is a city and county seat
of Oakland County
in the U.S. state
As of the 2010 census
, the city had a total population of 59,515. A northern suburb of Metro Detroit
, Pontiac is about northwest of Detroit
Founded in 1818, Pontiac is notably the second European-American organized settlement in Michigan in close proximity to Detroit, second only to Dearborn
. It was named after Pontiac
, a war chief of the Ottawa people
, who had occupied the area before the European-American settlers. The city was best known for its General Motors
automobile manufacturing plants of the 20th century, which were the basis of its economy and contributed to the wealth of the region. These included Fisher Body
, Pontiac East Assembly
(a.k.a. Truck & Coach/Bus), which manufactured GMC
products, and the Pontiac Motor Division. In the city's heyday, it was the site of the primary automobile assembly plant for the production of the famed Pontiac
cars, a brand that was named after the city. The Pontiac brand itself was discontinued in 2010 by General Motors. The City of Pontiac also was home to Oakland Motor Car Company
, which was acquired by General Motors in 1909.
In 1975, the city built the Pontiac Silverdome
, the stadium that hosted the Detroit Lions
of the National Football League
from 1975 to 2001, when the team returned to Downtown Detroit at Ford Field
. Super Bowl XVI
was played at the Silverdome in 1982. After 2001, the stadium continued to be used for concerts and other events until it was demolished in 2018.
According to the United States Census Bureau
, the city has a total area of , of which is land and (1.58%) is water.
Pontiac is bounded by the city of Auburn Hills
to the east and north, the city of Lake Angelus
to the north, Waterford Township
to the west, and Bloomfield Township
to the south.
The former Pontiac Township
included what are now the cities of Pontiac, Lake Angelus, and Auburn Hills. The township incorporated as the city of Auburn Hills in 1983. Although the township no longer exists as a civil entity, it is still used as a survey township
for land use purposes.
As of 2000 the median income for a household in the city was $31,207, and the median income for a family was $36,391. Males had a median income of $31,961 versus $24,765 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,842. About 18.0% of families and 22.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.3% of those under age 18 and 15.7% of those age 65 or over.
As of the census
of 2010, there were 59,515 people, 22,220 households, and 13,365 families residing in the city. The population density was . There were 27,084 housing units at an average density of . The racial makeup of the city was 34.4% White
, 52.1% African American
, 0.6% Native American
, 2.3% Asian
, 6.2% from other races
, and 4.5% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 16.5% of the population.
There were 22,220 households, of which 35.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 26.4% were married couples living together, 27.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.7% had a male householder with no wife present, and 39.9% were non-families. 33.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.28.
The median age in the city was 33.4 years. 27.2% of residents were under the age of 18; 11.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 28.2% were from 25 to 44; 24.2% were from 45 to 64; and 9.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.1% male and 50.9% female.
Early European expeditions into the land north of Detroit described the area as having "extreme sterility and barrenness". Developments and exploration were soon to prove that report false.
The first European-American settlers arrived in what is now the city of Pontiac in 1818. Two years later the fledgling settlement was designated as the county seat for Oakland County. The Pontiac Company, consisting of 15 members and chaired by Solomon Sibley of Detroit
, comprised the first landowners in Pontiac. Sibley, along with Stephen Mack
and Shubael Conant, Pontiac Company members, also formed the partnership Mack, Conant & Sibley to develop a town. Solomon and his wife Sarah Sibley largely financed construction of the first buildings. While Solomon was the first chair of the Pontiac Company, for two years Sarah Sibley was the most active as the go-between with settlers at Pontiac. Solomon Sibley was constantly traveling as a Territorial Congressman and later a Territorial Supreme Court judge.
In the 1820s Elizabeth Denison, an unmarried, free black woman, worked for the Sibleys. They helped her buy land in Pontiac in 1825. Stephen Mack, agent for the Pontiac Company, signed the deed at the request of the Sibleys, conveying 48.5 acres to Elizabeth Denison. She is believed to be the first black woman to purchase land in the new territory of Michigan.
In 1837 Pontiac became a village, the same year that Michigan gained statehood. The town had been named after the noted Ottawa Indian war chief who had his headquarters in the area decades before, during the resistance to European-American encroachment. Founded on the Clinton River
, Pontiac was Michigan's first inland settlement. Rivers were critical to settlements as transportation ways, in addition to providing water and, later, power.
The village was incorporated by the legislature as a city in 1861. From the beginning, Pontiac's central location served it well. It attracted professional people, including doctors and lawyers, and soon became a center of industry. Woolen and grist mills made use of the Clinton River
as a power source.
Abundant natural resources led to the establishment of several carriage manufacturing companies, all of which were thriving at the turn of the 20th century. At that time, the first self-propelled vehicles were introduced. Pontiac quickly became a capital of the new automotive industry. Throughout the 1920s and 30s, Pontiac had tremendous growth in its population and size as tens of thousands of prospective autoworkers moved here from the South to work in its GM auto assembly plants at Pontiac Assembly
. African Americans came in the Great Migration
, seeking work, education, and the chance to vote and escape the oppression of Jim Crow
in the South.
As the small "horseless carriage" manufacturers became consolidated under the mantle of the General Motors Corporation, Pontiac grew as the industry grew. It also suffered the same setbacks as other cities during the Great Depression
years of the 1930s. The buildup of the defense industry and conversion of the automotive industry to war demands increased the need for labor. The first postwar years after World War II were a time of prosperity, but the city changed as suburbs were developed and people commuted by car to work. The more established residents moved out to buy newer housing being built in the suburbs, draining off business and resulting in vacancies downtown.
In order to prevent flooding, Pontiac confined the Clinton River in concrete through the downtown in 1963. Changing ideas about urban living in the early 21st century prompted the city to study uncovering the river to create a waterfront community in the city.
In late 1966, Pontiac-born real estate developer A. Alfred Taubman
tried to build a large-scalshopping mall
on vacant downtown land (where the Phoenix Center now stands). It was unsuccessful. Pontiac residen
and his University of Detroit
architectural class created a more comprehensive plan for development to benefit the city and the entire region around it. In 1969, the city of Pontiac adopted the Pontiac Plan as the official plan for rebuilding the vacant area of the downtown district.
In 1965, Davidson overheard news that the Detroit Lions
were seeking new football stadium
in Southeast Michigan. Professor Davidson and city leaders made a push to develop a new multi-purpose stadium, which was built and became known as the Silverdome
. Construction began on the 80,000-seat stadium in 1972 and it opened in 1975 as the Pontiac Metropolitan Stadium.
This was a part of Davidson's vision for Pontiac. Besides becoming the new home stadium of the NFL's Detroit Lions
, NBA's Detroit Pistons
and USFL's Michigan Panthers
, the arena hosted such events as the 1979 NBA All-Star Game
, the 1982 Super Bowl XVI
game between the San Francisco 49ers
and Cincinnati Bengals
, and four matches of soccer's 1994 World Cup
Construction began in the 1970s on an urban renewal project known as thePontiac Plan
. The initial phase of this plan included the Phoenix Center, three office buildings, a transportation center, and a high-rise residential complex. The remainder of the plan was never completed. The city has struggled with declining population since 1980, due to industrial restructuring and the loss of jobs, especially in the automotive industry.
Emergency financial manager
From 2009 through 2013, Pontiac was under the oversight of an Emergency Financial Manager appointed by the state government. The Emergency Manager was authorized to make day-to-day executive and financial municipal decisions. The position was not subject to the usual checks and balances, nor to election. The first and second managers, Fred Leeb and Michael Stampfler, were appointed by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm
. The third manager was Louis Schimmel, who was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder
In order to balance the budget, state-appointed emergency managers drastically revised labor union contracts with the city, sold off city assets such as parking meters, and privatized most public services. The Oakland County Sheriff's Office handles all police (saving $2 million a year) and nearby Waterford township has responsibility for fire protection (saving $3 million). Pontiac sold its water treatment plant for $55 million, and outsources garbage collection, animal control, vital records and street maintenance. Many people working in City Hall are employed by contractors. The city payroll has declined from 600 to 50 employees. The Silverdome Stadium, once valued at $22 million, was sold for $583,000 (it would end up being demolished in December 2017). The emergency managers reduced the city's annual spending to $36 million from $57 million, and erased almost all of its long-term debt.
In August 2013, Schimmel resigned as Emergency Financial Manager. Schimmel now serves as part of the four-member Transition Advisory Board for the city. Other members of the board include Deputy Oakland County Executive Bob Daddow, Rochester Hills Finance Director Keith Sawdon, and Ed Karyzno, administrator of the Michigan Department of Treasury's Office of Financial Responsibility.
In July 2012, Mayor Leon Jukowski and Emergency Financial Manager Louis Schimmel announced plans to demolish the Phoenix Center. Its vacancy rates were high, and the city did not want to continue the high maintenance costs. New thinking about downtown was to re-emphasize the street grid; the city wanted to reconnect Saginaw Street to the downtown area. Owners of the connecting Ottawa Towers filed an injunction, claiming the demolition would devalue their property and result in lost parking. In December 2012, a judge granted an injunction for the Ottawa Towers on an "expedited calendar", which prevented the demolition of the Phoenix Center for the time being.
In 2010, city leaders and business owners had launched "The Rise of The Phoenix" initiative. This plan was intended to attract businesses interested in downtown retail space. The applicants selected would be given free rent in exchange for multi-year leases (two years or more) as well as one year of free parking in city lots. Some 52 new businesses were recruited to locate in downtown Pontiac, bringing new life to the city. Plans for the development of mixed-use and loft flats in downtown were announced in September 2011 by the Michigan Economic Growth Authority (MEGA). MEGA estimates the development could generate $20.4 million in new investment and create up to 107 permanent full-time jobs in downtown. The development was to be supported by a state tax break.
On January 26, 2012, West Construction Services began the renovation and restoration of the former Sears
building for the Lafayette Place Lofts, the largest construction investment in Downtown Pontiac in approximately 30 years. The project is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
(LEED) certified residential and commercial mixed-use development: it will have 46 new urban rental lofts, a fresh food grocery store and café, and an Anytime Fitness
center. Construction was completed during 2012, and the lofts and market opened in December of that year. 10 West Lofts, another development in the area, will bring more residents to downtown Pontiac.
Regionally, the city was known for the Arts, Beats and Eats Festival, a widely attended summer festival featuring an art show, musical concert venues, and a sampling of food from numerous regional restaurants. In 2010, the festival was moved to nearby Royal Oak
. The First Annual Scheme Cruise was held September 6, 2015, an event sponsored by the Scheme Street Battle League. The event combined rap battles, basketball competitions, and a car show. Pontiac officials are considering relocating the event to the downtown area of the city.
The city is at the north end of the famous Woodward Avenue
, which extends as a major boulevard into Detroit. It was originally lined with mansions and prestigious businesses. In the 1950s and 1960s it was popular with young people who would "cruise" and drag-race their hot-rods
in the area. Pontiac participates in the annual Woodward Dream Cruise
, an event celebrating Woodward's hot-rod history, with a parade of cars stretching from Detroit to Pontiac.
Downtown Pontiac's nightlife includes nightclubs and music venues such as Club Visions, Tonic, and The Crofoot
The city hosts two nationally renowned haunted house
s: The Realm of Darkness and Erebus
. The Realm of Darkness has in previous years been chosen as America's Best Haunted House. Erebus
held the world record from 2005 to 2009 for "Largest Haunted House;" it is 4 stories high.
Pontiac was an early location of movie making, with the Raleigh Michigan Studios, renamed as the Motown Motion Picture Studios
. Scenes of the 2012 remake of the film ''Red Dawn
'' were filmed in Pontiac and other Michigan locations, recreating Spokane, Washington
. Additionally, downtown Pontiac in August 2012 was the filming site for the tornado-themed disaster movie ''Into the Storm
.'' The 2013 fantasy
adventure film ''Oz the Great and Powerful
'' was filmed at Motown Motion Picture Studios. ''Transformers: Age of Extinction
'' is the latest movie to be filmed within the studio, with the bulk of filming taking place in Pontiac.
Pontiac is home to the Michigan Fallen Heroes Memorial. It is located within the Oakland County Government Complex off Telegraph Road
operates passenger service with its Wolverine
from Pontiac to Chicago via Detroit and Battle Creek, Michigan
. Service is three times daily, both arriving and departing.
Commuter rail service
was once provided by Grand Trunk Western Railroad
(GTW) and later Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority (SEMTA) from Pontiac to downtown Detroit. This service ended on October 17, 1983, after subsidies were discontinued. Efforts continue to restore such commuter service.
Class one freight rail service is provided by Grand Trunk Western Railroad (GTW), which also operates a large classification yard
in Pontiac serving the local auto industry. The Grand Trunk Western Railroad (reporting mark GTW) is an important subsidiary of the Canadian National Railway (CN). It constitutes the majority of CN's Chicago Division (which is part of CN's Southern Region). It operates in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, forming the CN mainline from Port Huron
, as well as serving Detroit
Oakland County International Airport
serves the city and surrounding areas with commuter air service. When previously owned by the city, it was known as the Pontiac City Airport. But it is located outside the city in neighboring Waterford Township
and not on land contiguous with Pontiac's city limits. Detroit Metropolitan Airport
, a larger international airport, is 35 miles south of the city in Romulus
Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation
(SMART) operates local and regional bus transit.
The major thoroughfares in the city are: Woodward Avenue (M-1), Huron Street (M-59), and Telegraph Road (US 24). Portions of Woodward Avenue were once known as "Saginaw Street" and "Wide Track Drive" (the portion of "Wide Track Drive" that encircles the downtown business district is now known as the "Woodward Loop")
* provides a connection northwest to nearby Flint
. Detroit is to the south.
* runs through Pontiac.
* ends north of Pontiac in at I-75. Southbound, US 24 serves suburban Detroit and Monroe
before crossing into Ohio
* serves local business traffic through the city.
* northbound loops around Pontiac's downtown district (now known as the "Woodward Loop", continuing its loop back southbound as "Saginaw Street", then returning to the name of Woodward Avenue and routing directly to Downtown Detroit
* southbound ends in Auburn Hills at I-75. Northbound, the highway connects to Lapeer
. Note: M-24 does not intersect with US 24.
* runs west to Howell
and east to Utica
and several other Detroit suburbs.
* State officials
** Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D)
** State Senator Rosemary Bayer (D)
— 12th State Senate District
** State Representative Brenda Carter (D)
– 29th State House District
* Federal officials
** Senator Gary Peters (D)
** Senator Debbie Stabenow (D)
** Representative Brenda Lawrence (D)
– 14th Congressional District
The Mayor of Pontiac is Dr. Deirdre Holloway Waterman
, an ophthalmologist who was elected as Pontiac's first female mayor by more than 68% of the vote on November 5, 2013.
The city levies an income tax of 1 percent on residents and 0.5 percent on nonresidents.
For Pontiac Library Board, nine candidates filed for the November 5, 2013 general election: Incumbents Joyce Allen, Roger Derby and Deirdre Waterman, as well as challengers Vernita Duvall, Juliene Dixon Jenkins, Ronnie Karpinski, Evelyn LeDuff, Rosie Richardson, and Deveda Travis. The top six vote-getters will earn the four-year Library board director positions. After dropping out of the library board elections, Deirdre Waterman was elected Pontiac's first female mayor on November 5, 2013. Patrice Waterman, her niece, became mayor pro tem
Oakland County Service Center
The East Campus of the Oakland County Service Center is located in Pontiac. It includes the county courthouse and jail for adults.
. Oakland County Government. Retrieved on July 9, 2015.
Residents are zoned to the School District of the City of Pontiac
. The district runs one main high school, Pontiac High School. There were once two high schools, Pontiac Northern and Pontiac Central
, but by December 2008 administrators were making plans to consolidate the schools.
Four charter schools operate in Pontiac; they are Pontiac Academy for Excellence
(K-12), Arts and Technology Academy, Walton Charter, and Great Lakes Academy. Pontiac is also home to Notre Dame Preparatory High School
, a private Catholic school located in the North East area of the city.
George Merryweather born in Yarm, England 1769, Steward to George Lord Viscount Barrington (5th) 1815 - 1821. Emigrated to USA 1836, died in Pontiac 1852. Much respected & sons & daughters with him. Shrivenham Heritage Society UK.
, jazz pianist, born in Pontiac
, author, born in Pontiac
, MLB pitcher, born in Pontiac
, NFL player, born in Pontiac
*Adolphus W. Burtt
, South Dakota Attorney General
*Albert J. Campbell
, U.S. Representative from Montana
*Madonna Louise Ciccone
, known mononymously as Madonna
, singer and actress, lived in Pontiac during childhood
* Sara Lynn Darrow
, United States District Court judge, born in Pontiac
* Pete Dexter
, journalist, novelist, and screenwriter, born in Pontiac
* Thomas J. Drake
, justice of Utah Territorial Supreme Court
and third Lieutenant Governor of Michigan
, died in Pontiac
, the solo musical project of NYC-based electronic musician and producer Neptune Sweet
, Major League Baseball
player and manager
, two-time World Series champion, born in Pontiac
, NFL player, born in Pontiac
*K. J. Hamler
, football player for the Denver Broncos
, actress, starred in hit television series ''ER
''; born in Pontiac
, jazz drummer
of the post-bop
era, born in Pontiac
, musician, 2009 recipient of Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
; lived in Pontiac
, hurdler, NCAA champion and 1964 Summer Olympics
gold medalist; lived in Pontiac
, jazz musician, born in Pontiac
activist, painter, author, composer and instrumentalist, born in Pontiac
, diver, Olympic gold medalist and 10-time national champion, U.S. Air Force colonel, born in Pontiac
* Henry W. Lord
, U.S. Congressman from Michigan
, actor/singer and former Mouseketeer, born in Pontiac
, author/actor, grew up in Pontiac
, NBA Player for the Miami Heat
(born 1948 in Pontiac),
blues singer and songwriter
, rapper, born in Pontiac
, figure skater, 2016 national champion, born in Pontiac
*Duane D. Pearsall
, physicist and inventor
, United States Senator, born in Pontiac
*Howard "Howdy" Quicksell
, musician, lived and died in Pontiac
, pro basketball player, born in Pontiac
*Walker Russell Jr.
, pro basketball player, born in Pontiac
, NBA player, Chicago Bulls, first from Oakland County and Pontiac to play in modern NBA; raised in Pontiac
, basketball player, Michigan
; Best High School Player in America 1971–72, NBA All-Star 1978–79; broadcaster for Cleveland Cavaliers
; raised in Pontiac
NHL hockey player for the Pittsburgh Penguins
, 2x Stanley Cup Champion
, real estate developer, owned famed Sotheby's
auction house and Michigan Panthers
pro football team; born in Pontiac
* Wilma Vaught
, U.S. Air Force brigadier general, born in Pontiac
* Tim Welke
, Major League Baseball umpire, born in Pontiac
* Lawrence S. Bacow
, President of Harvard University
, born in Detroit, grew up in Pontiac
, rapper and YouTube personality, born and raised in Pontiac
The Köppen Climate Classification
subtype for this climate is "Dfb
" (Warm Summer Continental Climate).
* Images of metropolitan Detroit
* Gary Burnstein Community Health Clinic
* Saginaw Trail
* Woodward Corridor
City of Pontiac, MichiganPONTIAC MASTER PLAN EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
*Tocqueville in Pontiac
' – Segment from C-SPAN
's ''Alexis de Tocqueville Tour
Category:Cities in Oakland County, Michigan
Category:County seats in Michigan
Category:Populated places established in 1818
Category:1818 establishments in Michigan Territory