A brief history of our Livonia hometown–Simply the Best year in and year out
The area that is now Livonia was originally inhabited by Potowatami Indians. Rich soil and abundant harvests had first attracted pioneers from New England and New York to this area. They brought with them a new way of life and perhaps the very name “Livonia” – the name of a town in New York State, Pennsylvania State and a region of the Baltic Sea comprising present day Estonia and Latvia.Cake prepared by Heritage Bakery in honor of Livonia’s 175th Anniversary
By March 17, 1835, when an act of territorial legislature set the boundaries of Livonia Township, a forested wilderness had become an area of prosperous dairy farms and fruit orchards.
For the first 100 years, Livonians raised sheep and dairy cattle and grew vegetables and grain. Growth was slow. But gradually, over the years, dirt trails became roads and ten hard-surfaced highways.
In the late 1940’s, the area took its first dramatic step from agriculture to commerce and industry. In 1948, the General Motors Corporation built an automatic transmission plant, soon to be followed by a Ford Motor Company parts depot.
In 1949, the Michigan Racing Association built a thoroughbred an harness race track at a cost of 5 million dollars. In order for the entire area of the Township of Livonia to benefit from racetrack revenues, it became necessary to incorporate.
In 1950, the residents of Livonia Township voted to become a City. On May 23, 1950, the entire Township was incorporated into the City of Livonia. Livonia has grown from a population of 17,000 in 1950 to over 100,000 in 1998.
The City of Livonia has held on to much of its heritage through historic preservation, and the acquisition and development of over 1800 acres of park land and open space. Greenmead Historical Village is a 103-acre farm/museum of Livonia’s history at the southwest corner of Eight Mile and Newburgh.
The following people have served as Mayor for the City of Livonia:
- Jesse Ziegler, 1950-1954
- Harvey W. Moelke, 1962-1970
- Robert D. Bennett, 1988-1996
- Jack E. Kirksey, 2008-2015
- Elbert M. Hartom, 1954-1956
- Edward H. McNamara, 1970-1986
- Jack E. Kirksey, 1997-2003
- Dennis Wright, 2016-
- William W. Brashear, 1956-1961
- Robert McCann, 1986-1987
- Jack Engebretson, 2004-2007