A Brief History of Our Livonia Hometown

Sense. Feel. Cultivate. Enjoy every aspect of Livonia. If earth’s great treasure lies in human personality, Livonia is a rich community indeed. 

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 then 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 harness racetrack near I-96 and Middlebelt Road at a cost of five million dollars. In order for the entire area of the Township of Livonia to benefit from racetrack revenues, it became necessary for the Township to incorporate. On May 23, 1950, the entire Township was incorporated into the City of Livonia. 

The Detroit Race Course opened in 1950 when Livonia was still a township.
The Detroit Race Course opened in 1950 when Livonia was still a township.

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. On land it purchased in 1976 at the southwest corner of Eight Mile and Newburgh, the City established Greenmead Historical Village. This 103-acre parcel includes the historical Greenmead Farm and 13 historical buildings. 

With a population of almost 96,000 people as of the 2020 U.S. Census, Livonia is Michigan’s ninth largest city. It maintains a friendly hometown atmosphere and is known for its public safety and public services and high level of community involvement.

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