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Our City History

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Birmingham became a city in 1933--but as a community, Birmingham has a much longer history. Through it all, certain themes emerge that have made this place and its people special. These themes include government, commerce, transportation, and education, to name a few. Take a deeper dive to get a bigger picture of how Birmingham became what is today.

Detail Wampler Survey Pre-Settlement and Pioneer Period: Late 1700s to Civil War 
Who were the first pioneer white settlers in the Birmingham area, and what was their experience of local Indigenous People?  How did they shape the settlement and its economy? How did Birmingham get its name? What led to the village's growth, and what was the social and political context of Birmingham leading up to the Civil War? Download a .pdf of the "Pioneers" tour of Greenwood Cemetery.     Read more   

Erity and Nixon BlockIt Takes a Village: Post- Civil War to Late 1800s
How did the economic and industrial changes in southern Michigan after the Civil War affect the Village of Birmingham? How did the village become a commercial center for the area? Read more Who were the families who became important community builders?   Get a .pdf of the "Nineteenth Century Community Builders" Greenwood Cemetery tour.

Demolition for Shain ParkGrowing Pains: Twentieth Century Turmoilcity charter
The early twentieth century was not as sleepy in Birmingham as we sometimes think. Controversy reigned for decades about how to deal with the explosion of growth and whether to become a city.  Read more