History

Establishment

Historical Township MapThe area that is now Livonia was originally inhabited by Potawatomi 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.

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.

Early Development

Historical Photo of FarmingFor 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 1940s, 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 and 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.

Vote to Become a City

Historical Photo of the Charter CommissionIn 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.

Historic Preservation

The City of Livonia has held on to much of its heritage through historic preservation, and the acquisition and development of over 1,800 acres of parkland 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 Roads.

Early Economic Development

Historical Economic Development Brochure

Mayors of Livonia

MayorYears of Service
Jesse Ziegler1950 to 1954
Elbert M. Hartom1954 to 1956
William W. Brashear1956 to 1961
Harvey W. Moelke1962 to 1970
Edward H. McNamara1970 to 1986
Robert McCann1986 to 1987
Robert D. Bennett1988 to 1995
Jack E. Kirksey1996 to 2003
Jack Engebretson2004 to 2007
Jack E. Kirksey2008 to 2015
Dennis K. Wright2016 to Present