By: Mark H Stowers
David Letterman created thousands of Top 10 Lists during his late night variety show years. Though he probably has legions of fans in Ferndale, the late night legend never created a special list for the Funky city. But Realtor.com has taken up the task. In surveying the top 100 real estate markets across the United States, Ferndale Michigan was voted number nine as a destination for first time home buyers. The criteria included:
- Housing affordability specific to incomes of 25 to 34-year-olds
- Active listings per 1,000 households
- Forecasted home sales and price growth
- Job opportunities and unemployment rate
- Average work commute time
- Area amenities such as businesses and restaurants.
But Ferndale, Michigan is really no secret. The Detroit suburb has long been a destination and home for folks of all statuses. Consisting of nearly four-square miles of funky fun, Indians first roamed the land that would soon become farmland in the 1800s. When the automobile was invented and folks flocked to auto assembly line jobs, Ferndale’s population grew rapidly.
First as a village in 1918, then Ferndale incorporated in 1927 and became a hub for those who worked in Detroit. A trolley ran up and down Woodward from Pontiac to Detroit and spurred growth outside the Motor City. By the 1970s, Ferndale had become a family haven. The city’s well-known residents include former Michigan Governor James Blanchard, jazz musician Ron Carter, actor Dana Elcar (The Sting and MacGyver), heiress Elena Ford and MLB pitchers Ken Rowe and Bob Welch.
Today the vibrant city is a hub for restaurants, art and fun as the city’s main intersection of Nine Mile and Woodward attracts residents and visitors from all over to the 20,000-plus resident mecca.
When Ferndale comes to mind, most folks know of the Nine Mile and Woodward downtown area that is brimming with a wide-ranging taste of restaurants, fashion and culture. There’s an eclectic mix of restaurants, bars and shops not found in other cities.
Former mayor and now Oakland County Executive, Dave Coulter knows much about the Top 10 City.
“The secret ingredient to Ferndale is its friendliness. We consider ourselves a welcoming and diverse community. I think people feel that when they come here.”
Coulter noted that the city “prides itself on clean neighborhoods, smooth roads, nice parks, great library and all the amenities our residents expect.”
Ferndale’s history includes having Michigan’s longest running Memorial Day Parade (100 years) – one in which General Dwight D. Eisenhower participated in during the 1950s. The town has connections to Detroit’s Motown Music era as the group, The Spinners, came from Ferndale. Rapper Eminem has a recording studio in Ferndale as well. The town’s historical museum on Livernois contains photos and artifacts of the city’s nearly 100 years of existence. The former mayor noted the small town feel of Ferndale is evident in that “it’s a real community in every sense of the word – people know each other, care about each other and are passionate about their city.”
One of the unique businesses got its start from a failed box store. When Old Navy left the corner of Nine Mile and Woodward the Rust Belt Market moved in. The open-air market is a collection of creative vendors and vintage collectors. Many have started there and gone onto bigger brick and mortar presence across metro Detroit. Tiffani and Chris Best put the Rust Belt Market together in 2011 with 70 independent set ups.
The Funky City has plenty of Festivals such as Pig and Whiskey that features both of those as well as live music in the summer. In late January a blues festival takes place across several bars and restaurants. Ferndale also sports a larger than normal health and wellness industry. The former mayor summed up Funky Ferndale for those thinking about visiting.
“If you’ve never been to Ferndale, there always something different and unusual that will catch your interest in Ferndale,” Coulter said.
For more information about Funky Ferndale Michigan, check out www.downtownferndale.com.
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