Oakland County History
Oakland County was created in 1819 by territorial governor Lewis Cass. By 1840, Oakland had more than fifty mills. Pontiac, located on the Clinton River, was Oakland's first town and became the county seat. After the Civil War, Oakland was primarily an agricultural county with numerous isolated villages. By the end of the 19th Century, three rail lines served Pontiac and the city attracted carriage and wagon factories. Streetcars were the main mode of transportation in the late 1890s.
Developers quickly turned southern Oakland County into a suburb of Detroit in the 1890s, when a Cincinnati firm developed and then platted a section of Royal Oak called "Urbanrest." Migration worked both ways. Several thousand people moved from Oakland County farms to Detroit as the city attracted factories. By 1910, a number of rich Detroit residents had summer homes and some year-round residences in an area that would became Bloomfield Hills. The auto age enveloped Pontiac in the early 1900s. The Oakland Motor Car Company was established in 1907 and would eventually become part of General Motors Corporation, which was soon Pontiac's dominate firm.
In the 1950s, jobs and people began leaving Detroit. Northland Center opened in 1954. Oakland County would soon pass Wayne County in effective buying power by 1961, when it ranked 28th in the nation in household income. It ranked second-highest nationally in per capita income for counties of more than a million people, right behind Manhattanm New York City. The median price of a home in Oakland County quickly rose to $164,697, more than $30,000 above the national median