Highland Park was once known as the heart of Detroit, the birthplace of mass production, and the former headquarters of two of America’s biggest automakers: Ford Motor Company and the Chrysler Corporation. The city’s disputed water plant is the same Henry Ford build to fuel his automobile industry. Once a thriving community of 60,000 people, Highland Park was known as the city of trees, an attractive bedroom community for working class people with jobs in the automobile industry. It was also the home of labor organizers who devoted their lives to improving conditions in the factories and in their communities.
The exodus of the automobile giants, Ford and Chrysler, combined with a steady decline in population have contributed to the financial crisis the city faces today. Today the city’s mere 16,000 residents, a majority of whom are low income, female-headed households, and senior citizens are burdened with an oversized and aging city infrastructure and the consequences of years of financial mismanagement.
Along with four other cities in the state of Michigan, the city of Highland Park was appointed an emergency financial manager to get the city out of crisis. Under Act 72, the emergency manager has the authority to override the decisions of elected city council members and the mayor. Ramona Pearson was the first emergency financial manager of Highland Park (appointed by Republican Governor Engler). Arthur Blackwell is currently the emergency financial manager of Highland Park (apointed by Democrat Governor Grandholm).
And while the city is burdened with financial concerns, the citizens of Highland Park are very involved in their community. For updates on what is going on in Highland Park, visit