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WCSX City of the Week

Congratulations to Hazel Park,

You’re the WCSX City of the Week

Hazel Park factoids

  • Hazel Park is known as “the Friendly City.  It was incorporated as a city in 1941.

  • Hazel Park Raceway was in operation from 1949 – 2018 and was considered a high-quality facility originally used for both Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing. In 2018, Amazon bought the land for a delivery station.

  • In 1942, the Elias Brothers, John, Fred and Louis Elias, established the Dixie Drive-in, making it one of the first to offer curbside services. In 1952, the diner was franchised as a Big Boy restaurant. The Elias brothers continued to open Big Boy restaurants throughout the metro Detroit area and in 1983 purchased the franchiser.

  • The origin of the name Hazel Park is attributed to Royal Oak Township Superintendent of Schools, John Benjamine. He called the area Hazel Park because of the abundance of hazelnut bushes native to the area, which attributed to the swampy soil conditions at the time.

  • Harmony House originated in Hazel Park on the corner of 9 Mile and Stephenson Highway. Carl Thom opened the first Harmony House in 1947.  At its peak, Harmony House had 38 stores and employed more than 400 people.  The last Harmony House closed its doors in 2004.

  • The expansion of the I-75 freeway doomed a portion of the business district along John R.  The Modern Era City Hall that was built in the 50’s was also doomed by this expansion.  A new City Hall and library were constructed at the corner of 9 Mile and John R roads for a new civic center.  Designed by Josh Machida of Machida and Associates, both buildings were finished by 1970.

  • During World War II, large parts of the auto industries were converted to production of defense-related goods, and thousands of people migrated into the Hazel Park area for new jobs.