Berkley: the small metro Detroit city with a big heart

- Berkley, Michigan. Zip code 48072.

It's a town that's just two square miles with a population of 17,000 -- but it's got a big heart. Berkley has a lot to offer on its own from great gift shops, to restaurants, to events for the whole family.

Back in the 1800s, the land which would become Berkley was considered uninhabitable.

"This area was considered very swampy, very poor land," says James Jeffery Tong, Vice Chair of the Berkley Historical Committee. "When the United States first surveyed this whole area they said the land was so bad, don't even try to sell the land."

But it's come a long way since, with an award-winning school district, affordable housing and neighbors that really do care. In 2015, Money magazine named it one the best places to live in the U.S. Berkley was the only Michigan city to make the list.

"The test scores show Berkley has some of the best schools in this area, and there's still affordable housing. You can buy a very nice house in Berkley for under $200,000; where else can you do that? The location is perfect for the whole Detroit area; we're right in the middle of everything," Tong says. "It's a charming town. There's some beautiful homes; tree-lined streets; we still have a shopping strip on Coolidge and on 12 Mile. It's a very walkable city."

Every year  the Public Safety Department, along with local donors, puts on Lids for Kids. Children get free bike helmets, T-shirts, lunch and enjoy a day of fun with bounce houses and rock climbing.

The event coincides with the city's annual Art Bash on 12 Mile, which brings local artists from all over Michigan to sell paintings, jewelry, photographs, clothing and more.

Since 1995, the city also hosts a classic car parade downtown called the Berkley Cruisefest. The parade shuts down 12 Mile from Coolidge to Greenfield the day before the Woodward Dream Cruise.

Anyone who lives there will tell you Berkley is a great place to live, work and visit in metro Detroit.

FOX 2's The Nine took a Zip Trip to Berkley Friday morning. You can read more about Berkley and see other Zip Trip coverage here

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