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Sterling Heights is a city in Macomb County of the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 124,471, making it the fourth largest in Michigan.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 36.7 square miles (95.0 km²), of which, 36.6 square miles (94.9 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.14%) is water.
As of the census² of 2000, there were 124,471 people, 46,319 households, and 33,395 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,397.0 per square mile (1,311.6/km²). There were 47,547 housing units at an average density of 1,297.6/sq mi (501.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.70% White, 1.30% African American, 0.21% Native American, 4.92% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.34% from other races, and 2.50% from two or more races. 1.34% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Ancestries: Polish (19.0%), German (14.4%), Italian (12.5%), Irish (5.7%), English (5.0%), Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac (4.8%), and American/US (4.0%).
There were 46,319 households out of which 32.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.4% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.9% were non-families. 24.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.21.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.1% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 30.4% from 25 to 44, 25.2% from 45 to 64, and 11.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 96.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $60,494, and the median income for a family was $70,140. Males had a median income of $51,207 versus $31,489 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,958. About 4.0% of families and 5.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.6% of those under age 18 and 7.5% of those age 65 or over.
Sterling Heights was incorporated as a city in 1968. Prior to that it was known as Sterling Township. Anthony ("Tony) Dobry was the last Township Supervisor, and he became the first Mayor of the City. Dobry Boulevard, on the north end of town, is named for him. There was already a small village named Sterling in Arenac County, so the word "Heights" was added to the township name to satisfy a state law that prevents incorporated municipalities from having the same name. "Sterling Oaks" was another name under consideration for the new city.
Christopher Galeczka, the 1995 winner of the National Geography Bee (now known as the National Geographic Bee), is a native of Sterling Heights.
Rapper Eminem briefly lived in the city in 2000.
The city is home to the Freedom Hill county park, located on Metro Parkway (16 Mile Road) east of Schoenherr Road. Freedom Hill began hosting concerts in 1999 in its 7,000-seat, outdoor theater. Several residents near the park began complaining about the loud music coming from the amphitheater. The complaints led to a long legal battle between Sterling Heights and Hillside Productions, which runs the theater, over the theater's impact on the neighborhood.
In 2001, Hillside Productions filed suit in state and federal courts, accusing city officials of conspiring to interfere in its operations. In March 2004, the city settled out of court, agreeing to pay Hillside $31 million. As part of the settlement, Hillside built a 14-foot (4 m)-high sound wall and a huge roof to cover the pavilion seating area. It remains only partially enclosed. Concerts resumed, as did the complaints of neighbors. Sterling Heights then sued three of its insurance carriers who refused to compensate the city for its $31 million payment. In 2006, the city settled with two of the three insurers.
In the summer of 2006, it became publicly known that the city was considering amending its fire code to include a requirement that all businesses post a premises identification sign in English, in order to facilitate the ability of first responders to locate an emergency call. On July 13, 2006, the city received a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU) expressing its viewpoint that the English-language requirement for business signs was discriminatory.
The August 2006 issue of Money magazine listed Sterling Heights as No. 19 on its list of the 90 "Best Small Cities" to live in.
Sterling Heights was ranked the sixth safest city in the U.S. with a population between 100,000 - 499,999, according to Morgan Quitno's 2006 analysis of crime rates.