Royal Oak is a city in suburban Detroit, Michigan, situated in Oakland County about 10 miles northwest of downtown Detroit along Woodward Avenue, one of the major thoroghfares in the Detroit metro area.
Originally a quite distinct city with its own rail station and surrounding farms, Royal Oak was swamped by the first wave of suburbanization. It was for the most part a working and middle class town, transitional between the upper middle class and wealthy towns to the north and west that characterize much of Oakland County, including neighboring Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, West Bloomfield Township, Southfield, Franklin, and Beverly Hills, and the more working class towns to the south and east, including Ferndale, Oak Park, and Hazel Park.
In recent years, downtown Royal Oak has become one of the primary urban hang-out zones for metro Detroit, with restaurants, cafés, bars, clubs, quite a few quality record stores, and the infamous Noir Leather. Its compact pedestrian-friendly streets and proximity to nearby wealth made this an inevitability.