Grosse Ile Township is a civil township of Wayne County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The township encompasses several islands in the Detroit River, of which the largest is named as Grosse Ile. Named by French explorers in 1679, Grosse Île means “Big Island”. Later taken under British rule after 1763, the island was not settled by European Americans until after the United States achieved independence in the American Revolutionary War.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 18.3 square miles (47 km), of which 9.6 square miles (25 km) is land and 8.7 square miles (23 km), or 47.4%, is water.
Grosse Ile is the largest island on the Detroit River. The township of Grosse Ile is composed of twelve islands, although the community is most often identified with the main island (which residents simply refer to as “The Island”). Grosse Ile’s main island is technically composed of two islands. Grosse Ile Township is one of only seven municipalities in the state of Michigan to consist entirely of islands, including St. James Township, Drummond Township, Bois Blanc Township, Mackinac Island, Peaine Township, and Sugar Island Township.
The tip of the main island’s northern section is named Hennepin Point in honor of the 17th-century French explorer Father Louis Hennepin. It is uninhabited and separated from the remainder of the northern section by an unnamed canal that cannot be navigated in a power boat.
The southern section of the main island is separated from the northern section by the Thorofare Canal, which runs on a diagonal course from east to west connecting the main channel of the Detroit River with the Trenton Channel of the river. The southern section of the main island is connected by bridges to Elba Island, Meso Island (also known as Upper Hickory Island), Hickory Island, and Swan Island, which are all inhabited.
Not far from the shoreline of the main island in the river lie Calf Island, Celeron Island (charted as Tawas Island), Dynamite (also known as Powder House Island), Fox Island, Stony Island, and Sugar Island, which are all uninhabited. Stony and Celeron are owned by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Calf Island is owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a part of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. The other islands are privately owned. The low-lying Mamajuda Island is off the northeastern tip of Grosse Ile and is visible only during times of low water level.
Two bridges connect the main island to the mainland of Michigan. The bridge on the north end of the island is called the Grosse Ile Toll Bridge (off-white color). The bridge on the south end of the island is officially named the Wayne County Bridge (light green in color), but is commonly called the “Free Bridge” by locals.
The U.S. Census Bureau also defined Grosse Ile Township as a census-designated place (CDP) in the 2000 Census so that the community would appear on the list of places (like cities and villages) as well on the list of county subdivisions (like other townships). The final statistics for the township and the CDP were identical.
As of the census of 2000, there were 10,894 people, 4,122 households, and 3,293 families residing in the township. The population density was 1,133.9 persons per square mile (437.7/km²). There were 4,335 housing units at an average density of 451.2 per square mile (174.2/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 95.23% White, 0.36% African American, 0.34% Native American, 2.74% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.29% from other races, and 1.00% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.61% of the population.
There were 4,122 households out of which 34.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 72.8% were married couples living together, 5.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.1% were non-families. 17.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 2.99.
In the township the population was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 5.1% from 18 to 24, 23.4% from 25 to 44, 34.8% from 45 to 64, and 11.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.0 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $87,062, and the median income for a family was $96,226. Males had a median income of $71,777 versus $42,430 for females. The per capita income for the township was $42,150. About 1.9% of families and 2.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.4% of those under age 18 and 2.6% of those age 65 or over.
The township is considered to be among the safest communities in Michigan. It is highly affluent and is isolated in the river, with two bridges connecting it to the mainland.