The Borders of Dearborn: A History and Explanation

Inspired by some recent scholarship on Detroit, this virtual exhibit seeks to explain the history of Dearborn’s city boundaries and elaborate on reasons for their location.

The modern boundaries of Dearborn were formed by a combination of annexations by Detroit, old township boundaries, and expansions of the original village of Dearborn.

1970s Bank of Dearborn Map showing Dearborn and Dearborn boundaries at the time. Borders along the River Rouge have been adjusted since.

Dearborn’s borders were drawn to follow longstanding township section lines and the boundaries of private claims. Those private claims were former French style ribbon farm properties whose boundaries were permanently established shortly after the United States took control over the Detroit area. In the Dearborn area, these properties were all centered along the Rouge. Away from the River Rouge, property was surveyed into the township and range system after 1815.

Ribbon Farm / Private Claim boundaries within the modern City of Dearborn
Dearborn’s borders roughly drawn on an 1876 map

Explore pages of this exhibit to learn more about the city’s individual boundaries.