Empire is a village in
County in the U.S. state of
population was 378 at the 2000 census
. The village is located
approximately 25 miles due west of Traverse City, Empire is nestled in the center of the Sleeping Bear
Dunes National Lakeshore. With the Empire Bluffs to the south and the
widely recognizable sand dunes of the National Lakeshore to the
north, the area possesses breathtaking vistas of the dunes,
Manitou and South Manitou islands, and Lake Michigan.
Bear Dunes panoramas portrayed on postcards are taken from a
walking trail which runs to the top of the Empire Bluffs. A wide
beach separates Lake Michigan from its close neighbor, South Bar
Lake. The much smaller South Bar Lake stays considerably warmer
than the big lake during the summer months, and is good for young
The Empire beach boasts the Robert H. Manning Memorial
Light, which was built in 1991 by O'Brien Brothers
Construction as a memorial to Robert H.
Manning, a life-long
resident of Empire and avid fisherman. Additionally, the beach
offers a famous antique anchor which was discovered by Douglas
Manning, son of Robert H. Manning, and Michelle Stryker in 1977.
Every year, the village of Empire celebrates the raising of the
anchor on the third Saturday in July.
The small village of Empire is located up a short hill, just a few
minutes walk from the beach.
According to the United
States Census Bureau
, the village has a total area of 1.2
square miles (3.2 km²), of which, 1.1 square miles
(3.0 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of
it (7.26%) is water. Empire is considered to be part of Northern Michigan
- M-72, which is one of three true
cross peninsular highways, that runs from Lake Michigan and Empire on the west to Lake Huron and Harrisville, Michigan|Harrisville]] on the
As of the census
of 2000, there were 378
people, 187 households, and 104 families residing in the village.
The population density
per square mile (126.9/km²). There were 276 housing units at an
average density of 239.8/sq mi (92.7/km²). The racial makeup
of the village was 98.94% White
0.26% Native American
, and 0.53% from two
or more races.
There were 187 households out of which 16.6% had children under the
age of 18 living with them, 47.1% were married
living together, 5.9% had a female householder with no
husband present, and 43.9% were non-families. 39.6% of all
households were made up of individuals and 16.6% had someone living
alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size
was 2.02 and the average family size was 2.70.
In the village the population was spread out with 15.6% under the
age of 18, 6.3% from 18 to 24, 19.3% from 25 to 44, 35.2% from 45
to 64, and 23.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age
was 49 years. For every 100 females there were 94.8 males. For
every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.9 males.
The median income for a household in the village was $39,722, and
the median income for a family was $52,813. Males had a median
income of $31,042 versus $24,250 for females. The per capita income
for the village was
$27,850. About 2.7% of families and 7.4% of the population were
below the poverty line
, including 7.8%
of those under age 18 and 6.0% of those age 65 or over.
U.S. Air Force (Empire Air Force Station)
years, the village was host to many servicemen and women stationed
at Empire Air
This was mainly a radar site during the Cold
War. Its main function was to protect the northern skies of the
United States from military threats. In its later years, the site
was turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration. Though much
of the site is gone now, there is a museum and historical marker in
the village. There is an annual reunion of members of Empire
- Empire historical center and museum
There are a number of recurring local events. A calendar is
- The Empire Winterfest, held each year in mid-February has been
celebrated for the past twenty-five years. Events include ice
skating, curling and the polar bear dip into South Bar Lake. There
is also a pool tournament held in the Empire Village Inn (known to
locals simply as "The V.I.") and a pancake breakfast put on by the
Empire Lion's Club in the Empire town hall.
- Empire is the home of the Dunegrass Festival. A three day music
festival featuring folk and bluegrass groups, as well as a
multitude of stands from local artisans and business owners.
- Empire Heritage Days (2nd weekend in October).
- Empire Asparagus Festival (3rd weekend in May—weekend before
Memorial Day weekend).
- Michigan Shore to Shore Riding and Hiking Trail.
- Empire museum.
Chamber of Commerce
- Clarke Historical Library, Central, Michigan
University, Bibliography for Leelanau County
- Bogue, Margaret. Around the Shores of Lake Michigan: A
Guide to Historic Sites. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press,
- Reed, Earl H. The Dune Country. Berrien
Springs, MI: Hardscrabble Books, 1979. [Reprint of 1916
- Ruchhoft, Robert H. Exploring North Manitou, South Manitou,
High and Garden Islands of the Lake Michigan Archipelago.
Cincinnati, OH: Pucelle Press, 1991.
- Wood, Mable C. Scooterville, U.S.A. Grand Rapids, MI: