Westland is located about 16 miles west of downtown Detroit. With an estimated population of 84,504 (2006), the city is one of the several Detroit suburbs that in recent years has undergone a renewal of community pride and economic development. The area that is now known as Westland was once the home of a Pattawatomi Indian village and many other tribes shared the vast wilderness surrounding the settlement with other Algonquian speaking communities.
Beginning in the early 19th century, European settlers began to move into the area to establish mills, farms and services aimed at supporting the burgeoning town. Before becoming "Westland," the area had several other names, the most recent being Nankin. In 1966, the citizens of Nankin voted to change the name of the township and become the city of Westland.
The city motto is "The Place To Be" and city residents take that distinction to heart with active natural resource projects, including restoring the Rouge River into an outdoor recreation resource. These efforts includes their annual Rouge River clean-up and various public education campaigns to support widespread citizen involvement. Along with natural resource protection and restoration, the Nankin Mill, originally built in 1863, converted to part of Ford Motor Company's village industries; the Mill has been restored and now houses the offices of the Wayne County Division of Parks and interpretive center. There are also plenty of recreational opportunities within the William P. Holliday Parkway along the tree-lined Edward Hines Drive. These combined efforts seem to have paid off with the red fox now thriving in many of the more than 20 square miles of green space among the Rouge River and its tributaries.
Within 30 minutes of the City of Westland are Wayne State University in Detroit, Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti and The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The University of Michigan-Dearborn, Henry Ford Community College, Schoolcraft Community College, and the western campus of Wayne County Community College are less than 10 miles away.
Westland Center is one of the country's original four regional shopping malls, and has anchored Westland's commercial district for more than 30 years. The center contains more than 130 stores in its surrounding retail base and draws consumers from a 20-mile radius, making Westland a premier "Destination Place." Anchor stores at Westland Center include Marshall Field's, J. C. Penney, Sears, Kohls, with specialty stores such as American Eagle, Eddie Bauer, and GAP.