Hamtramck was originally settled by German farmers, but Polish immigrants flooded into the area when the Dodge Brothers plant opened in 1914. Poles still make up a large proportion of the population. It is sometimes confused with Poletown, a traditional Polish neighborhood, which lies mostly in the city of Detroit and includes a small part of Hamtramck. As of the 2000 census, over 22% of Hamtramck's population is of Polish origin; in 1970, it was 90% Polish.

Over the past thirty years, a large number of immigrants from the Middle East (especially Yemen) and South Asia (especially Bangladesh) have moved to the city. As of the 2000 census, the city's foreign born population stood at 41.1% making it Michigan's most internationally diverse city.

1796 - Colonel Jean Francois Hamtramck took possession of Detroit after British troops evacuated. 
1798 - The Township of Hamtramck was established. 
1901 - Hamtramck was established as a village. 
1908 - Saint Florian's parish is the first Catholic church in Hamtramck 
1910 - Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company break ground for an automotive plant in Hamtramck; rapid influx of European immigrants begins. 
1914 - Dodge Brothers plant begins operations. 
1922 - Hamtramck is incorporated as a city to protect itself from annexation by Detroit; Peter C. Jezewski is the first mayor. 
1926 - St. Florian's present church edifice is built. 
1959 - Won Little League World Series of Baseball. 
1996 - Ordinance to Preserve Park Land passed by voters. 
2000 - Hamtramck goes into state receivership after running million dollar deficits and political in-fighting. 
2007 - Hamtramck is out of state receivership