Empire Michigan in Beautiful Leelanau County. The Village of Empire is located on the shore of Lake michigan in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park. The people of Empire
enjoy special events.
Situated 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, North Manitou and South Manitou islands, and Lake Michigan. Most Sleeping 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 children.
The Empire beach boasts the Robert H. Manning Memorial Lighthouse, which was built in 1991 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.
As of the census of 2000, there were 378 people, 187 households, and 104 families residing in the village. The population density was 328.5 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, 0.26% Asian, 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 couples 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.
For many years, the village was host to many servicemen and women stationed at Empire Air Force Station. 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 AFS.