Royal Oak developed initially as a suburb after Detroit boomed as a major industrial city. People began to move to the suburbs for newer housing, especially after World War II. It had a compact, traditional street-side shopping district, which runs along Main Street and Washington Avenue downtown. During the 2000s, this area was redeveloped with numerous new businesses, and is now considered a trendy, upscale, urban-chic district, featuring restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. A number of mixed-use high-rise developments have been constructed — mostly condo "lofts" with retail and office space on the lower levels.
Points of interest include the Detroit Zoo, a major regional tourist attraction,
the William Beaumont Hospital, the Royal Oak Music Theatre, the Main Art Theatre,
the Baldwin Theatre, Mark Ridley's Comedy Castle, Emagine Theater, and shops,
cafes, and restaurants. The main offices of Hour Detroit media, which publishes
Metro Detroit's lifestyle magazine, are located in the city.