Lansing – Michigan’s Capital City, and Much More

by David Siwik

General Motors Grand River Assembly Plant, downtown Lansing
General Motors Grand River Assembly Plant, downtown Lansing.  Photo by David Siwik

Lansing is Michigan’s Capital City.  Established by an act of the State Legislature in 1847, it became an incorporated municipality in 1849.  Growth through the nineteenth century was steady, but would be eclipsed by the industrialization of the city as Lansing became a center for automobile production in the twentieth century.  In the twenty first century, the city and greater Lansing area have a diverse economy, spread out between state government, education, manufacturing and services.

Cooley_Gardens_Lansing
Cooley Gardens, downtown Lansing.  Photo by David Siwik

Lansing is a city with many landscapes; typically Midwestern USA, industrial, post-industrial, beautiful in parts and unpretentious in others, Lansing is a Michigan city and in many ways a fitting capital for the state.

Boji Tower, Downtown Lansing. Photo by David Siwik.
Interstate-496 (the Olds Freeway) in downtown Lansing
Interstate-496 in downtown Lansing.  Photo by David Siwik

Most of Lansing’s buildings and infrastructure are post-1880, as this is when the city’s industrial boom and thus great population growth began.

Downtown Lansing looking south at Interstate-496 and Capitol Avenue
Downtown Lansing looking north at Interstate-496 and Capitol Avenue.  Photo by David Siwik
Downtown Lansing looking west over the Grand River
Downtown Lansing looking west over the Grand River.  Photo by David Siwik

Lansing was founded along the Grand River which meanders through the city.  In the nineteenth and much of the twentieth centuries, the river was mostly used for industrial purposes and overlooked as a focal point of the city’s urban environment or a source of recreation.  Now people are starting to rediscover the river that flows through town.

Old Town Lansing, the Grand River
Old Town Lansing, the Grand River.  Photo by David Siwik

Old Town was one of the original commercial and residential districts.  Derelict and drained of much of its capital ca. 1980, the last 20 years have seen a transformation as people rediscover and re-purpose this town within a city.

Old Town Lansing, looking east down Grand River Avenue
Old Town Lansing, looking east down Grand River Avenue.  Photo by David Siwik