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.
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.
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.
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 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.