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Michigan (MI): State Guide and Fun Facts

When did Michigan become a state?
January 26, 1837

Who was the first explorer in Michigan?
Etienne Brule

First Native American settlers:
Ojibwe, Menominee, Potawatomi, Sauk, Fox, Kickapoo and Miami tribes

Square Miles:

US Rank:

State Flower:
Apple Blossom

State Bird:

State Motto:
If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.

Capital City

Lansing, Michigan was first settled in 1835 by New Yorkers that were mapping new areas of the Midwest. These men named the area “Biddle City.” In 1847, ten years after Michigan became a state, the capital was moved to Lansing from the original capital of Detroit, as government officials were afraid that Detroit’s proximity to Canada put the city as risk for capture by the British. In 1855, Michigan State University was founded in the city of Lansing. Even with the growth and the label as state capital, the city only have 3,000 residents in 1859. The population grew very slowly, and the 2009 US Census Bureau estimated that the total population of Lansing Michigan was 113,802.
The primary economy drivers in Lansing are government, education, insurance industry and automobile manufacturing.

What is Michigan famous for?

1. Automobile Manufacturing
Detroit Michigan is known around the world as the US capital of automobile manufacturing. The history of this industry dates back to key automobile pioneers Ransome Eli Olds and Henry Ford. Olds began to build motors and engines in Lansing Michigan in 1885. By the turn of the century, he and his father had laid the groundwork for the first assembly line for auto manufacturing. In 1901, he fabricated 425 of his first car, the “Curved Dash Olds.” Henry Ford was soon to follow, opening the first conveyor belt assembly line at his Ford factory in Highland Park, Michigan in 1914. By 1927, Ford had produced 15 million Model T automobiles.

2. Motown Records
Motown Record Corporation was founded in 1960 by Berry Gordy Jr. He named the company after the city of Detroit’s nickname of “motor town.” During the tumultuous time for racial integration in the US, Motown Records was an open door to the popularization of soul and pop music by African Americans. The style, which came to be known as the Motown Sound gained increasing popularity among all races and cultures throughout the US, paving the way for future generations of black performers. Today, the Motown Historical Museum in Detroit Michigan attracts visitors every year to educate people on how it all began. Berry Gordy Jr. was perhaps one of the most influential members of the Civil Rights movement, and he did it without preaching and protesting. His medium was music, and he persevered because he needed a way to express himself in a time when soul music had no outlet.

3. Michigan State Football
Michigan State University has one of the best college football teams in the United States. They compete in the NCAA Division I-A and are part of the Big Ten Conference (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Indiana University, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University and University of Wisconsin-Madison). The main rivals of the Michigan State Spartans are Penn State and University of Michigan.

The Spartans’ records include an all time record of 625-425-44, six national championship titles (in 1951, 1952, 1955, 1957, 1965 and 1966) and seven conference titles (in 1953, 1965, 1966, 1978, 1987, 1990 and 2010).

What is Michigan’s economy?

1. Agriculture
The agricultural sector in Michigan includes key livestock and crops. The largest percentage of livestock raised in the state are cattle that are raised to provide milk for the dairy processing industry. Michigan is the second largest dairy producing state in the country. Other livestock include beef cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys.
The most important crops grown in the state are greenhouse and nursery products, corn, apples, blueberries and cherries.

2. Manufacturing
Michigan is known throughout the Untied States as being the automobile capital of the country. The market was hit hard during the economic recession that began in 2007. The state’s main manufacturing areas produced automobiles, trucks, SUVs, airplanes, boats, buses and vans. Some plants have gone out of business, while others were forced to lay off most of their workforces.

Other manufacturing industries in Michigan include the production of machinery, metal products and sporting goods.

3. Mining
Michigan is a large producer of natural gas, iron ore and Petroleum. Minnesota is the country’s largest iron ore mining area, while Michigan ranks second. The state also mines an enormous amount of limestone, as it is home to one of the world’s largest quarries.


Michigan Historical Landmarks

1. Calumet Historic District
The Calumet Mining Company was founded in 1864 when Edwin Hilbert discovered copper in the area. He established the Hulbert Mining Company, the parent company for Calumet Mining Company and Hecla Mining Company. By 1870, the mines were the largest producers of copper in the United States. Today, the Calumet Historic District is nearly abandoned, while the town of Calumet had a population of just under 900 residents in 2000.

2. Alden Dow House and Studio
Alden Dow was an architect during the early and mid 20th century. He studied engineering at the University of Michigan, and architecture at Columbia University. After graduating with his degree in architecture in 1931, Dow studied for a season with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin, his home in Wisconsin. After working with Wright, Dow was inspired to open his own architecture firm, and began work on the design of his house. The home was located in Midland, Michigan and its design became renowned when he won the Diplome de Grand Prix at the Paris International Exposition in 1937.
The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 29, 1989, the same day it was designated as a National Historic Landmark. It is not privately owned currently, and is open to the public for tours.

3. Fisher Building
The Fisher Building was commissioned by the Fisher Family after they sold their company Fisher Body to General Motors in the early 20th century. The building was designed by Albert Kahn Associates, and the project architect was Joseph N. French. Construction was completed in 1928 in the Art Decostyle, characterized by soaring and daunting verticality, geometric ornamentation and a stepped building share. Like many buildings in New York from the same era, the Fisher Building had a first tier of about 15 stories. After this number of floors, the building footprint becomes smaller and rises by about 10 more stories. The footprint becomes smaller once again and rises to its final height. The type of construction as mandated in some cities in the country that were building skyscrapers to make sure that natural light still reached the city streets below, however when it became required in some places, it became an aesthetic feature in others who copied the originals. As such, the stepped design became characteristic of Art Deco buildings that were designed in the 1920s and 1930s.

The Fisher Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 14, 1980.