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Lansing, Michigan

HistoryEdit The first recorded person of European descent to spot the area that is now Lansing was explorer Hugh Heward in 1790 while canoeing the Grand River.[10]The land that was to become Lansing was surveyed as "Township 4 North Range 2 West" in February 1827 in what was then dense forest. It was the last of the county's townships to be surveyed, and the land was not offered for sale until October 1830.[11] There would be no roads to this area for decades to come. Grand River overlooking Lansing River Trail Bridge In the winter of 1835 and early 1836, two brothers from New York plotted the area now known as REO Town just south of downtown Lansing and named it "Biddle City". All of this land lay in a floodplain and was underwater during the majority of the year. Regardless, the brothers went back to Lansing, New York, to sell plots for the town that did not exist. They told the residents of the New York town that this new "city" had an area of 65 blocks, contained a church and also a public and academic square. A group of 16 men bought plots in the nonexistent city and upon reaching the area later that year found they had been scammed. Many in the group too disappointed to stay ended up settling around what is now metropolitan Lansing. Those who stayed quickly renamed the area "Lansing Township" in honor of their home village in New York.[12] The settlement of fewer than 20 people would remain dormant until the winter of 1847 when the state constitution required that the capital be moved fromDetroit to a more central and safer location in the interior of the state; many were concerned about Detroit's proximity to British-controlled Canada, which had captured Detroit in the War of 1812. The United States had recaptured the city in 1813, but these events led to the dire need to have the center of government relocated away from hostile British territory. There was also concern with Detroit's strong influence over Michigan politics, being the largest city in the state as well as the capital city.[12] During the multi-day session to determine a new location for the state capital, many cities, includingAnn Arbor, Marshall, and Jackson, lobbied hard to win this designation.[13] Unable to publicly reach a consensus because of constant political wrangling, the Michigan House of Representatives privately chose the Township of Lansing out of frustration. When announced, many present openly laughed that such an insignificant settlement was now the capital city of Michigan. Two months later, Governor William L. Greenly signed into law the act of the legislature officially making Lansing Township the state capital.[12] With the announcement that Lansing Township had been made the capital, the small village quickly transformed into the seat of state government. The legislature gave the settlement the temporary name of the "Town of Michigan". In April 1848, the legislature then gave the settlement the name of "Lansing".[14] Within months after it became the capital city, individual settlements began to develop along three key points along the Grand River in the township:[12] "Lower Village/Town", where present-day Old Town stands, was the oldest of the three villages. It was home to the first house built in Lansing in 1843 by pioneer James Seymour and his family. Lower Town began to develop in 1847 with the completion of the Franklin Avenue (now Grand River Avenue) covered bridge over the Grand River.[15]"Upper Village/Town", where present-day REO Town stands at the confluence of the Grand River and the Red Cedar River. It began to take off in 1847 when the Main Street Bridge was constructed over the Grand River. This village's focal point was the Benton House, a 4-story hotel which opened in 1848. It was the first brick building in Lansing and was later razed in 1900.[15] Michigan State Capitol "Middle Village/Town", where downtown Lansing now stands, was the last of the three villages to develop in 1848 with the completion of the Michigan Avenue bridge across the Grand River and the completion of the temporary capitol building which sat where Cooley Law School stands today on Capitol Avenue in between Allegan and Washtenaw Streets, and finally the relocation of the post office to the village in 1851. This area would grow to become larger than the other two villages up and down river. For a brief time the combined villages were referred to as "Michigan" but was officially named Lansing in 1848.[15] In 1859, the settlement having grown to nearly 3,000 and encompassing about 7 square miles (18 km2) in area was incorporated as a city. The boundaries of the original city were Douglas Avenue to the north, Wood and Regent streets to the east, Mount Hope Avenue to the south, and Jenison Avenue to the west. These boundaries would remain unchanged until 1916. Lansing began to grow steadily over the next two decades with the completion of the railroads through the city, a plank road, and the completion of the current capitol building in 1878. Most of what is known as Lansing today is the direct result of the city becoming an industrial powerhouse which began with the founding of Olds Motor Vehicle Company in August 1897. The company went through many changes, including a buyout, between its founding to 1905 when founder Ransom E. Oldsstarted his new REO Motor Car Company, which would last in Lansing for another 70 years. Olds would be joined by the less successful Clarkmobilearound 1903.[16] Over the next decades, the city would see itself transformed into a major American industrial center for the manufacturing of automobiles and parts, among other industries. The city continued to grow in area too. By 1956, the city had grown to 15 square miles (39 km2), and doubled in size over the next decade to its current size of roughly 33 square miles (85 km2).[17] Today, the city's economy is now diversified among government service, healthcare, manufacturing, insurance, banking, and education. Notable eventsEditElephant incidentEdit On September 26, 1963, a 12-year-old, 3,000-pound female dancing elephant named Rajje (alternately reported as Raji and Little Rajjee, among other variations) rebelled against her trainer during a performance in a shopping-center circus near what was then Logan Street and Holmes Road in Lansing, and escaped into the streets, aggravated by the frenzied pursuit of nearly 4,000 local residents. The incident ended with the shooting of the elephant by Lansing police.[18][19] Provoked by the growing crowd, Rajje's rampage took her through the men's wear, sporting goods and gift departments of a localArlan's discount store before leading police on a two-mile chase in which she knocked down and injured a 67-year-old man, tried to move a car, and caused thousands of dollars in damage before being subdued. Life Magazine quoted Rajje's trainer, William Pratt, as shouting at the scene, "Damn these people [...] They wouldn't leave her alone."[18] The incident was widely reported, including a photospread in Life.[18] While the Lansing State Journal coverage stressed the danger of the incident,[20] the Detroit Free Press noted that witnesses cried out "Murderers! Murderers!" as police fired eight shots.[21] Author Nelson Algren cites the injustice and sad end of the pursuit of "Raji, the Pixie-Eared Elephant" in continuity with the ambush of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in his introduction to a 1968 biography of the outlaws.[22] Then teenage Lansing residents who had goaded the elephant on recalled the incident with sober regret in a local newspaper retrospective in 2011.[20] TimelineEdit Lansing in 1890 Historical populationCensusPop.%±1850—1860136.6%187070.5%188058.7%189057.5%190025.8%191089.4%192083.6%193036.8%19400.5%195017.0%196017.0%197021.9%1980−0.8%1990−2.4%2000−6.4%2010−4.1%114,620[23]0.3%U.S. Decennial Census[24] Michigan Supreme Court at the Hall of Justice, opened in 2002 1825 – Lansing Township is surveyed.1836 – A pair of New York speculators plot and market a non-existent city known as "Biddle City". The New Yorkers that bought into the idea arrive in Lansing to discover that the plots they had bought are located in a marsh, and are underwater. Some of the pioneers stay, but develop a village in what is now Old Town Lansing a mile north of the non-existent "Biddle City".1847 – The state capital moves from Detroit to Lansing Township.1855 – Michigan State University is founded as theAgricultural College of the State of Michigan.1859 – The city of Lansing is officially incorporated with about 3,000 citizens inside 7.5 square miles (19 km2).1879 – New State Capitol dedicated. The structure cost $1,510,130.1881 – Michigan Millers Insurance Company founded.1883 - Judge Rollin H. Person begins his private law practice in Lansing after serving as a district judge. The firm, known today as Fraser Trebilcock, plays an integral role in the development of the Lansing business community, when firm attorneys assist Ransom E. Olds in obtaining property for the first Olds Motorworks in a facility in Lansing.[25]1897 – Ransom E. Olds drives his first car down a Lansing street. Later that year he founds the Olds Motor Vehicle Company, which would become theOldsmobile division of General Motors in 1908. He was also the founder of the REO Motor Car Companyin 1904, both headquartered in Lansing.1904 – The "most extensive flood in 135 years of local history" causes the Grand River to overflow its banks on March 24–27, leading to major damage and one death.[26] Bridges at Logan Street, Kalamazoo Street, Cedar Street and Mt. Hope Road are all washed away. The Kalamazoo Street bridge lodges against the Michigan Avenue bridge; it is later salvaged and re-erected at Kalamazoo Street.[27]1910 – The population of the city nearly doubles from the 1900 census to 31,229.1912 – The Accident Fund Insurance Company of America founded.1916 – Auto-Owners Insurance Company founded.1929 – The Lansing Symphony Orchestra founded.1940 – Lansing's population stagnates, only rising by 356 over the decade to 78,753.1954 – Frandor Mall opens – first in the area, and second in the state.1956 – The city reaches 15 square miles (39 km2) in size.1957 – Lansing Community College founded.1959 - New City Hall and Police Department buildings are opened.1959 - Lansing's Centennial is celebrated.1960 – The city's population finally breaks the 100,000 mark at 107,807.1961 – Jackson National Life Insurance Companyfounded.1965 – The city reaches 33.3 square miles (86.2 km2) in size.1970 – Lansing reaches its peak population of 131,546.1972 – The Thomas M. Cooley Law Schoolfounded.1980 – Lansing's population declines for the first time, losing 989 to hit 130,414.1989 – The Library of Michigan and Historical Center near the Capitol Complex are dedicated.1992 – The Michigan State Capitol completes an extensive renovation to restore it to its original grandeur.1998 – Mayor David Hollister signs a 425 Agreement with Alaiedon Township in September to facilitate the development of the headquarters of Jackson National Life Insurance Company.1999 – Mayor David Hollister signs a 425 Agreement with Meridian Township in November to facilitate the development of the Governor's Collection/College Fields upscale housing development and golf course.2000 – Lansing's population experiences its greatest drop in its history, falling over 6% over the preceding decade to 119,128.2001 – GM opens new assembly plant, Lansing Grand River Assembly. Builds the Cadillac CTS, STS,SRX and V-Series. The architecture of the assembly plant resembles a high-tech research facility instead of a traditional factory.2002 – The Hall of Justice (Michigan Supreme Court building) at the west end of the Capitol Complex is dedicated.2004 – Last Oldsmobile rolls off the assembly line at Lansing Car Assembly on April 29. This same year the Thomas M. Cooley Law School becomes the largest law school in the nation.2005 – Mayor Tony Benavides signs a series of three 425 Agreements with Delta Township and General Motors facilitating the development General Motors' Lansing Delta Township Assembly Plant.2006 – GM opens a state-of-the-art facility in nearby Delta Charter Township. As with the 2001 assembly plant built in Lansing, the Delta plant resembles a high-tech research facility and not a traditional factory.2008 – Accident Fund Insurance Company of America announces the renovation of the Ottawa Street Power Station and addition of modern buildings connected by an atrium for their new headquarters.2009 – The city's Sesquicentennial is celebrated.2009 – Auto-Owners Insurance Co. announces it will invest $105.3 million into expanding its Lansing headquarters and adding 800 new jobs.[28]2010 – The Eyde Development Company announces they will be spending $22–$24 million to renovate the landmark Knapp's Building in downtown Lansing.[29]2010 – Kiplinger names Lansing one of the "10 Great Cities for Young Adults".[30]

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