What is the capital of Michigan?

Closed pedestrian bridge at Wentworth park over Grand river in Lansing downtown, Michigan
Closed pedestrian bridge at Wentworth park over Grand river in Lansing downtown, Michigan

Not too sure about your state capitals? Don’t worry. Plenty of people are in the same boat as you. That’s why we want to answer the question ‘what is the capital of Michigan?’.

The capital of Michigan is Lansing. Interestingly, Lansing hasn’t always been the state capital. In the early days, the honor went to Detroit. However, for a variety of reasons, Michigan’s state constitution required that the capital be moved.

Where Is The Capital of Michigan Located?

Where Is The Capital of Michigan Located
Where Is The Capital of Michigan Located

The city of Lansing can be found roughly in the center of Michigan (there is an important reason for this, which we will come to later on!).

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The metropolitan area of the city extends into three counties:

  • Ingham County
  • Eaton County
  • Clinton County

The majority of the capital is located in Ingham County. 

The city is located around 90 miles east of the city of Detroit, which is currently the largest city in Michigan. 

Brief History Of Lansing

Lansing, Michigan, USA at the Michigan State Capitol during the evening.
Lansing, Michigan, USA at the Michigan State Capitol during the evening.

The history of Lansing is actually rather minimal. It has only been a major player in the state of Michigan since it became the state capital. Before that, Lansing was tiny, and not many people would have heard of it.

The area was surveyed in 1790, although it wasn’t put up for sale until 1830. It wasn’t until the place actually became the state capital that people really started to pay attention to it. We will discuss how it became the state capital a little bit later on.

In 1847, when Lansing was made the state capital, it had just 20 people living there. There were not even that many roads that would take you into Lansing.

Of course, when it was made the state capital and the seat of the Michigan state government, the area rapidly grew. By 1859, there were around 3,000 people living there.

The main contributor towards Lansing becoming the area that it is today isn’t just because it was the state capital, though. Oh no. The city had the luck of really starting to expand upon the cusp of the industrial revolution, and a lot of the city now as built as the industrial revolution started to take hold.

The city is well-known for the various motor vehicle companies that got started there, some of which still have their operations in the area. This includes:

  • Olds Motor Vehicle Company
  • REO Motor Car Company
  • Clarkmobile

Early on in the 20th Century, much of the population of Michigan would have worked for one of these companies. Nowadays, the automobile is still a big business in the area. A lot of motor vehicle parts are manufactured. 

When Did Lansing Become The Capital Of Michigan?

Lansing, Michigan, USA downtown city skyline at twilight.
Lansing, Michigan, USA downtown city skyline at twilight.

Lansing became the state capital in 1847. Although, it certainly wasn’t without its detractors. Lansing was an incredibly small place at the time, and many in the state legislature (and the state overall) believed that there were much better locations that the capital of Michigan could be moved to.

Still, in 1847, Lansing became the state capital, and it has remained that way ever since.

Why Is Lansing The Capital Of Michigan?

It all starts with the War of 1812 when Canada (under the control of the British) captured Detroit. The city was in Canadian hands until 1813, then it was captured back. However, the government realized that having their state government so close to Canada probably wouldn’t be good. There was always the risk it would be captured again. Because of this, it was decided that the state capital had to move towards the center of Michigan a little. This way, it would have been a little bit better protected.

This isn’t the only reason why Lansing is the capital of Michigan, though. Many in the government felt that Detroit was having too big of an impact on the politics of the state, leaving residents in other towns and cities without a voice. This was probably true, at the time. Detroit was massive. The other places in Michigan…not so much.

So, why was Lansing chosen? Well, it was mostly selected out of frustration. Nobody could decide where the new state capital should be. So, in private, the government of Michigan chose Lansing. As we said before, at the time that it was selected, it had just 20 people living there.

Best Places To Visit In Lansing

Despite Lansing being a fairly small city, there is still plenty to explore in the area. Here are some of our highlights.

Potter Park Zoo

Who doesn’t love a good trip to the zoo? Potter Park Zoo has over 100 different species of animal. This includes some stunning black rhinos. Sure, it isn’t as big as Detroit Zoo, but it is tremendous to walk around and very relaxing.

Michigan State Capital

The state capital is where the government does its work. At regular times throughout the day, tours will take you through this absolutely stunning building. If you want to know more about how and why Lansing became the state capital, we are sure that the tremendous tour guides will let you know.

Michigan History Center

The Michigan History Center will introduce you more to the history of the state. There are plenty of exhibits here, and it is the Michigan History Center that holds the state’s archives.

Impression 5 Science Center

This is very much one for the children. In the Impression 5 Science Center, visitors can explore a variety of exhibits to see how certain science principles work in practice. 

R.E. Olds Transportation Museum

As you likely remember from earlier, R.E. Olds is one of the oldest automobile manufacturers in the state. This museum will introduce you to the history of the company. You can also feast your eyes upon some absolutely stunning vehicles. 

Old Town Lansing

Old Town will introduce you to some of the oldest buildings in the city. However, in recent years, Old Town Lansing has become a cultural hub. Plenty of art exhibits, restaurants, and other activities await you in Old Town Lansing.

See Also

Capital Cities 

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!