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East Lansing is a city in the U.S. state of Michiganmarker. The city is located directly east of Lansing, Michiganmarker, the state's capital. Most of the city is within Ingham Countymarker, though a small portion lies in Clinton Countymarker. The population was 46,525 at the time of the 2000 census. It is best known as the home of Michigan State Universitymarker.


The settlement of East Lansing began around 1847, the same year nearby Lansingmarker was made the capital of the state of Michiganmarker. Downtown East Lansing was an important junction of two major Native American trails: the Okemah Road, and the Park Lake Trail. By 1850, the Lansing and Howell Plank Road Company was established to connect a toll road to the Detroit and Howell Plank Road, improving travel between Detroitmarker and Lansingmarker, which cut right through what is now East Lansing. The toll road was finished in 1853, and included seven tollhouses between Lansingmarker and Howellmarker.

Michigan State Universitymarker was founded in 1855 and established in what is now East Lansing in 1857. For the first four decades, the students and faculty lived almost entirely on the College campus. A few commuted from Lansing, and that number increased when a streetcar line was built in the 1890s, but there were few places to live in the then-rural area immediately around the campus.

That started to change in 1887, when professors William J. Beal and Rolla C. Carpenter created Collegeville, along what is now Harrison Road and Center and Beal Streets, north of Michigan Avenue. Few faculty were attracted to the location, and the first residents were "teamsters and laborers". In 1898, the College Delta subdivision (including what is now Delta Street) had the support of the College itself, which provided utilities, and several professors built homes there (one of which survives today at 243 W. Grand River Ave.). Other subdivisions followed.

At that time, the post office address was "Agricultural College, Michigan". A school district encompassing the nascent community was created in 1900. In 1907, incorporation as a city was proposed under the name "College Park"; the legislature approved the charter but changed the name to "East Lansing".

The city charter in 1907 prohibited the possession, sale, or consumption of alcoholic beverages, and East Lansing was a "dry" city until voters modified the charter provision in 1968.


Downtown East Lansing at night overlooking Albert Street.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.25 square miles (29.15 km²), of which, 11.24 square miles (23.38 km²) of it is land and 0.02 km² (0.009 sq mi) is water, as of 2000. Along with any annexations, this also takes into account any 425 Agreements initiated by the city prior to 2000.

Since 1998, East Lansing has expanded its borders through the use of 425 Agreements. The city is currently in three 425 Agreements with Bath Townshipmarker, DeWitt Townshipmarker, and Meridian Townshipmarker, and has effectively added thousands of acres of land to its border.

  • East Lansing and DeWitt Townshipmarker entered into two 425's in 1998 and 2001, respectively, which involved nearly of land. The agreement stipulates that East Lansing gains full control of the land after 33 years.
  • East Lansing and Bath Townshipmarker entered into a 425 Agreement in June 2002 involving of land. The agreement stipulates that East Lansing gains full control of the land after 100 years.
  • East Lansing and Meridian Townshipmarker entered into a 425 Agreement in November 2002 involving of land. The agreement stipulates that the Meridian Township residents get to decide the fate of the land after 100 years.

The city has also made use of annexation of surrounding township lands in recent years. It annexed the of the Four Winds Golf Course in Meridian Township in 2001, and another of the township in 2006. The city also annexed from DeWitt Townshipmarker the land that is currently the East Lansing Soccer Complex. As of 2006, East Lansing has increased its size to .


The city's downtown area is centered around Grand River Avenue, a wide tree-lined boulevard that evolved out of the 19th century plank road that connected Lansingmarker to Detroitmarker. Grand River Avenue serves as dividing line between the Michigan State Universitymarker campus and the rest of the city. Grand River Ave. is lined with many college-oriented businesses, such as bar, tanning salons, coffee shop, head shops, restaurants (many dine al fresco) and bookstores. Immediately north of downtown are predominantly student neighborhoods. Further north of that is the residential part of the city, which is much like any other suburb. At the very northern tier of the city are several new student-oriented apartment complexes. These new developments are far from the university, but their lower property tax rates allow them to offer students more amenities for their monthly rent.


As of the census of 2000, there were 46,525 people, 14,390 households, and 5,094 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,136.6 per square mile (1,596.7/km²). There were 15,321 housing units at an average density of 1,362.2/sq mi (525.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 80.91% White, 7.40% African American, 0.33% Native American, 8.21% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.95% from other races, and 2.12% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.69% of the population.

There were 14,390 households out of which 16.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.6% were married couples living together, 5.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 64.6% were non-families. 36.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.82.

In the city the population was spread out with 9.0% under the age of 18, 58.6% from 18 to 24, 16.4% from 25 to 44, 9.9% from 45 to 64, and 6.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 22 years. For every 100 females there were 92.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,217, and the median income for a family was $61,985 (these figures had risen to $29,885 and $81,941 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $43,767 versus $30,556 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,333. About 11.0% of families and 34.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.8% of those under age 18 and 3.7% of those age 65 or over.


East Lansing has a Council-manager government, where the city council appoints one of its own as mayor, and another of its own as mayor pro tem — a city council member with extra ceremonial duties, but who chairs council meetings in the mayor's absence. The city council consists of 5 at-large council members who are elected in non-partisan elections to 4-year terms in November of odd-numbered years. The city council chooses the city manager, the city's chief administrative officer. The manager is appointed by, and answers to, the city council.

An important aspect of East Lansing's government is its system of commissions. The commission members are ordinary East Lansing citizens who are appointed by the city council and advised by members of the city staff. Commissions may propose or review policies in their bailiwicks and make recommendations to the city council. Major East Lansing commissions include those for Planning, Housing, Transportation, and Parks and Recreation. Other commissions and boards that also involve active engagement of ordinary citizens also play a role in East Lansing's governance.

The Michigan State Police has its headquarters in East Lansing.


Higher education

Michigan State Universitymarker, a member of the Big Ten Conference, is the largest education institution in the State of Michigan (8th largest in the United States), reflecting East Lansing's history as a college town. MSU has more than 200 programs of study including two in human medicine (M.D. and D.O.) and one veterinary medicine school (D.V.M.), a law school, and numerous PhD programs. Nearby Lansing is home to several other colleges, including Thomas M. Cooley Law School which is the largest law school in the United States (by attendees), Davenport University, and Lansing Community College.

Primary and secondary schools

This city is covered by the East Lansing Public Schools district, which has an enrollment of just over 3,400 students in grades K-12. The district also includes small portions of neighboring Lansing, Lansing Township, and Meridian Township. The district consists of six elementary schools, one middle school, and East Lansing High School. One fifth of the district's students come from outside of East Lansing through Michigan's Schools of Choice program.


Amtrak, Indian Trails, and Greyhound all provide intercity rail and bus services at the East Lansing Amtrak depotmarker, which is located at 1240 South Harrison Road in walking distance from the Michigan State Universitymarker main campus, although both on- and off-campus public transportation serves the depot. Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) provides public bus transit throughout East Lansing, Lansingmarker, and surrounding areas. Three major interstates and one U.S. Highway serve the East Lansing area including: I-96, I-69, I-496, and US 127. The Lansing Capital City Airportmarker in nearby Lansing offers a number of direct domestic flights as far as Las Vegasmarker; connections between East Lansing and the airport are offered by CATA (with a transfer in downtown Lansing); rental cars are also available at the airport. Bus transportation is offered between East Lansing and Jacksonmarker, Ann Arbormarker, and Detroit Metro Airportmarker eight times daily by Michigan Flyer. The Northern Tier Trail is a shared-use pedestrian and bicycle path system connecting some parts of the northern half of the city; the Lansing River Trail begins on the campus of Michigan State Universitymarker and extends west into downtown Lansing and then north towards the airport. Finally, two class one freight railroads serve East Lansing including Canadian National Railway (CN) and CSX Transportation (CSXT).


Town/gown relations

Over the last ten years, partnerships between the City of East Lansing and Michigan State University (MSU) have been strengthened in an effort to better support both sides of the shared community. An intentional focus on the assets of a blended community and the shared strength of collaborations has been at the heart of university-community work.Anecdotally, many would say the environment and relationships within neighborhoods have improved since days passed. The results of several recent surveys support what the community has observed through first-hand experience:
  • According to a survey conducted by the Department of Residence Life of first-year students in January 2009, 81.3 percent of students describe the relationship between MSU students and permanent residents as excellent or good and 79.4 percent say their general impression of the East Lansing community is very positive or somewhat positive.
  • According to a Division of Student Affairs survey conducted in June 2008 regarding student perceptions, 86 percent of students say they strongly agree or agree that East Lansing is a welcoming community for students.
  • According to a community survey conducted by the City in September 2008, 55 percent of residents describe the relationship between students and permanent residents in East Lansing as excellent or good. Conversely, in 1998, only 28 percent described relations as excellent or good. The survey also revealed that 10 percent of residents named student-resident relations as the most important problem facing East Lansing today. Conversely, in 1998, 30 percent named it as their top concern.
Collaboration is a valuable and necessary component of the community. Progress has been made and more growth lies ahead. Together, East Lansing and MSU provide residents, both student and non-student, with a setting brimming with opportunities, inviting of community participation and welcoming of its citizens.


From March 29 to April 2, 2006, East Lansing hosted the USA Hockey National Tournament. The age group that competed contained players from the U-14 Tier 2 division. States were represented with teams from Massachusetts, Michigan, Alaska, Nebraska, Florida, California, Connecticut, Indiana, New York,and Pennsylvania. In the end, The LA Hockey Club representing California won.


In 2007, the City of East Lansing celebrated its Centennial. The celebration began in January 2007 with a kick-off press conference at the Marriott Hotel in downtown East Lansing. Events through out the year included an old fashion concert, a birthday party, and a historic homes tour. A fireworks show took place in August, along with many more events throughout the year. With Michigan State University's Sesquicentennial ice cream flavor such a huge success, the City of East Lansing contracted Melting Moments ice cream shop to develop a Centennial ice cream flavor. All downtown businesses were encouraged to take part in Centennial festivities. The Peoples Church on West Grand River Avenue also celebrated its 100th birthday in 2007.

Residents were asked to submit their favorite stories, pictures and memories on the Centennial website, which includes photographs dating back to the early 1900s. The website lists all Centennial events and includes a complete history of the city. Fun East Lansing facts can also be found, along with a list of famous East Lansing residents. Michigan State University and the City of East Lansing partnered on many of the events.

Points of interest

On campus

Off campus

  • Hannah Community Center (built as East Lansing High School, and later used as a middle school) with the White Performing Arts Theatre.
  • East Lansing Public Library
  • The "Habitrail", or Hamster Cage, or Gerbil Cage is a large multicolored parking structure near campus that resembles a Habitrail home for pet rodents. The controversial design resulted from the city's instructions to the architect that the building be "festive" and have "no brick".
  • Scene metrospacemarker, the city sponsored art gallery located in the ground floor of the multicolored parking structure.
  • East Lansing Family Aquatic Center
  • Trowbridge railroad junction (located near Trowbridge Road) and the nearby Amtrak depot are popular spots with railfans for train watching. At Trowbridge, the busy Grand Trunk Western Railroad line connecting Chicagomarker to Torontomarker intersects the former Pere Marquette Railroad (now Conrail line from Detroitmarker to Grand Rapidsmarker.
  • El Azteco, a local Mexican restaurant noted for its outdoor rooftop dining. El Azteco is one of East Lansing's longest-lasting establishments, celebrating its 30th anniversary in August 2006. Many older MSU alumni remember when it was located under Campbell's Smoke Shop on M.A.C., but in 1991 the restaurant moved to its present location at 215 Ann St. Arturo Santa Cruz is the owner. El Azteco has employed some people of note, including State Rep. Fred Miller and NPR journalist Sarah Hulett.

Outside East Lansing


Local events

Notable people

See also


  1. James D. Towar, History of the City of East Lansing, 1933.
  2. Jim van Ravensway, Director of East Lansing Planning & Community Development Staff, information received via email, 16 July, 2007
  3. East Lansing city, Michigan, 2005-2007 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates, United States Census Bureau
  4. " Contact MSP." Michigan State Police. Retrieved on October 29, 2009.
  5. "Pecatonica Problem Solvers are Grand Champions," Wisconsin State Journal, June 15, 2009.

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