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Monroe is a city in the U.S. state of Michiganmarker. The population was 22,076 at the 2000 census. It is the largest city and county seat of Monroe Countymarker. The city is bordered on the south by Monroe Charter Townshipmarker, but both are politically independent. The city is located approximately north of Toledomarker, Ohiomarker and south of Detroitmarker. The United States Census Bureau lists Monroe as the core city in the Monroe Metropolitan Area, which has a total population of 152,949. Monroe itself is officially part of the Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint CSA, and Monroe is also sometimes included as a northerly extension of the Toledo Metropolitan Area. Monroe's 2007 population estimate of 21,528 ranks the city as the 50th largest incorporated city in Michigan.

Settled as early as 1784, Monroe was platted in 1817 and was named after then-President James Monroe. Today, the city has a strong sense of historic preservationism and is remembered for the Battle of Frenchtown during the War of 1812, as well as being the childhood residence of George Armstrong Custer and other members of his family, including his wife Elizabeth Bacon and brother Boston Custer. The city has numerous historic museums and landmarks. Monroe is also recognized as the home of the La-Z-Boy world headquarters.


The area was settled by Indian tribes (specifically the Potawatomi) hundreds of years before the French reached the area for the first time in the late seventeenth-century. Robert de LaSalle claimed the area for New France after his 1679 exhibition on the Griffon. In 1784, Francis Navarre was given a portion of land south of the River Raisinmarker by the Potawatomi. Frenchtownmarker was settled shortly thereafter as the third European settlement in the state. Around the same time, the Sandy Creek Settlement was established just north of Frenchtown by Joseph Porlier Benec.

The area, because of its close location to Detroitmarker, was of strategic importance during the War of 1812, especially after Detroit fell to the enemy British during the Siege of Detroit in August 1812. The area of Frenchtown served as a stepping stone for the American forces to retake Detroit, and this led to the devastating Battle of Frenchtown in January 1813. The American forces camped in the area in an attempt to move to retake Detroit when they met British and Indian opposition near the shores of the River Raisin on January 18. Initially, the Americans, under the command of James Winchester, fought off the British and Indians in what was later dubbed the First Battle of the River Raisin. However, four days later, the Americans were counterattacked in the same location. Many of the Americans were injured from the previous battle, and their escape routes were cut off. The British, under Henry Proctor, and their Indian allies slaughtered almost 400 American soldiers in what would later be known as the Battle of Frenchtown (or the Second Battle of the River Raisin). The surviving Americans who were unable to retreat became prisoners of war, but some were later slaughtered by Indian forces in an incident dubbed the River Raisin massacre. Today, the site of the battle houses a small visitor center and the recently authorized River Raisin National Battlefield Parkmarker.

The area of Frenchtown was renamed and incorporated as the village of Monroe in honor of President James Monroe, who visited the Michigan Territory in 1817. In the same year, the city of Monroe was named the county seat of the newly-created Monroe Countymarker. Monroe re-incorporated as a city in 1837. Monroe is known for the residency of United States Major General George Armstrong Custer (1839–1876) during his childhood. While he was not born in Monroe, Custer spent much of his boyhood living in Monroe, where he later met and married Elizabeth Bacon (1842–1933) during the Civil War in 1864. In 1910, President William Howard Taft and the widowed Elizabeth Bacon unveiled an equestrian statue of Custer (George Armstrong Custer Equestrian Monumentmarker) that now rests at the corner of Elm Street and Monroe Street. Custer’s namesake is also honored as street names, various historic markers, and the Custer Airportmarker. The city is also known as the home of La-Z-Boy, which was founded in Monroe in 1927. Their world headquarters are located in Monroe on Telegraph Road. In 1974, the Monroe Power Plantmarker, currently the fourth largest coal firing plant in North America, opened. At 805 feet (245 m) tall, the dual smokestacks are the visible from over 25 miles away and are among the tallest structures in the state.

Landmarks and attractions


In the census of 2000, there were 22,076 people, 8,594 households, and 5,586 families in the city. The population density was 2,440.9 per square mile (942.9/km²). There were 9,107 housing units at an average density of 1,007.0/sq mi (389.0/km²). The racial makeup was 90.87% White, 5.07% African American, 0.24% Native American, 0.84% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.90% from other races, and 2.06% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.76% of the population.

There were 8,594 households of which 33.6% had children under 18 living with them, 46.6% were married couples living together, 14.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.0% were non-families. 30.7% of all households were up of individuals and 12.7% had someone living alone 65 years or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size 3.10.

In the city the population was 26.9% under 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 20.1% from 45 to 64, and 15.0% who 65 or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 90.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $41,810, and the median income for a family $51,442. Males had a median income of $42,881 versus $25,816 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,948. 9.0% of families and 12.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.0% of those under 18 and 16.1% of those 65 or over.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.1 square miles (26.1 km²), of which 9.0 square miles (23.4 km²) of it is land and 1.0 square miles (2.6 km²) of it (10.14%) is water. Monroe sits at the lowest elevation in state of Michigan, which is the shores of Lake Eriemarker at 571 feet (174 meters). The average elevation of the city of Monroe is 594 feet (182 meters). The Port of Monroe is the only Michigan port on Lake Erie, and Sterling State Parkmarker is the only of Michigan's 98 state parks located on or near Lake Erie. The River Raisinmarker and Sandy Creek travel through Monroe, although these waterways are unnavigable.

Climate and weather

Monroe lies in the humid continental climate zone. Monroe only receives an average of 28.5 inches (72.4 cm) of snow a year— the lowest average snowfall for any large city in the state. July is the warmest month with an average high temperature of 84 °F (29 °C), and January is the coldest month with an average low temperature of 16 °F (-9 °C). Monroe does not normally have extremely hot or cold temperatures. On average, the temperature only drops below 0 °F (-18 °C) a couple of times during a winter season, and it is even rarer for the temperature to rise above 100 °F (38 °C) during the summer. The coldest recorded temperature was -21 °F (-29 °C) on February 5, 1918. The highest recorded temperature was 106 °F (41 °C) on July 24, 1934, with another equal temperature recorded on one occasion many years earlier.

Monroe was hit unusually hard by the Great Blizzard of 1978, in which several feet of snow and blowing snow drifts many feet higher paralyzed the city. The city is largely free from lake-effect snow due to its location far east of Lake Michiganmarker and at the western end of Lake Eriemarker. Typically, schools in the area are only closed around 4–5 days a school year, in which an extra day is added to the end of the year for every two snow days. Dangerously low wind chill factors are one of the main reasons for such cancellations— one such example being January 16, 2009 when temperatures reached a near record low of -15 °F (-26 °F) with a recorded wind chill factor of -36 °F (-38°C).

Severe weather events are very rare. Monroe has experienced a total of 28 tornadoes in the past 60 years. Infrequent waterspouts can also be seen out on Lake Erie. Many tornadoes have been a part of major outbreaks, and none have directly impacted the heavily populated downtown area. 13 people were killed by three different F4 tornadoes (on the Fujita scale) during the 1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak on April 11, 1965. In the Super Outbreak on April 3-4, 1974, two tornadoes (one F2 and one F3) came dangerously close to hitting Monroe, causing five deaths. The most tornadoes from a single storm came on August 29, 1979, when four tornadoes touched down in and near Monroe. However, the tornadoes were weak (three F1 and one F0), and there were no deaths. Since Monroe is too far north and inland, no hurricanes have obviously struck Monroe directly. However, some of the strongest hurricanes have had an impact on Monroe in the form of a few irregular inches of increased rainfall, although by this point, they have no more power than a depression. Tropical Storm Candy (1968) traveled unusually far inland and dropped 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) of rain. Other storms, such as Hurricane Hugo (1989) and Hurricane Isabel (2003) also dropped trace amounts of rain with over 30 mph (48 kph) winds— long after they lost their hurricane status.


The city of Monroe is served by only one large public school district, Monroe Public Schools (MPS), which enrolls approximately 6,700 students. The next nearest school district is the Jefferson School District, which serves the area bordering north of Monroe. Students in Monroe Countymarker can choose to enroll in any public school district in the county, granted the district has available space. If a student attends a school outside of their normal district, the school will usually not provide transportation for the student. MPS operates nine elementary schools, one middle school (Monroe Middle School), one high school (Monroe High School), one alternative high school primarily for at-risk students (Orchard Center High School), and two specialized education centers. At around 2,100 students, Monroe High School is one of the largest high schools in the state. Monroe is also served by the Monroe County Intermediate School District (ISD), which provides services to other schools in the form of special education services, support staff, substitute teachers, and educational technology (such as computers and distance learning). In Monroe County, all special education and substitute teachers and aides are technically employed through the ISD, even if they work entirely within another school district. The campus of the ISD has educational facilities handling self-contained special education classes for children with mental retardation. Students in Monroe may also attend one of two public charter schools, and there are also over a dozen various parochial schools in and around Monroe. The largest of these schools is St. Mary Catholic Centralmarker, which enrolls over 400 students a year and has a full sports program that competes against the other public school districts. Students may also be homeschooled.

Marygrove Collegemarker, sponsored by the local Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM), was founded in Monroe in 1905 as a Catholic, liberal arts college. The college then moved to its current location in Detroitmarker in 1927. The IHM also operated a boarding school, the Hall of the Divine Child, in Monroe from 1918–1980. Monroe County Community College (MCCC) was founded in 1964 as a community college just west of Monroe High School. MCCC, which enrolls approximately 4,500 students a year, traditionally offers liberal arts classes in preparation for transfer to a university. The highest degree that can be achieved through MCCC is an associate degree. However, in certain programs, such as nursing, one can achieve a bachelor's degree, since MCCC offers extended four-year university classes on their campus for various nearby universities. The college also offers numerous vocational education courses for trade skill professions. Monroe County Community College is the only higher education school in Monroe County.


I-75 Interstate 75 travels through Monroe and provides access to Toledomarker and Detroitmarker. There are five interchanges in and near Monroe: LaPlaisance Road (exit 11), Elm Street (exit 13), Front Street (exit 14), North Dixie Highway (exit 15), and Nadeau Road (exit 18).

I-275 I-275 has its southern terminus just north of Monroe. Splitting off from I-75, I-275 is a western bypass around Detroit but does not actually merge back with I-75. Aside from I-75, the highway can be accessed in Monroe by US-24 (Telegraph Road) via exit 2.

M-50 The recently truncated eastern terminus of M-50 is in Monroe at US-24 and provides a direct route to Dundeemarker, Jacksonmarker, and further. In Monroe, M-50 is known locally as South Custer Road. Its former terminus used to be I-75 at exit 15.
US-24 US-24 travels through Monroe and provides access to Toledo and western portions of Detroit. The road is known locally as North Telegraph and South Telegraph— divided at the River Raisinmarker. US-24 also connects to I-275 just north of Monroe.
M-125 M-125 travels directly through the downtown area before merging into US-24 north of Monroe. South of downtown after Jones Avenue, it is called South Dixie Highway. In the downtown area, it is South Monroe Street. North of the River Raisin, it is North Monroe Street.
M-130 M-130 was a state highway existing from 1930–1955 and ran along the northern banks of the River Raisin. M-130 had its eastern terminus at US-24 and ran for just over nine miles. In 1955, control of the highway was transferred back to the county. Today, it is called North Custer Road.
Dixie Highway The old Dixie Highway ran through Monroe in as early as 1915. It was originally one of the few ways to reach places like Floridamarker, but the highway was largely replaced by I-75 beginning in the 1960s. Today, the namesake of the highway is used for two non-connecting highways (one being M-125), although the same route and remnants of the original highway are long gone.
US-25 U.S. Route 25 was the designated name for the portion of Dixie Highway north of Cincinnatimarker, including the portion running through Monroe. Like Dixie Highway, US-25 was largely replaced, and the existing highway was truncated at Cincinnati.
Custer Airportmarker Built in 1946, Custer Airport is located on the former M-130. It is a very small and seldom used airport. There are no commercial or passenger flights departing from or arriving at Custer Airport. There is one paved runway used by small personal airplanes. There is also a small aviation school on the site. All air services in the area are primarily through the Metro Airportmarker in Wayne Countymarker.

Notable residents

Sister cities

Monroe, Michigan has only one official sister city:


Image:M125LookingNorth.jpg|Monroe Street looking north toward historic downtown MonroeImage:StMaryChurchMonroe.jpg|Dating back to 1788, St. Mary Church is one of the largest in Monroe.Image:MonroeMIcourthouse.jpg|Built in 1880, the county courthouse is located next to the city hall.Image:Frenchtown1812Battlefield.jpg|The recently authorized National Battlefield Parkmarker is still under construction.Image:Monroe-IHM.jpg|The Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is located in Monroe.Image:Monroe-IHM-sidebuilding.jpg|The north building of the Sisters, Servants IHM campus up close.Image:MonroeCountyHistoricalMuseum.jpg|Built in 1913, Monroe's first post office is now the county historical museum.Image:CusterFamilyPlot.jpg|Elizabeth and George Custer's family plot at Woodland Cemetery.


  1. Metropolitan Statistical Area Estimates
  2. List of Michigan cities by population
  3. Monroe, Michigan historical markers
  4. River Raisin Battlefield
  5. Battlefield Visitor Center
  6. History of the Custer statue
  7. Custer statue moved
  8. Custer Airport details
  9. La-Z-Boy history
  10. Eby Log Cabin
  11. Martha Barker Country Store Museum
  12. Monroe County Fair
  13. Monroe County Historical Museum
  14. Monroe County Labor History Museum
  15. Monroe County Vietnam Veterans Historical Museum
  16. Monroe Multi-Sports Complex
  17. River Raisin Battlefield Visitor Center
  18. River Raisin Centre for the Arts
  19. River Raisin Jazz Festival
  20. USGS Elevations and Distances in the United States
  21. Elevation of Monroe, MI
  22. Port of Monroe
  23. Sterling State Park
  24. Climate of Monroe
  25. Monroe County tornado statistics
  26. Hurricanes in Michigan?
  27. Great Schools profile of Monroe Public Schools
  28. Monroe Public Schools homepage
  29. Monroe County ISD homepage
  30. MCCC homepage
  31. Michigan Highways 50 through 59
  32. Twin towning with Hofu, Japan

External links

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