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The entrance to Muskegon Lake from Lake Michigan at Muskegon, Michigan
Muskegon (mus-kēg'n) is a city in the U.S. state of Michiganmarker. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 40,105. The city is the county seat of Muskegon Countymarker. The city is located at the southwest corner of Muskegon Townshipmarker, but is administratively autonomous.

Muskegon is the greater populated of two principal cities of and included in the Muskegon-Norton Shoresmarker Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is further included in the larger Grand Rapidsmarker-Muskegon-Hollandmarker Combined Statistical Area. Muskegon is the largest city on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan.

Geography and climate

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.0 square miles (46.7 km²), of which, 14.4 square miles (37.2 km²) of it is land and 3.7 square miles (9.5 km²) of it (20.37%) is water. The city is adjacent to two bodies of water: Lake Michiganmarker to the west and Muskegon Lakemarker to the north. The Muskegon River empties into Muskegon Lake at the city's northeast end.

Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec High °F 63 67 80 86 93 98 96 99 95 83 76 64
Norm High °F 29.8 32.5 42.5 54.6 67 75.6 80 78.1 70.3 58.7 45.6 34.6
Norm Low °F 17.1 18.3 25.4 35.1 45.1 54.2 59.8 58.8 50.7 40.6 31.8 22.6
Rec Low °F -13 -19 -10 1 22 31 39 36 27 21 -14 -15
Precip (in) 2.22 1.58 2.36 2.91 2.95 2.58 2.32 3.77 3.52 2.8 3.23 2.64

Geographic features


As of the census of 2000 [18127], there were 40,105 people, 14,569 households, and 8,537 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,794.5 per square mile (1,079.1/km²). There were 15,999 housing units at an average density of 1,114.8/sq mi (430.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 57.9% White, 31.7% African American, 2.3% Native American, 0.46% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.69% from other races, and 3.50% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any origins were 6.4% of the population.

There were 14,569 households out of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.2% were married couples living together, 20.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.4% were non-families. 34.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.13.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.8% under the age of 18, 11.6% from 18 to 24, 32.2% from 25 to 44, 18.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 109.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 110.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,929, and the median income for a family was $32,640. Males had a median income of $29,114 versus $22,197 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,283. About 16.8% of families and 20.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.6% of those under age 18 and 14.3% of those age 65 or over.


Muskegon Lake

Human occupation of the Muskegon area goes back seven or eight thousand years to the nomadic Paleo-Indian hunters who occupied the area following the retreat of the Wisconsonian glaciations. The Paleo-Indians were succeeded by several stages of woodland Indian developments, the most notable of whom were the Hopewellian type-tradition, which occupied this area, perhaps two thousand years ago.

During historic times, the Muskegon area was inhabited by various bands of the Ottawa and Pottawatomi Indian tribes. Perhaps the best remembered of the Indian inhabitants of the area was Ottawa Indian Chief, Pendalouan. A leading participant in the Frenchmarker-inspired annihilation of the Fox Indians of Illinoismarker in the 1730s, he and his people lived in the Muskegon vicinity during the 1730s and 1740s, until induced by the French to move the settlement to the Traverse Bay area in 1742.

"Muskegon" is derived from the Ottawa Indian term "Masquigon" meaning "marshy river or swamp". The "Masquigon" river was identified on French maps dating from the late seventeenth century, suggesting that French explorers had reached Michigan's western coast by that time.

Father Jacques Marquette traveled northward through the area on his fateful trip to St. Ignacemarker in 1675 and a party of French soldiers under La Salle's lieutenant, Henry de Tonty, passed through the area in 1679.

The earliest known white resident of the county was Edward Fitzgerald, a fur trader and trapper who first came to the Muskegon area in 1748 and who died here, reportedly being buried in the vicinity of White Lake. Sometime between 1790 and 1800, a French-Canadian trader named Joseph La Framboise established a fur trading post at the mouth of Duck Lake. Between 1810 and 1820, several French Canadian fur traders, including Lamar Andie, Jean Baptiste Recollect, and Pierre Constant had established fur trading posts around Muskegon Lakemarker.

Settlement of Muskegon began in earnest in 1837, which coincided with the beginning of the exploitation of the area's extensive timber resources. The commencement of the lumber industry in 1837 inaugurated what some regard as the most romantic era in the history of the region.

Commerce and industry

Major employers

  • Alcoa-Howmet Castings (Whitehall, MI, formerly Misco) - Aerospace components manufacturing
  • L3 Communications (formerly Teledyne) - Armored vehicle manufacturing
  • Johnson Technologies - Turbine engine components manufacturing
  • Kaydon Corp - Precision Bearings
  • Consumers Energy - Coal-fired power plant
  • Mahle (Formerly Dana (formerly Sealed Power)) - Piston Rings - Aerospace
  • Brunswick - Bowling products
  • West Michigan Steel
  • Wesco, inc. (Headquarters}
  • Cannon-Muskegon Corporation - Specialty alloys
  • Cole's Foods - Frozen Foods
  • Nugent Sand
  • Michigan's Adventuremarker - Amusement Park
  • Reid Supply Company
  • Great Lakes Die Cast (formerly Dilesco)
  • Anderson Global (Formerly Anderson Pattern)
  • Mercy Health Partners - Healthcare
  • Century Foundry
  • Knoll Inc.
  • PrimeStar Solar
  • Port City Group
  • Meijer


Major shopping districts in the Muskegon area include:

Lakeside: Home to the Cross Lake Ferry and currently the de facto center of tourist based retail shopping, Lakeside features wonderful attractions such as an art gallery, candy store, the Harbor movie theater, and glass making shop. It also features many quaint restaurants which give you a feel for the local color and flavor that makes Lakeside a distinct area of the city. The area, together with the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods is considered by many to be the 'spiritual heart' of Muskegon and has long been home to many of the city's leading residents and businesses.

Henry St. : Henry Street from Seminole Rd. to Sherman Blvd. This corridor is anchored at Norton Ave. by Meijer's and Wal-Mart. The Sherman Blvd. end features Home Depot and Walgreens. Throughout the street are several strip malls and chain restaurants.

Downtown: Formerly the location of the Muskegon Mall, an experiment in 1970s city revitalization which saw the existing downtown infrastructure altered and covered by a glass-and-metal construct. The Muskegon Mall began to fail in the 1990s and was officially shuttered in 2002 and razed in 2004. Today, a major redevelopment effort involving government, business, and citizen interests is in place to restore the downtown. At the moment, the downtown area features the beginning of a retail shopping experience including Clay Avenue Winery and has many restaurants and features two full-service hotels. During warm months, the downtown area also features a large Farmers Market dedicated to showcasing the best in locally-grown foods, flowers, nursery stock, handicrafts and baked goods. Also many historic buildings and cultural attractions, including the famed Frauenthal Theatre, Muskegon Museum of Art, Robert Hunt Sculpture, "Muskegon Rising", Hackley & Hume Homes, and Hackley Library are here.

Apple Avenue: Apple Avenue shopping is a shared corridor between the City of Muskegon and Muskegon Township. On the city side, stores such as KMart, Family Dollar, and Muskegon Laundromat provide retail options to residents on the east side of the city. There are also many popular dining options. East of US31 is one of the areas fastest growing shopping areas, supporting the population growth of the eastern side of the metro area.

East Sherman Blvd.: Just east of US 31, the area is home to Sam's Club, Wal-Mart and Lowes. Also features a few strip mall developments, a motel, and several chain eateries.

Harvey St. Corridor This is a relatively newly developed area in Fruitport Township near the intersection of US 31 & I-96. This has become the main retail area in the county. Highlighted by The Lakes Mallmarker, it features the typical mix of big box retailers, national chain restaurants and stores. New to this area is Target. They recently relocated from the East Sherman Blvd. shopping area.


Muskegon Public Schools was founded in 1860 and serves students from preschool through 12th grade. Additionally, it runs the Muskegon Museum of Art and the Muskegon Training and Education Center. In addition to Muskegon Public Schools, the anchor district for the city, there are several other public K-12 schools. These include Mona Shores, Reeths-Puffer, North Muskegon, Fruitport, Orchard View, Oakridge, and Muskegon Heights.

On a side note, many of these schools are noted throughout the state for high school sports. Muskegon ranks first in the state of Michigan, and in the top 15 nationally in all-time football victories, With Muskegon Catholic Central they have been perennial powerhouses in MHSAA football playoffs. Muskegon is a city known for their high school football. Muskegon Heights and Western Michigan Christian rank among the top schools in total boys basketball crowns. Mona Shores has emerged as a regular player in the MHSAA Hockey Final Four.

The City of Muskegon is also served by Muskegon Community College and Baker College.

Grand Valley State Universitymarker's Muskegon Campus is home to the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC) and Annis Water Resources Institute inside the Lake Michigan Center located in downtown Muskegon.

Western Michigan Universitymarker, Ferris State Universitymarker, and Grand Valley State Universitymarker all operate programs out of the Stevenson Center for Higher Education on the campus of Muskegon Community College. It is designed so that an undergrad at MCC may transfer to any of the above schools and complete a bachelors and/or masters degree without having to leave Muskegon.

Culture and recreation

Music and fine arts

Muskegon is home to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, located in the Manistee National Forest in the town of Twin Lake.

Once a movie house, the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts includes two theatres (the main Frauenthal house and the smaller Beardsley Theatre in the adjoining Hilt Building). It reopened 11 years ago, and runs JAM Theatrical productions, Muskegon Civic Theatre productions, is home of the West Shore Symphony Orchestra, is the venue for all Muskegon Community Concert Association events, and used to be home to the now-defunct Cherry County Playhouse.

Muskegon also has one the of founding chapters of the Barbershop Harmony Society.

Muskegon also houses a moderate-sized private collection of fine art in the Muskegon Museum of Art.


The United States Post Office in Muskegon, 1904.
Muskegon Summer Celebration is an eleven-day festival, held during the July 4 holiday every year, that brings national music acts of all backgrounds to the shore of Muskegon Lake at Heritage Landing. Also included is the Muskegon Art Fair, street fair, Village Craft Market, and the carnival rides.

The Muskegon Film Festival is held in May.

Every June, since 1990, St. Jean Baptiste Catholic Church hosts its annual Hispanic Fiesta. The fiesta is always held outside of the church at 1292 Jefferson Street, next to Muskegon High School. There are always live music performances, children's activities, ethnic foods, and more. It is a celebration of Hispanic heritage. They never charge admission, but there usually is a small charge for most food items and some activities. More information can usually be found at the following link: ([18128])

Every third weekend in June the Taste of Muskegon is held featuring Muskegons best and brightest restaurants. Featuring over 25 restaurants and over 125 different food items, also featured at the event are the cooking stage, kids area, and Tasting tent featuring Michigan made beers and wine. visit:

Each August, the Unity Christian Music Festival takes place at Heritage Landing. In May, Rock the Coast takes place at Michigan's Adventure. Both are organized by Alive on the Lakeshore.

In September, the Michigan Irish Music Festival brings renown Celtic musicians to Heritage Landing on the shore of Muskegon Lake. In addition to music, Irish food, beverages, merchandise and cultural exhibits contribute to the appeal of this event. The Michigan Feis (Irish Dance competition) is affiliated and is held at The LC Walker Arena nearby.

In early October, the International Buster Keaton Society visit Muskegon to host their annual convention. The event features public showings of Keaton films at the Frauenthal Theater.

Museums and theater

Broadway at the Frauenthal (Fall through Spring), brings big-time Broadway musicals to Muskegon. Muskegon is also home to Muskegon Museum of Art and West Shore Symphony Orchestra. The Muskegon Community Concert Association provides concerts from September through May.

Muskegon County Museum and Hackley & Hume Historic Site: Mansions built by Muskegon's lumber barons themselves are restored to their old glory and open to the public. The mansions are operated with the Muskegon County Museum, which details the grand, rich history of Muskegon County, from the Pottawatomi and Ottawa Native American tribes and lakeside fur traders to the Lumber Queen of the World to today. Also includes science and nature exhibits.

The Muskegon Museum of Art deservedly is touted as one of the finest art museums in the Midwest. Among the highlights of its permanent collection is Tornado Over Kansas, by John Steuart Curry (one of three leading painters, along with Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton, identified as Regionalists and known for their canvases celebrating the rural Midwest.)

Muskegon is also the home of the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum, which features the USS Silversides, a World War II submarine; the USS LST-393, a World War II amphibious landing ship; and the USCGC McLane, a Prohibition-era United States Coast Guard cutter.

In addition, Muskegon also berths the S.S. Milwaukee Clipper a former car ferry that traveled the same route as Lake Express does today. The boat is in the middle of a long process of being restored to its original form, but in the mean time is open for tours and hosts a museum aboard the vessel with information on both the Milwaukee Clipper, as well as the history of Maritime in Muskegon. Muskegon's entire history surrounds around being a port for commerce or travel, and this is an image the city has embraced.

  • Carr-Fles Planetarium, Muskegon

The Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame exhibits, detailing the area's rich athletic past, are on display at the L.C. Walker Arena.

Camerata Singers, a professional chamber choir, performs at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in downtown Muskegon and other locations in west Michigan.

The Harbor Theater in the lakeside neighborhood is a non profit community theater that shows new Independent, foreign, and classic films. They also host guest speakers presenting films.

Outdoor recreation

P.J. Hoffmaster State Parkmarker

Pere Marquette Beach

Muskegon Lakeshore Bike Trail—Bike along the shores of Muskegon Lake to Lake Michigan. There are two trails that consist the Muskegon Bike paths, one runs along the east side of Muskegon and the other along the North side.

Michigan's Adventuremarker, the largest amusement park in the state, is located in Muskegon County, a few miles north of the city of Muskegon. Michigan's Adventure features a midway with roller coasters, general rides, amusements, and a full water park.

Thunderbird Dragway


Muskegon has a long history of involvement in professional and nonprofessional sports.

Club Sport League Venue Championships
Muskegon Lumberjacks Ice hockey International Hockey League L.C.marker Walker Arenamarker Colonial Cup: 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005

Previous sports teams to play in Muskegon have included:

Club Sport Played from League Stadium
Muskegon Thunder Indoor football 2007–2009 IFL L.C.marker Walker Arenamarker
Michigan Mayhem Basketball 2004–2006 CBA L.C.marker Walker Arenamarker
Muskegon Lumberjacks Hockey 1984–1992 IHL L.C.marker Walker Arenamarker
Muskegon Mohawks Hockey 1965–1984 IHL L.C.marker Walker Arenamarker
Muskegon Zephyrs Hockey 1960–1965 IHL L.C.marker Walker Arenamarker
Muskegon Lassies Baseball 1946–1949 AAGPBL Marsh Field
Muskegon Fury Hockey 1993–2008 UHL and IHL L.C.marker Walker Arenamarker

The Chronicle Seaway Run is run every year in late June. It features a 15k race, 5k race, 5k walk for fun, 15k wheelchair race.

Additional facts and figures

  • According to AAA's 2005 TripTik requests, Muskegon is third most popular tourist city in the state of Michigan.

  • Once referred to as the "Lumber Queen of the World", Muskegon's rich collection of sawmills supplied the lumber to rebuild The Windy City after the Great Chicago Fire. During the lumbering era, Muskegon boasted more millionaires than any other town in America, and had the highest per capita income in the United States for a brief time.

  • "Skeetown" and "The Skee" are two informal nicknames are occasionally used among younger residents of Muskegon for the town.

  • The city is nicknamed "Port City," a reference made to the many large ships that once visited the port.

  • The city of Muskegon is known for its unique local culture and diverse and often eccentric residents. The long history of local pride and rich culture in the city stems from its residents' deep sense of individuality, particular love for the fine and performing arts and humanities, pronounced self-reliance, and strong community and patriotic affiliations. Muskegonites are historically known as a city that 'defies stereotypes', and its cultural quirkiness and appeal have made it a favorite stop for many entertainers and artists. Also, it has caught attention when the character of 'Chris In the Morning' from the 1990s CBS drama, "Northern Exposure" often used a Muskegon Museum of Art coffee mug on the show. It was reported that an Associate Producer from the award-winning show once said that Muskegon was " close to Cicely (The fictional setting of "Northern Exposure") as you can get!"

  • Muskegon has an unusually high number of US military veterans, despite its relative distance from a major military base, and has produced an exceptionally high number of decorated combat veterans and boasts a significant population of combat veterans, many of them former special operations personnel from the US Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. While considering former Muskegon resident and World War II hero Joseph Beyerle, one ranking US general exclaimed, "If this is the kind of soldier that comes from Muskegon then let's sign up the whole town!"

  • In the 1970s, some Muskegonites unsuccessfully campaigned to secede from both Michigan and the United States, claiming that the city had 'perfected the American Dream'. This tongue-in-cheek expression was further reinforced by the now-famed "Lakeside (A prominent and popular Muskegon neighborhood) Against the World!"

  • Muskegon High School boasts one of the oldest and winningest high school football programs in the U.S. The Muskegon Big Reds football team has drawn a number of famous fans over the years, including Chicago mob boss Al Capone,and Darien Burse, who visited at least a couple of the games and always had the team's score read to him on Monday mornings at his offices in Chicago. When he was serving time in Alcatraz, he had a Big Reds' pennant in his cell. In the late 1990s, a restaurant across the street from the L.C. Walker Arena was named A.J Capone's.


  • Muskegon's leading newspaper is The Muskegon Chronicle. The Chronicle is a daily newspaper in Muskegon, Michigan owned by Booth Newspapers. It started publication in 1857.

  • Muskegon is served by several local television channels:
    • WMKG-LPmarker 38 is a low-powered television station serving the area. This station features a homey mix of programming such as television bingo and Dial-A-Bargain. The Dial-A-Bargain show includes a host reading menus from various local eateries. Viewers may then call in and purchase certificates for that particular establishment at 50% off the regular price.
    • WWMT-TVmarker 3 (CBS and CW), WOOD-TVmarker 8 (NBC), WZZM-TVmarker 13 (ABC), WXMI-TVmarker 17 (FOX), WOMS-TVmarker 29 (MNTV), WGVU-TVmarker 35 (PBS), WOTVmarker (ABC), WZPXmarker (ION), and WTLJ-TVmarker 54 (TBN). Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Chicago affiliates are also common in the warmer months.

  • Comcast holds the local cable franchise.

  • The Muskegon area is also served by several radio stations. WUVS-LP 103.7 is a popular urban (hip-hop/R&B) and gospel station with local programming as well as Sunday religious programming and local-based talk. Another local low-powered FM station is WMMT-LPmarker 106.1, owned by the Muskegon Training and Education Center, which airs an Urban Oldies format dubbed "M-TEC 106 FM, Rock 'n' Soul."

  • Local radio talk shows include the Ramona Show on WKBZ 1090. On this show the host interviews local small business people. A once-a-week, Friday afternoon show on the same station is called "Talking Muskegon". "Talking Muskegon" is hosted by local celebrity Jon Van Wyke. It features homey conversations about area nightlife, his work life and volunteer activities he is involved with around town. In addition, he talks about conditions backstage at Summer Celebration, his sailboat and the state of the professional hockey team the Muskegon Fury. Usually the show is co-hosted with two of his friends. T
  • Other local FM stations include 90.3 WBLV-FM (classical/jazz/NPR), 91.7 WMCQ-FM (religious), WLAW-FM 92.5 ("outlaw" country), WGVS-FM 95.3 (public radio), WEFG-FM 97.5 (sports), WLCS-FM 98.3 (oldies), WVIB-FM 100.1 (urban contemporary), WMRR-FM 101.7 (classic rock), WSNX-FM 104.5 (top 40, studios in Grand Rapids), WMUS-FM 106.9 (country), and WSHZ-FM 107.9 (adult contemporary). Other local AM stations aside from WKBZ include WGVS 850 (NPR), WKLQ 1490 (sports), and WMHG-AM 1600 (adult standards). Other area stations can be received from Grand Haven (WGHN-FM 92.1, adult contemporary), Grand Rapids (WGRD-FM 97.9), Ludington, Holland, Zeeland (WJQK-FM 99.3, Christian pop), and Milwaukee.

  • Clear Channel Communications is the major radio-station owner in Muskegon, owning WKBZ-AM, WSHZ-FM, WMUS-FM, WMRR-FM and WMHG-AM, as well as WSNX (although WSNX is considered primarily a Grand Rapids station despite being licensed to Muskegon). Citadel Broadcasting owns WODJ-AM, WLAW-FM, WEFG-FM, WLCS-FM and WVIB-FM.


Public transportation is provided by the Muskegon Area Transit System (MATS - "The Shore Line"), which operates nine bus routes, three trolley routes, and a paratransit system

MATS operates the Muskegon Trolley Company. Three routes cover north side, south side, and downtown; each trolley stops at 11 locations, including Hackley and Hume Historic Site, USS Silversides, Muskegon State Park. (Memorial Day-Labor Day, daily; no trips during special events).

Commercial air service is provided by Northwest Airlines at Muskegon County Airportmarker (MKG). Other airlines service the Gerald R.marker Ford International Airportmarker (GRR) in Grand Rapidsmarker.

Muskegon is the Eastern port of the Lake Express High Speed Car Ferry that crosses Lake Michigan to Milwaukeemarker, Wisconsinmarker offering three roundtrips a day in the Summer, and two roundtrips in the Fall. There are many bike paths starting to be built around the area.

Several major highways serve the city, including:

Major roads


U.S. highways

Michigan highways

Sister cities

Notable current/former residents


Business and politics


Science and technology

The arts


  • Haddon Sundblom, Graphic Arts Designer best known for his images of Santa Claus for Coca-Cola.







  • Muskegon Public Schools. Retrieved July 1, 2005.
  1. Muskegon Weather|Muskegon Weather Forecast|Muskegon Climate
  2. Sherman, Elizabeth B. (2003). Beyond the Windswept Dunes: The Story of Maritime Muskegon, p. 2. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0814331270.
  3. Muskegon Museum of Art, Tornado Over Kansas.
  4. Michigan DNR on Hoffmaster State Park.
  5. MATS History

External links

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