Muskegon // is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan, and is the largest populated city on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan. At the 2010 census the city population was 38,401. The city is the county seat of Muskegon County. It is located at the southwest corner of Muskegon Township, but is administratively autonomous.
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 The Paleo-Indians were superseded by several stages of Woodland Indian developments, the most notable of whom were the Hopewellian type-tradition, which occupied this area, perhaps two thousand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, but by 1830 Muskegon was solely an Ottawa village. Perhaps the best remembered of the Indian inhabitants of the area was the Ottawa Indian Chief, Pendalouan. A leading participant in the French-inspired annihilation of the Fox Indians of Illinois in the 1730s, Pendalouan and his people lived in the Muskegon vicinity during the 1730's and 1740's until induced by the French to move their settlement to the Traverse Bay area in 1742.
The name "Muskegon" is derived from the Ottawa tribe term "Masquigon," meaning "marshy river or swamp".
The "Masquigon" River (Muskegon 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. Ignace 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 Euro-American resident of the county was Edward Fitzgerald, a fur trader and trapper who first came to the Muskegon area in 1748 and who died there, 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 Lake.
Euro-American 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. Lumbering in the mid-nineteenth century brought many settlers, especially ones from Germany, Ireland, and Canada.
Some neighborhoods of Muskegon began as separate villages. Bluffton was founded as a lumbering village in 1862 in Laketon Township. It had its own post office from 1868 until 1892. It was annexed by Muskegon in 1889.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.12 square miles (46.93 km2), of which 14.21 square miles (36.80 km2) is land and 3.91 square miles (10.13 km2) is water. The city is adjacent to Lake Michigan to the west and Muskegon Lake to the north. The Muskegon River empties into Muskegon Lake at the city's northeast end.
|Climate data for Muskegon, Michigan|
|Record high °F (°C)||63
|Average high °F (°C)||30.8
|Average low °F (°C)||19.1
|Record low °F (°C)||−21
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||2.00
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||29.7
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||15.7||12.2||11.2||12.1||10.7||9.0||9.5||9.0||10.1||11.9||14.1||15.7||141.1|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||15.3||11.0||6.1||1.7||0||0||0||0||0||0.3||4.0||12.9||51.4|
|Source #1: NOAA (normals 1981−2010),|
|Source #2: ThreadEx (extremes 1892−2012) |
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2010, there were 38,401 people, 13,967 households, and 7,895 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,702.4 inhabitants per square mile (1,043.4/km2). There were 16,105 housing units at an average density of 1,133.4 per square mile (437.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 57.0% White, 34.5% African American, 0.9% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 2.6% from other races, and 4.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.2% of the population.
There were 13,967 households of which 32.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.9% were married couples living together, 22.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.8% had a male householder with no wife present, and 43.5% were non-families. 36.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 3.09.
The median age in the city was 34.1 years. 23.3% of residents were under the age of 18; 12.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 28.8% were from 25 to 44; 24.1% were from 45 to 64; and 11.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 52.1% male and 47.9% female.
As of the census of 2000, 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 per square mile (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.
In 1976, Muskegon Mall was built in downtown Muskegon, featuring Sears, Steketee's, and Hardy's-Herpolsheimer's. A second mall, The Lakes Mall, was built southeast of town in 2001, resulting in the closure of Muskegon Mall and the rebirth of the City's traditional downtown.
Other retail sectors include Apple Avenue, Sherman Boulevard, and Henry Street.
The city levies an income tax of 1 percent on residents and 0.5 percent on nonresidents.  The Michigan Department of Corrections operates the Muskegon Correctional Facility in southeastern Muskegon. The prison first opened in 1974.
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, Muskegon is served by these private K-12 schools: Muskegon Catholic Central, Fruitport Calvary Christian, and Western Michigan Christian.
In 2010, North Muskegon High School was noted as the top performing public school in the State of Michigan by the state Department of Education.
Grand Valley State University's Muskegon Campus is home to the Muskegon Innovation Hub (formerly MAREC) and Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI) inside the Lake Michigan Center located in downtown Muskegon.
Western Michigan University, Ferris State University, and Grand Valley State University 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 master's degree without having to leave Muskegon.
Once a movie house, the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts includes two theaters (the main Frauenthal house and the smaller Beardsley Theater in the adjoining Hilt Building). It was refurbished in 1998, and runs JAM Theatrical productions, Muskegon Civic Theatre productions, is home of the West Michigan Symphony Orchestra, was the venue for all Muskegon Community Concert Association events, and used to be home to the now-defunct Cherry County Playhouse. The Frauenthal was originally built as the Michigan Theater in 1929.
Muskegon also has one of the founding chapters of the Barbershop Harmony Society.
A lackluster attendance in 2011 caused the cancellation of the 2012 Muskegon Summer Celebration festival. A new festival, Rockstock (formerly Coast West) has taken its place. The Art Fair also returned in 2013. The Art fair has grown to become one of the largest and well-attended art fairs in the State of Michigan.
Muskegon Bike Time is held every July. The most well-attended aspect of Bike Time is Rebel Road – a 6 block stretch of Western Avenue in downtown Muskegon, when 50,000+ bikes and more than 100,000 visitors spend much of the 4-days festival. Bike Time and Rebel Road were attended by more than 100,000 people in 2016.
The Muskegon Motorcycle Club, organized in 1920, hosts the Hill Climb every other year, an American Motorcycle Association (AMA) sanctioned race.
In September, the Michigan Irish Music Festival brings renowned Celtic musicians to Heritage Landing on the shore of Muskegon Lake. Artists have included Tommy Makem, Gaelic Storm, Slide, The Old Blind Dogs, Scythian and many more. 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 Muskegon Catholic Central High School.
Muskegon also plays host to Moose Fest each August, as well as the Muskegon Polish Festival each September.
Broadway at the Frauenthal (fall through spring) brings Broadway musicals to Muskegon. Muskegon is also home to Muskegon Museum of Art and West Michigan Symphony Orchestra. The Muskegon Community Concert Association provides concerts from September through May.
Lakeshore Museum Center (formerly known as 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 Hackley & Hume mansions are part of downtown Muskegon's Heritage Village—2 blocks from Muskegon Lake, and a National Register Historic District. The mansions are operated with the Lakeshore Museum Center, 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 is touted[by whom?] 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 USS Silversides Submarine 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 ship (which is a National Historic Landmark) is in the middle of a long process of being restored to its original form, but in the meantime 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 is an historical port for commerce and lake travel. The lumbering era through World War II was its busiest historical use. Its image as a port the city has embraced with the local nickname 'The Port City'. It possesses a fine deep-water port and still functions delivering bulk cement, aggregate, and large cargoes to several lakeshore facilities, also coal to the B.C. Cobb power plant, an outdated coal-burning facility due to shut down.
Pere Marquette Beach is the largest free public beach on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, and one of the loveliest in the state. Windsurfing, kite boarding competitions, and professional volleyball tournaments are held there. Its quartz sand beach is a Clean Beaches Counsel certified beach. The beach area is popular with cyclists, runners and hikers, and sand dunes border the beach to the east.
Muskegon Lake is a first class walleye fishery and has many other freshwater species including the Lake Perch. Lake Michigan off Muskegon hosts large numbers of coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead, brown trout, lake perch and many other game fish.
Muskegon Lakeshore Bike Trail allows for biking 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 Adventure, 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.
|Muskegon Lumberjacks||Ice hockey||United States Hockey League||L.C. Walker Arena|
|West Michigan Lake Hawks||Basketball||American Basketball Association||Reeths-Puffer High School|
|Muskegon Mustangs||Football||Great Lakes Football League||Oakridge High School|
|West Michigan Ironmen||Indoor football||American Indoor Football||L.C. Walker Arena|
|Muskegon Risers SC||Soccer||Premier League Of America & Premier Arena Soccer League||L.C. Walker Arena and Kehern Stadium|
Previous sports teams to play in Muskegon have included:
|Muskegon Lumberjacks/Fury (1992–2010)||Hockey||1992−2010||IHL, UHL||L.C. Walker Arena|
|Muskegon Thunder||Indoor football||2007−2009||IFL||L.C. Walker Arena|
|Michigan Mayhem||Basketball||2004−2006||CBA||L.C. Walker Arena|
|Muskegon Lumberjacks (1984–1992)||Hockey||1984−1992||IHL||L.C. Walker Arena|
|Muskegon Mohawks||Hockey||1965−1984||IHL||L.C. Walker Arena|
|Muskegon Zephyrs||Hockey||1960−1965||IHL||L.C. Walker Arena|
|Muskegon Lassies||Baseball||1946−1949||AAGPBL||Marsh Field|
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.
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 and Greyhound serve the Herman Ivory Passenger Terminal.
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).
Muskegon is the eastern port of the Lake Express High Speed Car Ferry that crosses Lake Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin 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:
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Science and technology
By 1837, those seeking the resources of the woods discovered that the Muskegon River provided the perfect transportation link for the lumber companies' logs. The Muskegon River from Houghton Lake to Muskegon was on the southern edge of the vast white pine forests of Northern Michigan. Those logs could be brought in bulk down the river to Muskegon Lake, where eventually 47 sawmills were built.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Muskegon.|
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