57 Interesting Facts About Michigan

Last updated on September 12th, 2022

Michigan is the 10th most populous and the 11th most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It lies in the Great Lakes and Midwestern regions of the United States. The state attained statehood on January 26, 1837, becoming the 26th state to join the union. Its five bordering states are Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Minnesota (water border). See the full list of the 50 states and their borders here. Michigan (nicknamed: Great Lakes State) has 83 counties. The state’s capital is Lansing. The abbreviation for Michigan is MI. 

Interesting facts about Michigan

1. The name of the state is derived from the word michi-gama (a Chippewa word), meaning “large lake.”

2. Michigan is the only state in the U.S which consists of two peninsulas – the Lower (mainly an industrial area) and Upper Peninsulas (sparsely populated but mineral-rich).

3. Citing cultural differences and political neglect, some wanted to make the Upper Peninsula a separate state called “Superior” — a nod to the nearby Lake Superior. In 1957, the peninsulas were finally connected by the Mackinac Bridge. It diffused the tension and brought closer ties.

4. The Porcupine Mountains: the “Porkies”, as the locals call it, are small mountains in the northwest. The natives came up with the name because the landscape’s silhouette resembles a crouching porcupine. In 1945, it was established as a state park to protect the forest and the wild animals.

Michigan on map

5. Michigan has an estimated 65,000 inland lakes and ponds. This puts any person in the state within a distance of six miles from a natural water source.

6. Michigan has one of the world’s longest suspension bridges the Mackinac Bridge. It is five miles long and connects the Upper Peninsula to the other parts of the state.

7. Michigan also has the nation’s longest freshwater coastline (3,288 miles), and second-longest coastline of any U.S. state, after Alaska.

8. Due to the long shoreline, Michigan needed many lighthouses to guide passing ships. About 150 of them were built since the 1820s — the highest number of lighthouses in the country.

The Mackinac bridge
The Mackinac Bridge. Photo © James Bushelle

9. Michigan has its border with four (Superior, Huron, Michigan, and Erie) of the five Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario).

10. Mount Arvon, the state’s highest point lies in the Upper Peninsula. More than 40% of the state is covered in water, which is more than any other state.

11. The architect of the capitol – Elijah E. Meyers – is the only architect to design the capitol buildings of three U.S. states, Michigan, Texas and Colorado.

Michigan State Capitol
Michigan State Capitol. Photo © Sean Pavone

12. Michigan State Capitol is one of only 13 capitol buildings across the country that is officially designated as a national historical landmark.

13. Livonia, Michigan, is considered one of the worst speed trap cities in North America. In fact, the town was listed #2 in this category by the National Motorists Association (NMA) in 2012.

While this might not fare well with out-of-towners and tourists, this distinction has put Livonia on the map as one of the safest cities for automotive transportation in the nation.

14. Ann Arbor, Michigan, is home to the iconic chewing gum wall. This wall on East Liberty Street was painted in 1999 by artist Katherine Cost as a form of free expression.

Also known as “Graffiti Alley,” one of the walls is entirely layered by used chewing gum. Sticking chewing gum on the wall is a tradition that has grown in popularity since 1999 and is enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.

15. According to the Guinness World Records, Michigan is also home to the world’s tallest identical twins Michael and James Lanier (USA) (b. 27 November 1969) from Troy, Michigan, both stand 2.235 m (7 ft 3 in). Their sister Jennifer is 1.57 m (5 ft 2 in) tall.

The Crisp Point Lighthouse on Lake Superior, Upper Peninsula, Michigan, USA.
As daylight begins yielding to twilight, The Crisp Point Lighthouse at sunset on Lake Superior, Upper Peninsula, Michigan, USA.

16. The state is also home to the headquarters of three major automobile manufacturing companies (General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC, and Ford Motor Co.) in the world.

17. The first factory to assemble cars on a moving assembly line – the Highland Park Ford plant – is in Michigan.

In 1978, it became a National Historic Landmark. This place was the second production facility for Henry Ford’s famous Model T. The famous Henry Ford Museum is also situated in the state.

18. The state is also home to Kellogg Company, the world’s leading ready-to-eat cereal producer. Battle Creek is one of the leading producers of cereal in the U.S. The city is nicknamed “Cereal Bowl of America”.

19. Agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism are the major revenue generating industries of the state.

Railroad Junction
Michigan facts: a railroad Junction. Photo © Angelle Mcgraw

20. The completion of the first railroad in Michigan took place in 1836 and the first air passenger service was flagged off in the state in 1926.

21. Michigan is also known as “Motor City” because it is a hub for car manufacturing since the early 1900s.

22. The state is also home to 360 bird species including the rare Kirtland’s warbler.

23. Dearborn, Michigan, boasts the largest Arab-American community in the nation. The city features the first Arab-American museum in the country with plenty of exhibits, cultural displays, and literary, artistic, and sculptural works of art.

The area also showcases a full variety of Arab and Arab-American owned grocery stores, cafes, restaurants, entertainment venues, and mosques.

24. Michigan also has a mail delivery boat—J.W. Westcott II–which delivers mails to ships while they are waterborne. It is the only floating ZIP code in the United States. It is addressed “Vessel Name, Marine Post Office, Detroit, Michigan, 48222.”

25. The state is also home to the world’s largest cement manufacturing plant. The Huron Portland Cement Company started producing cement in Alpena in 1908.

Metal cans and tins prepared for recycling
Michigan facts: metal cans and tins prepared for recycling. Photo © Photka

26. Michigan and Oregon are the only two states in the U.S. that offer 10 cents back for recycling a can.

27. Grand Rapids, Michigan, was once a significant hub for furniture manufacturing with over 40 reputable companies. Still known as “Furniture City,” Grand Rapids does manufacture all types of residential and commercial furniture year-round. This includes hand-crafted wood furniture and accessories for homes, offices, and other establishments. However, this industry has taken a backseat to beer and spirits manufacturing.

28. In 1945, Grand Rapids became the first city in the world to fluoridate its drinking water. The move was made to help fight tooth decay.

29. The state is also the birthplace of “Motown Records”, which is one of the most successful soul music companies.

30. In 1846, Michigan became the first English speaking government to abolish the death penalty for all ordinary crimes.

31. Grand Rapids, the second-largest city in Michigan after Detroit, was rated as one of the 20 best liveable cities in the U.S. The city takes its name from Grand River, which happens to be Michigan’s largest inland river.

32. Traverse City, a city in Michigan, is known as “the cherry capital of the world.”

the Ambassador bridge between USA and Canada
Michigan facts: the Ambassador bridge between USA and Canada. Photo © D Bergallo

33. The Ambassador Bridge, which is a suspension bridge, connects Detroit, Michigan, U.S. and Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

The bridge is economically important as it is the busiest international border crossing in North America in terms of trade volume. The bridge is the only privately-owned US-Canada crossing.

34. Michigan also has the world’s largest limestone quarry located near Rogers City. It is operated by Michigan Limestone and Chemical Company.

35. Michigan is the 16th largest chemical producing state in the U.S., generating $2.5 billion in annual payroll. Every light car produced in the U.S. contains more than $3,500 of chemical products.

36. The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is regarded as among the top six museums in the United States. The museum has over 100 galleries. It is also amongst the most visited art museums in the world.

37. The Detroit Zoo in Detroit, Michigan hosts more than 1.5 million visitors annually. This makes it Michigan’s largest paid family attraction. It is home to more than 2,000 animals of 230 species. Moreover, it was the first zoo in the United States to use barless exhibits extensively.

38. The world’s largest specimen of float copper was discovered in 1997 on the Quincy Mine claims near Hancock, Northern Michigan by the two landholders when they were searching their property with a metal detector.

The specimen was approximately 14 feet long and 12 feet wide, with thickness up to 17 inches. The specimen is estimated to be worth at least $100,000.

Apple Trees
Apple Trees. Photo © Ganeshkumar Durai

39. Apples are the largest and most valuable fruit crop in Michigan. The state has 11.3 million apple trees. Michigan is the third largest apple producing state in the U.S.

40. Sterling Heights, Michigan, was once the Rhubarb capital of the world. In fact, the city — before it was a city — had one of the largest rhubarb farms in the state.

Today, wild rhubarb still grows around the city but not as much as it once did. This is due to all the development in the area as the city continues to grow and expand. Still, the love for the popular fruit- vegetable remains in Sterling Heights and surrounding areas.

41. Flint, Michigan, is home to the Flint Institute of the Arts. The Institute is the second-largest art museum in Michigan and one of the largest art instruction schools in the nation. With courses in graphic design, illustration, web design development, literature, music, and liberal arts, the Institute continues to attract students from across the country and the world.

42. Michigan State University in Lansing, Michigan is one of the top 30 public universities in the United States.

It was founded in 1855 and today it is one of the largest universities in the United States. It is the top most university in the nation for an undergraduate program in the supply chain.

43. In addition to being the state capital of Michigan, Lansing is home to 25-foot tall pencils along the Lansing Community College Sculpture Walk. Students, faculty, and alumni made these giant pencils around the college in appreciation of art and learning. These pencils are iconic, aesthetically-pleasing, and reinforce the fact that Lansing is an excellent center for schools, colleges, and higher learning institutions.

A barn weathervane
Michigan facts: a barn weather vane on top of a roof cupola against a blue sky.

44. Michigan has the world’s largest weather vane. It is 48 feet tall with an arrow 26 feet long.

45. Harriet Quimby, born in Arcadia, Michigan was the first woman to gain a pilot’s license in the United States. In 1912, she became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.

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