57 Interesting Facts About Michigan

Last updated on September 12th, 2022

46. Michigan is home to the National Museum of the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen consisted of African-American and Caribbean-born pilots who fought against the Axis powers in World War II.

The pilots were known for their aerial combat bravery and helped turn the tide of the war in favor of the Allies. The Tuskegee Airmen formed the 477th Bombardment Group and 332nd Fighter Group of the USMA. The museum is located in Warren — part of the outskirts of Detroit.

47. Interestingly, the state is also credited with building the world’s largest snowball measuring 10.04 m in circumference. It was built by the students from ASME Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan on March 29, 2013.

48. Did you know that the largest sandwich ever made in the world was prepared by Wild Woody’s Chill and Grill, Roseville, Michigan, on 17 March 2005? Now, are you interested in knowing how big it was? Here are its other dimensions: it was 0.44 m thick, 3.6 m long and 3.6 m wide. And it weighed 2467.5 kg.

49. Comparatively, Michigan has more surface area than Illinois (one of its bordering states) but has less population.

A 2020 Chevrolet Corvette
A 2020 Chevrolet Corvette mid-engine car on display at the Concours d’Elegance of America car show at The Inn at St. John’s.

50. Did you know that Michigan is the most expensive state for buying car insurance? According to Insure.com, a Michigan car insurance policy averages $2,611. And Maine ($845) is the cheapest in this regards.

51. Westland, Michigan, is truly an ice skating paradise for tourists and locals. In fact, the city boasts an incredible ten outdoor skating rinks — among the most in the nation. Westland features several cafes, stores, and ice sculpture exhibitions in the area. The best time to visit this city is, of course, during the winter season but you have to bundle up!

Michigan State Capitol from the front
Michigan State Capitol. Image by Paul Martinez

52. Did you know that it took 6 years to complete the Michigan Capitol Building? The building has more than nine acres of hand-painted surfaces.

53. The Michigan State Football team has won 6 national championships (1951, 1952, 1955, 1957, 1965, and 1966).

54. Michigan produces more than 300 commodities on a commercial basis.

55. Michigan has 36,350 miles of rivers.

56. In 2018, Michigan was among the seven states that produced over 10 billion pounds of milk.

ASPARAGUS
Asparagus. Photo © Deanpictures

57. California, Michigan and Washington are among the top three states in the U.S. for asparagus production. Asparagus has numerous health benefits including weight loss and improved digestion.


The flag of Michigan

Michigan flag
The State Flag of Michigan.

1. Design and Symbolism

The Michigan flag stays true to classical design. Look at the coat of arms. It overflows with natural symbols and Latin mottos – quite the opposite of modern flags with basic shapes and limited colors. It paints a fascinating picture of the people, the geography, and the values of the state.

In the center is a blue shield depicting a man by the water as the sun rises, highlighting the Great Lakes. He holds a long gun for defense but raises one hand to offer peace.

The shield is between an elk and a moose – animals that roam the state and represent its strength. Above it is a hovering bald eagle, a known symbol of the US.

You will see three Latin phrases. On the shield is “Tuebor” (I will defend). On the top ribbon is the US motto “E Pluribus Unum” (Out of many, one). Lastly, on the bottom is the state motto “Si Quæris Peninsulam Amœnam Circumspice” (If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you).

2. Adoption and Revision

Michigan adopted the current flag on August 1, 1911. Some feel the need to make updates. In 2016, state senator Steven Bieda introduced a bill to create a new flag commission and initiate a public design contest. However, it failed to garner enough support.

3. Technical Details

When reproducing the Michigan flag, ensure a proportion of 2:3. Be mindful of the artistic details in this complex design.

4. History

The Michigan coat of arms is the design of Lewis Cass, inspired by the seal of the Hudson Bay Fur Company in the 1930s. Every major state flag has a version of this.

On the first flag of Michigan, one side has the State Seal, a soldier, and a lady. The other side has a sketch of the first governor, Stevens T. Mason. It was unveiled in 1837 when Michigan became a state. Unfortunately, no image of it survived.

On the second flag, one side has the Michigan coat of arms on a blue field. The reverse side featured the US coat of arms. It made its initial public appearance in 1965.

There was a clamor to include other state symbols and remove the US coat of arms. After making the changes, the Assembly adopted the third and final state flag in 1911.

5. Other Michigan Flags

You may see a replica of the state flag but with a white background instead of blue. It is the flag of the Michigan governor.

6. Flag Facts

A flag day is not enough. Michigan showers its banner with love during Flag Month from June 14 to July 14. The state flag flies over the state Capitol below the US flag.

The state Governor may order the US and Michigan flags at half-staff across the state to honor fallen heroes. The President of the United States also has the same power across the country.

Michigan has a unique pledge to the state flag, written by Harold G. Coburn and officially adopted in 1972. It describes the state as two beautiful peninsulas connected by a steel bridge, where people value equal opportunity and justice for all.


State Symbols

1. Great Seal of Michigan

Seal of Michigan
Seal of Michigan

The Great Seal was adopted in 1835. It’s filled with symbolism: an elk and a moose represent Michigan, a bald eagle depicts the US, and an armed man standing over a lake during sunrise signifies peace.

2. The Wolverine State

Wolverine
Wolverine. Photo © Zuzana Randlova

Wolverines are actually rare in Michigan today, although the 18th century fur trade might have made them a household name. Others say Ohio likened Michigan to wolverines as an insult during a war, but locals took pride in it. The University of Michigan even uses the wolverine as mascot.

3. State Bird: American Robin

American Robin
American Robin. Photo © Petar Kremenarov

In 1931, Michigan officially declared the American robin as its state bird. Over 370 million of them fly across North America. They are easily identified through their red-orange chests and melodic songs at dawn.

4. State Fossil: Mastodon

Mammut americanum, "Warren mastodon" specimen.
Mammut americanum, “Warren mastodon” specimen. CC BY-SA 2.0

In 2002, Michigan declared the Mastodon as the state’s official fossil. The creature looks like a massive elephant with 16-foot tusks and a shaggy coat. A nearly complete skeleton was found in Owosso and is now on display at the Museum of Natural History.

5. State Gem: Chlorastrolite

This green gem is typically found in small sizes of about half an inch or less around the Isle Royale National Park. Alternate names include Isle Royale Greenstone, Lake Superior Greenstone, and Green Starstone. Some call it “Turtle Back” because of its surface pattern.


History

1. Council of Three Fires

North American native tribes called the Council of Three Fires have been living in the area long before Europeans came. The Ojibwe were the “keepers of faith”, the Odawa were the “keepers of trade”, and the Potawatomi were the “keepers of fire.”

2. New France

In 1621, the French landed in the area and engaged in lucrative fur trading. They created settlements, brought in Catholic missionaries, built forts, and colonized the region which they named “The Royal Province of New France.”

3. British Control

In the mid-1700s, France and Great Britain went to war which ended in a British victory. The defeated French agreed to turn over New France as part of the settlement, and this was absorbed in the province of Quebec.

4. Michigan Statehood

Several battles ensued between the British and the US forces before Michigan was finally recaptured for good. In 1837, Michigan became the 26th state admitted into the Union — right after Arkansas and before Florida made the jump.

5. Mass Migration

Michigan’s booming economy in the early 1900s attracted millions of migrants all over the world. By the 1930s, over 30 languages could be heard in public schools across the state. It led to exceptional cultural diversity and an influential artistic community.


Famous Celebrities

1. Diana Ross

Diana Ross was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1944. In high school, she took classes in tailoring, modelling, and cosmetology to become a fashion designer. Instead, she became an iconic singer with over 100 million records sold worldwide.

2. Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder was born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1950. Despite becoming blind shortly after birth, he showed remarkable skills that led to a music contract at age 11 and a No.1 hit at age 13. He has the most Grammy awards by a solo artist with 25.

3. Madonna

Madonna was born in Bay City, Michigan in 1958, where her father was an engineer at Chrysler and General Motors. She received a dance scholarship for college, but dropped out and relocated to New York with $35 in her pocket. The rest is history for the “Queen of Pop.”

4. Magic Johnson

Earvin “Magic” Johnson was born in Lansing, Michigan in 1959. He is widely regarded as the greatest point guard in the history of the NBA. During his 13-year stint with the LA Lakers, he won 5 titles and earned 3 MVP awards.

5. Serena Williams

Serena Williams was born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1981. As a professional tennis player, she has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles and over $94 million in total prize money — the most for any female athlete thus far.


Inventors and Entrepreneurs

1. Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh made the first nonstop solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927 when he was just 25. The native of Detroit was an aviator, an inventor, and a military officer. His feat led to a boom in the aviation industry.

2. Larry Page

Larry Page is a co-founder of Google with a net worth of $104 billion as of 2022. He was born in Lansing, Michigan where both his father and mother taught computer subjects. The PageRank algorithm that evaluates and sorts search results was named after him.

3. Steve Ballmer

Steve Ballmer replaced Bill Gates as Microsoft CEO in 2000 and held the position until his retirement in 2014. During his tenure, the company doubled its profits and tripled its sales. He was born in Detroit and raised in Farmington Hills.

4. John Harvey Kellogg

John Harvey Kellogg is known for inventing the corn flakes cereal that became a breakfast staple in American homes. It was originally developed as “anaphrodisiac” food for the Battle Creek Sanitarium which he managed, but former patients loved it so much they continued to consume it after discharge.


Notable Places

1. Henry Ford Complex

It’s one of the biggest museums in the US at 12 acres and 1.7 million annual visitors. The collection includes Thomas Edison’s laboratory, John F. Kennedy’s limousine, the Wright Brother’s bike shop, the Rosa Park bus, Abraham Lincoln’s chair, and other historical artifacts.

2. Meyer May House

Renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Meyer May House in Grand Rapids Michigan. It’s far from the typical Victorian mansion of the 1900s. Instead, it’s a masterpiece of the Prairie style with a T-plan, hip roofs, pale brick, and art glass windows.

3. Fisher Building

This art deco skyscraper is a National Historic Landmark. It would’ve had more towers if not for the Great Depression. In World War II, the gold-tiled roof was covered with asphalt to hide from enemy bombers. Since they couldn’t remove the asphalt, colored lights now give it a golden appearance every night.

4. Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland

Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland looks like a massive Swiss chalet with festive trims. It’s the biggest Christmas store in the world with over 2 million annual shoppers. Outside are a giant snowman and Santa Claus, while inside are 800 animated figurines and over 50,000 products.

5. Michigan Stadium

“The Big House” in Ann Arbor is the football stadium for the University of Michigan. It’s the largest in the US with a seating capacity of 107,601. Only India’s Narendra Modi Stadium and North Korea’s Rungrado 1st of May Stadium are bigger.


Major Companies

1. General Motors

In 1900, William C. Durant was the largest manufacturer of horse-drawn carriages. He didn’t like cars at first, but the shrewd businessman formed General Motors which became the biggest US automaker. GM owns the brands Cadillac, GMC, Buick, and Chevrolet.

2. Dow, Inc.

In 1897, Herbert Henry Dow was a humble chemist who sold bleach. Competition forced him to diversify into agricultural chemicals, dyes, chlorine, magnesium, plastics, and other products. Now the company that bears his name is one of the 3 largest producers of chemicals in the world.

3. Whirlpool

Whirlpool started as a small producer of electric clothes washers in 1911. Now it is one of the best-known brands of home appliances around the world. The company has approximately 78,000 employees, over $20 billion in total assets, and more than $19 billion in annual revenues.

4. Ally Financial

Ally Financial is one of leaders in car financing in the US with more than 1.4 million annual loans, 4.5 million lease customers, and 2 million depositors. It began as a financial services arm of General Motors but eventually became a separate bank holding company.

5. Steelcase

In 1912, Peter Wege started the Metal Office Furniture Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. From filing cabinets and fireproof safes, the product catalog gradually expanded until the company established itself as an industry leader in the 1960s under the name “Steelcase”.


Culture

Cherry In the United States
Cherry In the United States, most sweet cherries are grown in Washington, California, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

1. National Cherry Festival

Every summer since 1925, people flock to Traverse City in Michigan to see the cherry blossoms. It features a Cherry Royale Parade, pie-baking contests, and other activities. In 1987, the world’s largest cherry pie was featured here at 17 ft 6 in and 28,350 lbs.

2. Summer Beer Festival

Michigan is home to many breweries. They gather every year to celebrate the Summer Beer Festival at the Riverside Park of Depot Town. Hundreds of local beers are available for sampling while guests listen to live music and eat great food.

3. Traverse City Film Festival

The festival helps great independent films and documentaries get the recognition they deserve. It was co-founded by Oscar-winning director Michael Moore. The festival helped revive Michigan’s historic State Theatre and the Con Foster Museum.

4. Motown Records

Detroit was not just the center of the car industry. It had a distinct sound led by African-American artists called “Motown” (from “motor town”). These include The Temptations, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, The Jackson 5, and Smokey Robinson. The original recording studio now houses the Motown Museum.

5. Detroit Pistons

Michigan’s professional basketball team, the Detroit Pistons, has won the NBA championship 3 times. Among its notable players are Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, Allen Iverson, Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, and Chris Webber.


Facts about Lansing, Michigan

Lansing, the capital of Michigan is located in Ingham County. Some portions of the city also extend into Eaton and Clinton Counties.

Lansing is the sixth largest city in Michigan.

Did you know that Lansing is the birth place of basketball player Magic Johnson and was also the boyhood home of Malcolm X. Larry Page, Google’s co-founder also lived in Lansing.  

Before Lansing, Detroit was the state’s capital. In 1847, Lansing became the new state capital of Michigan ten years after Michigan became a state. 

It is interesting to note here that at the time when Lansing was made the state’s capital, the city had only 20 residents.

Lansing is the only U.S. state capital, among the 47 located in counties, that is not also a county seat. (the county seat of Ingham County is the city of Mason)

Lansing has a Midwestern humid continental climate. The monthly daily average temperature for July is 21.9 degrees Celsius and that for January is -4.8 degree Celsius.

A notable incident in the history of Lansing happened on September 26, 1963, when a 12 year old female elephant, rebelled against her trainer in a shopping center, and escaped into the streets. It is said that the elephant was further provoked by the crowd which led the elephant to ultimately destroy property worth thousands of dollars and injure a 67 year old man. The elephant was finally shot by Lansing police. 

Every year in November on Friday before Thanksgiving, the annual Silver Bells in the City Electric Light Parade proceeds through the streets of downtown Lansing.

The Michigan State University campus is also home to the oldest continuously operating botanical garden in the country. The garden has more than 5,000 species of plants.

The city was founded by two brothers from Lansing, New York, and that too, on a false promise made to some 16 men who bought the land on the words of these brothers. The brothers who discovered the area named the town Biddle City and sold the plots that never existed. The area they discovered was still covered under water. Those that bought the land arrived in Michigan only to know that they have been scammed. The buyers stayed back and renamed the city after their hometown in New York.


Facts about Detroit, Michigan

Did you know that Detroit is the largest U.S. city on the United States – Canada border?

It is an interesting fact that the Detroit River is actually not a river. It is a straight that connects two larger water bodies. It allows a 28 mile long passage between Lake Huron and Lake Erie.

There are eight places named Detroit in America. These are in Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Maine, Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, and Alabama.

Because of the fact that Detroit had more than 20 potato chip companies at one point, Detroit was declared as the Potato Chip Capital of the world. According to some estimates, Detroiters eat 7 pounds of chips a year while the rest of the country eats about 4 pounds annually.

Spreading out over more than 1,400 acres, there is a gigantic salt mine underneath Detroit. The mine which is approximately 1160 feet below the city’s surface, formed as a result of evaporation of a sea covering the region some 400 million years ago.

The world’s first four-way and three-colored traffic lights were installed in Detroit in 1920 and the inventor was none other than the city’s local police officer William Potts. A third color amber or yellow was introduced for the first time.

Detroit is not just “the Motor City” but is also the birth place of the first paved road in America. In 1909, the first concrete highway in the world was built between Six and Seven Mile roads by Wayne County.

Michigan – Quick Facts and State Symbols

State AbbreviationMI
State CapitalLansing
Largest cityDetroit
State SizeTotal (Land + Water): 96,716 sq miles; Land Only: 56,804 sq miles
Population
9,986,857
(Estimate July 1, 2019 from United States Census Bureau)
StatehoodJanuary 26, 1837
State rank by population10th
State rank by date of formation26th
State rank by area11th
Number of Counties83
Complete list of 50 states and number of counties in each
DemonymMichigander, Michiganian, Yooper (for residents of the Upper Peninsula)
Bordering StatesIllinois, Indiana, Minnesota (water border), Ohio, Wisconsin
Official LanguageNone
Highest PointMount Arvon
1,979 ft (603 m)
Lowest pointLake Erie
571 ft (174 m)
Mean elevation900 feet above sea level
Length 456 miles (734 km)
Width386 miles (621 km)
National ParksIsle Royale National Park
GovernorGretchen Whitmer (D)
Lieutenant GovernorGarlin Gilchrist (D)
Electoral Votes16
State MottoSi quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice (If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you)
State NicknameGreat Lakes State
Mitten State
Winter Water Wonderland
Wolverine State
% Water41.5
Nobel Prize WinnersSamuel C.C. Ting (Physics, 1976)
Robert J. Shiller (Economic Sciences, 2013)
Eric Betzig (Chemistry, 2014)
Ralph Bunche (Peace, 1950)
Glenn T. Seaborg (Chemistry, 1951)
Thomas H. Weller (Physiology or Medicine, 1954)
Alfred D. Hershey (Physiology or Medicine, 1969)
Famous PeopleJerome Bettis (Pro Footbal Player)
John Smoltz (Baseball Player)
Magic Johnson (Basketball Player)
Mike Modano (Ice Hockey Player)
Kate Upton (Actress)
Stevie Wonder (Singer)

State GemChlorastrolite

State SoilKalkaska sand


State FishBrook trout
State WildflowerDwarf lake iris
State BirdAmerican robin
State FlowerApple blossom
State Game MammalWhite-tailed deer
State ReptilePainted turtle
State TreeWhite pine
FossilMastodon
Longitude82° 7' W to 90° 25' W
Latitude41° 41' N to 48° 18' N
Time ZoneEastern Time Zone, Central Time Zone
Websitewww.michigan.gov
Area Codes231, 248, 269, 278, 313, 517, 586, 616, 679, 734, 810, 906, 947, 989
Last updatedDecember 20, 2021