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East Lansing, Michigan
City of East Lansing
Intersection of Grand River Avenue and M.A.C. Avenue in downtown East Lansing
Intersection of Grand River Avenue and M.A.C. Avenue in downtown East Lansing
Location within Clinton County (top) and Ingham County (bottom)
Location within Clinton County (top) and Ingham County (bottom)
East Lansing, Michigan is located in Michigan
East Lansing, Michigan
East Lansing, Michigan
Location in Michigan
East Lansing, Michigan is located in the United States
East Lansing, Michigan
East Lansing, Michigan
Location in the United States
Country United States
State Michigan
Counties Clinton and Ingham
Settled 1847
Incorporated 1907
 • Type Council–manager
 • Total 13.51 sq mi (35.00 km2)
 • Land 13.43 sq mi (34.78 km2)
 • Water 0.08 sq mi (0.21 km2)
856 ft (261 m)
 • Total 48,579
 • Estimate 
 • Density 3,584.88/sq mi (1,384.12/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)
48808 (Bath)
48906, 48910, 48912 (Lansing)
Area code(s) 517
FIPS code 26-24120
GNIS feature ID 0625219

East Lansing is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. Most of the city lies within Ingham County with a smaller portion extending north into Clinton County. The population was 48,579 at the 2010 census, an increase from 46,420 at the 2000 census. Located just east of the state capital of Lansing, East Lansing is well-known as the home of Michigan State University. The city is part of the Lansing–East Lansing metropolitan area.


East Lansing was an important junction of two major Native American groups: the Potawatomi and Fox. By 1850, the Lansing and Howell Plank Road Company was established to connect a toll road to the Detroit and Howell Plank Road, improving travel between Detroit and Lansing, which cut right through what is now East Lansing. The toll road was finished in 1853, and included seven tollhouses between Lansing and Howell.

Michigan State University was founded in 1855 and established in what is now East Lansing in 1857. For the first four decades, the students and faculty lived almost entirely on the college campus. A few commuted from Lansing, and that number increased when a streetcar line was built in the 1890s, but there were few places to live in the then-rural area immediately around the campus.

That started to change in 1887, when professors William J. Beal and Rolla C. Carpenter created Collegeville, along what is now Harrison Road and Center and Beal Streets, north of Michigan Avenue. Few faculty were attracted to the location, and the first residents were "teamsters and laborers". In 1898, the College Delta subdivision (including what is now Delta Street) had the support of the college itself, which provided utilities, and several professors built homes there (one of which survives today at 243 W. Grand River Ave.). Other subdivisions followed.

At that time, the post office address was "Agricultural College, Michigan." A school district encompassing the nascent community was created in 1900. In 1907, incorporation as a city was proposed under the name "College Park"; the legislature approved the charter but changed the name to "East Lansing." The first seven mayors, starting with Clinton D. Smith in 1907 and Warren Babcock in 1908, were professors or employees of the college.

The city charter in 1907 prohibited the possession, sale, or consumption of alcoholic beverages, and East Lansing was a "dry" city until voters modified the charter provision in 1968.


Downtown East Lansing at night overlooking Albert Street.
Grand River Avenue in East Lansing
A photo of Grand River Avenue, Downtown East Lansing

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.67 square miles (35.41 km2), of which 13.59 square miles (35.20 km2) is land and 0.08 square miles (0.21 km2) is water.

Since 1998, East Lansing has expanded its borders through the use of 425 Agreements. The city is currently in three 425 Agreements with Bath Township, DeWitt Township, and Meridian Township, and has effectively added thousands of acres of land to its border.

  • East Lansing and DeWitt Township entered into two 425s in 1998 and 2001, which involved nearly 1,200 acres (4.9 km2) of land. The agreement stipulates that East Lansing gains full control of the land after 33 years.
  • East Lansing and Bath Township entered into a 425 Agreement in June 2002 involving 1,056 acres (4.27 km2) of land. The agreement stipulates that East Lansing gains full control of the land after 100 years.
  • East Lansing and Meridian Township entered into a 425 in November 2002 involving 101 acres (0.41 km2) of land. The agreement stipulates that the Meridian Township residents get to decide the fate of the land after 100 years.

The city has also made use of annexation of surrounding township lands in recent years. It annexed the 66.5 acres (269,000 m2) of the Four Winds Golf Course in Meridian Township in 2001, and another 6 acres (24,000 m2) of the township in 2006. The city also annexed from DeWitt Township the land that is currently the East Lansing Soccer Complex.


The city's downtown area is centered around Grand River Avenue, a wide, tree-lined boulevard that evolved out of the 19th-century plank road that connected Lansing to Detroit. Grand River Avenue and Michigan Avenue serves as a dividing line between the Michigan State University campus and the rest of the city. The street is lined with many college-oriented businesses, such as bars, tanning salons, coffee shops, head shops, restaurants (many dine al fresco) and bookstores. Immediately north of downtown are predominantly student neighborhoods. Further north is the residential part of the city. In the northernmost tier of the city are several new housing subdivisions and student-oriented apartment complexes. These new developments are far from the university, but their lower property tax rates allow them to offer students more amenities.


East Lansing has more than 25 neighborhoods, many of which have neighborhood associations that sponsor social events, attend to neighborhood issues, and often advocate for neighborhood interests in meetings of the City Council and city commissions.

A section of the city has been designated a Historic District, and a Historic District Commission has been established by the City Council. In addition, many landmark structures in the older neighborhoods have been identified within a Landmark Structures Historic District of the Historic Preservation Code.

Neighborhoods with Wikipedia pages include Tamarisk.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 802
1920 1,889 135.5%
1930 4,380 131.9%
1940 5,839 33.3%
1950 20,325 248.1%
1960 30,198 48.6%
1970 47,540 57.4%
1980 51,392 8.1%
1990 50,677 −1.4%
2000 46,525 −8.2%
2010 48,579 4.4%
2020 47,741 −1.7%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 48,579 people, 14,774 households, and 4,811 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,574.6 inhabitants per square mile (1,380.2/km2). There were 15,787 housing units at an average density of 1,161.7 per square mile (448.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 78.4% White, 10.6% Asian, 6.8% African American, 0.3% Native American, 1.0% from other races, and 2.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 3.4% of the population.

There were 14,774 households, of which 13.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 24.7% were married couples living together, 5.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.2% had a male householder with no wife present, and 67.4% were non-families. 33.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.80.

The median age in the city was 21.6 years. 7.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 62.4% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 14.6% were from 25 to 44; 9.2% were from 45 to 64; and 6.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.5% male and 51.5% female.


Local transportation

Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) provides public bus transit throughout East Lansing, Lansing, and surrounding areas.

The Northern Tier Trail is a shared-use pedestrian and bicycle path system connecting some parts of the northern half of the city; the Lansing River Trail begins on the campus of Michigan State University and extends west into downtown Lansing and then north towards the airport.

Intercity transportation

Amtrak, Indian Trails, and Greyhound all provide intercity rail and bus services at the East Lansing Amtrak depot, which is located at 1240 South Harrison Road, within walking distance of the Michigan State University main campus, although public transportation also serves the depot.

Amtrak offers daily service to East Lansing on its Port Huron to Union Station, Chicago train, the Blue Water. Two class one freight railroads serve the city including Canadian National Railway (CN) and CSX Transportation (CSXT).

Bus transportation is offered between East Lansing and Detroit Metro Airport twelve times daily by Michigan Flyer.

The Capital Region International Airport in nearby Lansing offers a number of non-stop domestic and international flights as far as Cancún; connections between East Lansing and the airport are offered by CATA (with a transfer in downtown Lansing); rental cars are also available at the airport.

Three major interstates and one U.S. Highway serve the East Lansing area including: Interstate 96 (I-96), I-69, I-496, and U.S. Highway 127 (US 127).

Major highways

  • I-69 runs from Indianapolis, along the northern boundary of East Lansing, and east to Flint and Port Huron, connecting to Canada.
  • BL I-69 is a loop route running through Lansing and East Lansing.
  • US 127 is a north-south highway passing between Lansing and East Lansing, continuing northerly toward Clare and Grayling and southerly toward Jackson, Michigan and into Ohio.
  • M-43 (Saginaw Street, Grand River Avenue)
  • M-99
  • M-143 (Michigan Avenue) is a route between M-43 and the Lansing city limit.


Great Lakes Folk Festival Aerial
The Great Lakes Folk Festival in East Lansing's Ann Street Plaza.

The city has several neighborhoods of detached, single-family houses within a mile of the Michigan State University campus.

East Lansing has a very large student population; in 2006 the city's population was about 45,931, while the university's 2006-07 enrollment was 45,520. Granted, not all students enrolled live in East Lansing or on campus.


From March 29 to April 2, 2006, East Lansing hosted the USA Hockey National Tournament. The age group that competed contained players from the U-14 Tier 2 division. States were represented with teams from Massachusetts, Michigan, Alaska, Nebraska, Florida, California, Connecticut, Indiana, New York, and Pennsylvania. In the end, The LA Hockey Club representing California won.


In 2007, the City of East Lansing celebrated its Centennial. The celebration began in January 2007 with a kick-off press conference at the Marriott Hotel in downtown East Lansing. Events throughout the year included an old fashion concert, a birthday party, and a historic homes tour. A fireworks show took place in August, along with many more events throughout the year. With Michigan State University's Sesquicentennial ice cream flavor such a huge success, the City of East Lansing contracted Melting Moments ice cream shop to develop a Centennial ice cream flavor. All downtown businesses were encouraged to take part in Centennial festivities. The Peoples Church on West Grand River Avenue also celebrated its 100th birthday in 2007.

Sites of interest

On campus

MSU Broad Art Museum exterior 4
Broad Art Museum at
Michigan State University
  • W. J. Beal Botanical Garden which is the oldest botanical garden in the United States.
  • Michigan State University Horticulture Gardens
  • Beaumont Tower
  • Red Cedar River
  • Wharton Center for the Performing Arts (Great Hall and Pasant Theatre), the Fairchild Theatre, and the MSU Auditorium (Main Stage and Arena Theater).
  • Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum
  • Abrams Planetarium and the MSU Observatory
  • Spartan Stadium
  • Breslin Center
  • MSU Forest Akers Golf Courses
  • MSU Pavilion
  • MSU Federal Credit Union, the largest university-based credit union in the world.
  • CATA Bus Station
  • Sparty is the nickname of The Spartan, a large statue representing the MSU mascot, a Spartan warrior. "Sparty" is frequently used as a landmark when giving directions on campus.
  • The Rock is a large boulder, approximately five feet high, originally placed near Beaumont Tower by the Class of 1873, since relocated to a site northeast of the Farm Lane Bridge. It serves as a venue for student groups and is routinely graffitied by those groups.
  • National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory

Off campus

  • Hannah Community Center (originally built as East Lansing High School, and later used as a middle school) featuring the Albert A. White Performing Arts Theatre.
  • East Lansing Public Library.
  • The "Habitrail", or Hamster Cage, or Gerbil Cage, is a large multicolored parking structure near campus that resembles a Habitrail home for pet rodents. The controversial design resulted from the city's instructions to the architect that the building be "festive" and have "no brick".
  • Saper Galleries, an award-winning art gallery serving clients internationally since 1978 is in a contemporary gallery building in downtown East Lansing on Albert Avenue.
  • Scene metrospace, the city sponsored art gallery located in the ground floor of the multicolored parking structure.
  • East Lansing Family Aquatic Center.
  • Trowbridge railroad junction (located near Trowbridge Road) and the nearby Amtrak depot are popular spots with railfans for train watching. At Trowbridge, the busy Grand Trunk Western Railroad line connecting Chicago to Toronto intersects the former Pere Marquette Railroad (now Conrail line from Detroit to Grand Rapids).

Outside East Lansing

  • The city of Lansing is adjacent to East Lansing. Lansing has, among other things, the State Capitol, Hall of Justice (Supreme Court), and Michigan Library and Historical Center. Thomas M. Cooley Law School, the nation's largest law school, is located in downtown Lansing. Lansing also is the home of the Lansing Lugnuts minor league baseball team. There is a City Market in downtown Lansing, next to the Grand River.
  • Lake Lansing is nearby and is approximately 500 acres (2 km²) in size. The lake has an outstanding beach, and is a summer favorite of swimmers, sunbathers, boaters and fishermen. The Lansing Sailing Club and Michigan State University Sailing Club have facilities on Lake Lansing where sailing regattas are held throughout the summer months.
  • Meridian Mall is located in the suburb of Okemos, and Eastwood Towne Center in Lansing Township.

Local events

  • The East Lansing Film Festival is the largest festival of its kind in Michigan.
  • East Lansing Art Festival is a juried art show held each spring on the weekend before Memorial Day. In 2009 it received a national ranking in the Art Fair Sourcebook Top 200 for its fine art and craft sales. "With its 117th fine art ranking and 153rd fine craft ranking, the festival was included among a list of the top 200 best-selling art fairs and festivals in the country. These rankings are based on the festival’s gross average sales for 2009, which totaled $2,857 per artist exhibitor".
  • Great Lakes Folk Festival originated after The National Folk Festival, which made East Lansing its home for 3 years, moved to a new city for another 3 years. The festival is usually held during the second weekend of August.
  • The Michigan High School Boys State Basketball Championship tournament is typically held at Michigan State University's Breslin Center each March.
  • The 2007 Odyssey of the Find World Finals occurred at Michigan State University.
  • The 2009 Future Problem Solvers International Conference was held in East Lansing.
  • The Children's Concerts held at East Lansing Hannah Community Center, is an annual series of live music geared for young audiences and their families.
  • The Crystal Awards honors the extraordinary accomplishments of individuals, businesses and organizations that have impacted the quality of life in East Lansing.
  • The Summer Solstice Jazz Festival is a two-day festival that salutes jazz music with local and national jazz performers and celebrates the longest day of the year.
  • The Summer Concert Series features live local music each Friday and Saturday in Downtown East Lansing.
  • The Moonlight Film Festival offers free movies on an outdoor big screen in Valley Court Park in downtown East Lansing.
  • One Book One Community is a unique program that brings the city-university community together to read the same book and come together to discuss it in a variety of settings.
  • The Winter Glow features holiday activities, musical entertainment and merchant activities. The Festival is usually takes place at the Ann Street Plaza, Parking Lot 1 and the East Lansing Marriott.


Higher education

Michigan State University, a member of the Big Ten Conference, is the largest education institution in the State of Michigan (9th largest in the United States), reflecting East Lansing's history as a college town. MSU has more than 200 programs of study including two in human medicine (MD and DO) and one veterinary medicine school (DVM), a law school (JD, L.L.M., and M.J.), and numerous PhD programs. There is also a Master of Arts in Technology (MAET) program.

Nearby Lansing is home to several other colleges, including Thomas M. Cooley Law School which is the largest law school in the United States (by attendees), Davenport University, and Lansing Community College.

Public primary and secondary schools

This city is covered by the East Lansing Public Schools district, which has an enrollment of just over 3,400 students in grades K-12. The district also includes small portions of neighboring Lansing, Lansing Township, and Meridian Township. The district consists of six elementary schools, one middle school (MacDonald Middle School), and East Lansing High School. One fifth of the district's students come from outside of East Lansing through Michigan's Schools of Choice program.

Private schools

  • St. Thomas Aquinas Parish School, 915 Alton Road
  • Stepping Stones Montessori School, 1370 Beech Street

Notable people

  • Spencer Abraham: former US senator and Secretary of Energy under President George W. Bush
  • Chuck Bullough: former NFL player and current defensive coordinator for Syracuse
  • Jim Cash: screenwriter of films such as Top Gun, Legal Eagles, Dick Tracy, and Anaconda; long-time resident of East Lansing and a professor at MSU; born in Boyne City
  • Harry A. DeMaso: Michigan state legislator
  • Kevin DeYoung: pastor, author
  • Richard Lenski: evolutionary biologist at MSU, winner of MacArthur Fellowship (1996), Guggenheim Fellow (1991)
  • Todd Martin: tennis pro; 1988 graduate of ELHS
  • Julie Mehretu: graduate of ELHS, artist, and recipient of MacArthur Fellowship ("genius award") (2005)
  • Drew Miller: wing player for the Detroit Red Wings; brother of Ryan Miller
  • Ryan Miller: Hobey Baker winner at MSU, NHL goalie for the Anaheim Ducks, an NHL All-Star in 2007, and goalie for the U.S. hockey team in the 2010 Winter Olympics
  • General Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps
  • Larry Page: 1991 graduate of ELHS, CEO and co-founder of Google Inc.; 13th richest person in America in 2012 according to Forbes
  • Wally Pleasant: comedic folk singer
  • Ben Poquette: NBA basketball player
  • Susan May Pratt: actress
  • Nate Silver: statistician-journalist; named one of "The World's 100 Most Influential People" by Time magazine
  • Gretchen Whitmer: 49th and current governor of Michigan

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