|Nickname(s): The Mall City, K'zoo, K-zoo, The Zoo|
Location of Kalamazoo within Kalamazoo County, Michigan
|• City||25.11 sq mi (65.03 km2)|
|• Land||24.68 sq mi (63.92 km2)|
|• Water||0.43 sq mi (1.11 km2)|
|Elevation||784 ft (239 m)|
|• Estimate (2015)||76,041|
|• Density||3,009.0/sq mi (1,161.8/km2)|
|• CSA||530,672 (US: 85th)|
|Time zone||Eastern (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||Eastern (UTC-4)|
|ZIP Code||49001, 49003, 49004, 49005, 49006, 49007, 49008, 49009, 49019, 49048|
|GNIS feature ID||0629439|
Kalamazoo // is a city in the southwest region of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is the county seat of Kalamazoo County. As of the 2010 census, Kalamazoo had a total population of 74,262. Kalamazoo is the major city of the Kalamazoo-Portage Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 335,340 as of 2015. Kalamazoo is equidistant from the major American cities of Chicago and Detroit, each less than 150 miles away.
One of Kalamazoo's most notable features is the Kalamazoo Mall, an outdoor pedestrian shopping mall. The city created the mall in 1959 by closing part of Burdick Street to auto traffic, although two of the mall's four blocks have been reopened to auto traffic since 1999. Kalamazoo is home to Western Michigan University, a large public university, Kalamazoo College, a liberal arts school, and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, a two-year community college.
Originally known as Bronson (after founder Titus Bronson) in the township of Arcadia, the names of both the city and the township were changed to "Kalamazoo" in 1836 and 1837, respectively. The Kalamazoo name comes from a Potawatomi word, first found in a British report in 1772. However, the Kalamazoo River, which passes through the modern city of Kalamazoo, was located on the route between Detroit and Fort Saint-Joseph (nowadays Niles, Michigan). French-Canadian traders, missionaries, and military personnel were quite familiar with this area during the French era and thereafter. The name for the Kalamazoo River was then known by Canadians and French as La rivière Kikanamaso. The name "Kikanamaso" was also recorded by Father Pierre Potier, a Jesuit missionary for the Huron-Wendats at the Assumption mission (south shore of Detroit), while en route to Fort Saint-Joseph during the fall of 1760. Legend has it that "Ki-ka-ma-sung," meaning "boiling water," referring to a footrace held each fall by local Native Americans, who had to run to the river and back before the pot boiled. Still another theory is that it means "the mirage or reflecting river." Another legend is that the image of "boiling water" referred to fog on the river as seen from the hills above the current downtown. The name was also given to the river that flows almost all the way across the state.
The name Kalamazoo, which sounds unusual to English-speaking ears, has become a metonym for exotic places, as in the phrase "from Timbuktu to Kalamazoo." Today, T-shirts are sold in Kalamazoo with the phrase "Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo."
The area on which the modern city of Kalamazoo stands was once home to Native Americans of the Hopewell culture, who migrated into the area sometime before the first millennium. Evidence of their early residency remains in the form of a small mound in downtown's Bronson Park. The Hopewell civilization began to decline after the 8th century and was replaced by other groups. The Potawatomi culture lived in the area when the first European explorers arrived.
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, passed just southeast of the present city of Kalamazoo in late March 1680. The first Europeans to reside in the area were itinerant fur traders in the late 18th and early 19th century. There are records of several traders wintering in the area, and by the 1820s at least one trading post had been established.
During the War of 1812, the British established a smithy and a prison camp in the area.
The 1821 Treaty of Chicago ceded the territory south of the Grand River to the United States federal government. However, the area around present-day Kalamazoo was reserved as the village of Potawatomi Chief Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish. Six years later, as a result of the 1827 Treaty of St. Joseph, the tract that became the city of Kalamazoo was also ceded.
In 1829, Titus Bronson, originally from Connecticut, became the first white settler to build a cabin within the present city limits of Kalamazoo. He platted the town in 1831 and named it the village of Bronson—not to be confused with the much smaller Bronson, Michigan, about fifty miles (80 km) to the south-southeast of Kalamazoo.
Bronson, frequently described as "eccentric" and argumentative, was later run out of town. The village was renamed Kalamazoo in 1836, due in part to Bronson's being fined for stealing a cherry tree. Today, a hospital and a downtown park, among other things, are named for Bronson. Kalamazoo was legally incorporated as a village in 1838 and as a city in 1883.
The fertile farmlands attracted prosperous Yankee farmers who settled the surrounding area, and sent their sons to Kalamazoo to become businessmen, professionals and entrepreneurs who started numerous factories. Most of the original settlers of Kalamazoo were New Englanders or were from upstate New York.
In the 1940s, the city became the first to install curb cuts.
In 1959, the city created the Kalamazoo Mall, the first outdoor pedestrian shopping mall in the United States, by closing part of Burdick Street to auto traffic. The Mall was designed by Victor Gruen, who also designed the country's first enclosed shopping mall, which had opened three years earlier. Two of the mall's four blocks were reopened to auto traffic in 1999 after much debate.
An F3 tornado struck downtown Kalamazoo on May 13, 1980, killing five and injuring 79.
On February 20, 2016, Kalamazoo became the site of a random series of shootings in which six people were killed. A prime suspect was apprehended by police without incident.
In the past, Kalamazoo was known for its production of windmills, mandolins, buggies, automobiles, cigars, stoves, paper, and paper products. Agriculturally, it once was noted for celery. Although much of it has become suburbanized, the surrounding area still produces farm crops, primarily corn and soybeans.
Kalamazoo was the original home of Gibson Guitar Corporation, which spawned the still-local Heritage Guitars. The company was incorporated as "Gibson Mandolin - Guitar Co., Ltd" on October 11, 1902, by the craftsman Orville Gibson. One budget model was named the Gibson Kalamazoo "Melody Maker" Electric Guitar. Operations were moved gradually from Kalamazoo to Memphis, Tennessee, (Electric Division) and Bozeman, Montana, (Acoustic Division) in the 1980s. Some workers from the original factory stayed in Kalamazoo to create the Heritage Guitar company.
Kalamazoo was once known as the "Paper City" because of the paper mills in and near the city. The Allied Paper Corporation operated several mills and employed 1,300 people in Kalamazoo during the late 1960s. As the forests of West Michigan were logged out, paper mills closed.
Early in the 20th century, Kalamazoo was home to the brass era automobile company Barley.
Kalamazoo was also headquarters of the Checker Motors Company, the former manufacturer of the Checker Cab, which also stamped sheet metal parts for other auto manufacturers. Checker closed on June 25, 2009, a victim of the Late-2000s recession.
Most of Kalamazoo is on the southwest bank of a major bend in the Kalamazoo River, with a small portion, about 2.8 square miles (7.3 km2), on the opposite bank. Several small tributaries of the Kalamazoo River, including Arcadia Creek and Portage Creek, wind through the city. The northeastern portion of Kalamazoo sits in the broad, flat Kalamazoo Valley, while the western portions of Kalamazoo climb into low hills to the west and south. Several small lakes are found throughout the area.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Kalamazoo has a total area of 25.11 square miles (65.03 km2), of which 24.68 square miles (63.92 km2) is land and 0.43 square miles (1.11 km2) is water.
At least part of the municipal water supply for Kalamazoo is provided by the watershed contained within the Al Sabo Preserve in Texas Charter Township, Michigan, immediately southwest of Kalamazoo.
Another watershed, Kleinstuck Marsh, is popular with hikers and birdwatchers. Kleinstuck Marsh is south of Maple Street, between Oakland Drive and Westnedge Avenue, Kalamazoo's major north-south artery.
Kalamazoo has a humid continental (Köppen Dfa, but almost Dfb) climate. Summers can be hot, humid, and relatively long, comprising the months of May to September. Tornadoes are rare but possible in Kalamazoo. In winter, temperatures occasionally plummet below 0 °F (-18°). Kalamazoo has been known for brutal snow storms as late as early April, but there are occasional winter days with no snow cover on the ground at all. Lake-effect snowstorms are commonplace in the winter.
|Climate data for Kalamazoo Battle Ck Intl Ap, MI, 1998-2014 normals, extremes 1998-present|
|Record high °F (°C)||62
|Average high °F (°C)||31.3
|Average low °F (°C)||17.3
|Record low °F (°C)||-14
|Precipitation inches (mm)||1.75
|Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.01 in)||12||9||11||13||13||12||11||13||13||13||11||13||144|
|U.S. Decennial Census
As of 2000 the median income for a household in the city was $31,189, and the median income for a family was $42,438. Males had a median income of $32,160 versus $25,532 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,897. About 13.6% of families and 24.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.0% of those under age 18 and 11.3% of those age 65 or over.
As of the census of 2010, there were 74,262 people, 29,141 households, and 13,453 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,009.0 inhabitants per square mile (1,161.8/km2). There were 32,433 housing units at an average density of 1,314.1 per square mile (507.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 68.1% White, 22.2% African American, 0.5% Native American, 1.7% Asian, 2.8% from other races, and 4.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.4% of the population.
There were 29,141 households of which 25.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 26.1% were married couples living together, 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 53.8% were non-families. 36.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 3.04.
The median age in the city was 26.2 years. 20.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 27% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.9% were from 25 to 44; 18.2% were from 45 to 64; and 9.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.3% male and 50.7% female.
The city of Kalamazoo is commonly divided into 22 neighborhoods, many of which are served by a neighborhood association. The Neighborhood Development Division of the city's government works with these associations to invest federal, state, and local funds, including those from the Community Development Block Grant program, in community improvements and economic growth.
The city has an Arts Council. On the first Friday of each month, the council organizes the 'Art Hop'. Art Hop is a free event, during which downtown businesses and galleries display works by local artists, and patrons 'hop' from venue to venue, enjoying art, live music, and the chance to interact with local artists.
On New Year's Eve, downtown Kalamazoo is the site of an annual New Year's Fest celebration. This celebration is centered at Bronson Park and surrounding venues, allowing patrons to walk from venue to venue to enjoy an all ages showcase of performing arts and other activities (music, magic, comedy, exhibitions, fireworks, food). Initiated in 1985, the event has grown in scope and popularity.
Music groups and other performing artists perform at the downtown State Theatre, Western Michigan University's Miller Auditorium, and Wings Event Center.
The annual "Eccentric Day" at Bell's Eccentric Cafe celebrates the brewery's Eccentric Ale on the December Friday that marks the end of finals at Western Michigan University.
There is no longer a zoo in Kalamazoo. The Milham Park Zoo closed in 1974.
The Moped Army was founded in Kalamazoo in 1997.
Next to Milham Park is the Milham Park Golf Course. Completed in 1936, the 18-hole, par-72 course is entirely within the city limits of Kalamazoo. During winter, sledding and cross-country skiing are popular activities at the golf course (free of charge). In recent years, the Kalamazoo Nordic Skiers club has groomed and maintained skate ski and classic ski trails for community use.
In 2002, the Kalamazoo Public Library was named "Library of the Year" by Library Journal. The library includes a main location and four branch libraries, and until 2010, a bookmobile system. In 2014, the library opened 'The Hub', a digital lab open to the public for digitizing photos and video, producing podcasts, preserving old vinyl records, cassettes and VHS tapes, and other services.
Kalamazoo's theaters and performing groups include the Kalamazoo Civic Players, New Vic Theatre, Farmer's Alley Theatre, Crawlspace Theatre Productions, and the Barn Theatre in nearby Augusta. Plays and musicals are also performed at Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University.
A project of Kalamazoo Valley Community College, The Kalamazoo Animation Festival International (KAFI) encourages and educates animation artists, promotes Kalamazoo's animation industry, and provides community entertainment. In addition to a biannual festival, KAFI sponsors events such as film screenings and workshops throughout the year.
KAFI's first festival drew 235 submissions and nearly 1,000 attendees in 2002. A second festival was held in 2003. Since then, an every-other-year schedule has been adopted. The 2007 festival attracted more than 500 entries from 37 countries. In addition to an animated film competition with $15,000 in prizes awarded, the festival features events for students, artists, educators, filmmakers and the general public. Past KAFI award winners include Bill Plympton, Chris Landreth and John Canemaker.
The city's most prominent art museum is the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, whose collection has more than 3,600 works and a focus on 20th-century American art. The KIA regularly mounts temporary exhibitions.
The Kalamazoo Valley Museum, established in 1881, is an American Association of Museums accredited museum operated by Kalamazoo Valley Community College. The museum features "hands-on" exhibits aimed largely at children, and has a planetarium and a Challenger Learning Center.
The Kalamazoo Air Zoo, just south of town, has several dozen aircraft on display, from biplanes to jets.
The Gibson Guitar Corporation, founded in Kalamazoo in 1902, spurred local musicians to play a wide variety of styles, from classical and folk to modern rock (the company relocated to Nashville in 1984). The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1921, is directed by Raymond Harvey. The city also hosts the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, a Bach Festival, the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music, and the Stulberg International String Competition.
The local and indie music scene has produced pop stars such as RCA recording artists The Verve Pipe and Metal Blade recording artists Thought Industry.
- BL I-94
- US 131
BUS US 131 traversing downtown Kalamazoo.
- [[Template:Infobox road/MI/link CDH|Template:Infobox road/MI/abbrev CDH]]
Kalamazoo is served by highways I-94, US 131, M-43 and M-96. It was on the original Territorial Road in Michigan of the 19th century, which started in Detroit and ran to Lake Michigan. Much of that, but not all, later became Old US 12—the "old" designation came about when I-94 was built parallel to it—and also was called Red Arrow Highway after a World War I army division. The name "US 12" was shifted south to what once was US 112 between Detroit and New Buffalo . Some parts of Old US 12 outside of town, especially in Van Buren and Berrien counties to the west, are still called Red Arrow Highway. The term "Old US 12" has faded from use.
- See also: Michigan Services
- Kalamazoo has rail service provided by Amtrak, with the station located downtown and combined with a newly renovated bus terminal.
- Kalamazoo also has a freight service provided by Grand Elk Railroad running north to Grand Rapids, Michigan and south to Elkhart, Indiana. The line they lease was a former Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad mainline.
- Bus service to and through the city is provided by Greyhound, Indian Trails and the Kalamazoo trolley.
- Public bus services within the city are provided by Metro Transit.
- On the southern end of the city is the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport (AZO), which offers flights on various airlines to hubs and leisure destinations. Construction of a new $36M terminal was completed in 2011.
The Kal-Haven Trail, heavily used by cyclists, runners, walkers, and snowmobilers, extends to downtown Kalamazoo. It runs 34 miles (55 km) between South Haven, Michigan, to a trailhead just west of Kalamazoo. Between that trailhead and South Haven the trail is run by Van Buren County, even the parts within Kalamazoo County. A trail pass is no longer required. The Kal-Haven is a rail trail, built on the former right-of-way of the Kalamazoo and South Haven Railroad.
The section east of the trailhead was opened in 2008 and extends to downtown Kalamazoo. It's known as the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail and is run by Kalamazoo County. No pass is required on that section.
In popular culture
Kalamazoo's name is a familiar reference in popular music, since its exotic sound makes it a "great word for a lyric". Its use as metonym for a remote place is discussed above — "although when it comes to both Timbuktu and Kalamazoo, most of that brag-worthy exotic allure is merely in their names." Nonetheless, numerous songs use the city's name in their song title or lyrics.
Probably the most famous and first was (I've Got a Gal In) Kalamazoo" (1942) by the Glenn Miller band with Tex Beneke. This #1 popular song was written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren. The performance was recreated with Gene Morrison Orchestra as the Glenn Miller Band and the Nicholas Brothers (doing a memorable dance) in the 1942 movie Orchestra Wives. This was nominated: Best Music, Original Song in Academy Awards) Harry Warren (music), Mack Gordon (lyrics). See 15th Academy Awards.
At least a dozen (and many more versions) of "Kalamazoo" songs have been recorded. In chronological order others include: "I've Been Everywhere" by Hank Snow (1962) (album of the same title) and Johnny Cash (1996) Unchained — reworked from the original 1959 Geoff Mack Australian-place-names version made popular by the singer Lucky Starr; "Down on the Corner" (1969) by Creedence Clearwater Revival on their fourth studio album, Willy and the Poor Boys — covered by a dozen other groups – though the reference is not to the city but to one of the "Kalamazoo" line of budget priced guitars manufactured by Gibson; "Kalamazoo" (1995) by Luna on Penthouse; "Cold Rock a Party" (1997) by MC Lyte on Bad As I Wanna B; "Kalamazoo" a song by the rock trio Primus on the 1997 Brown Album'; "Top of the World" by Rascalz (1999) on Global Warning; "Kalamazoo", a song by Ben Folds on the 2004 EP Super D; and "Kalamazoo" (2009) by Mike Craver on his album Shining Down. The city was also mentioned in the chorus of the song "Gotta Get Away" by The Black Keys, from their album Turn Blue ("I went from San Berdoo to Kalamazoo/Just to get away from you..."). Like Miller, the Creedence and Axton lyrics probably use the word "Kalamazoo" as an oblique reference to Gibson Guitars, which made various models named "Kalamazoo", all prominently adorned with the city's name as their origin. Rapper Young Jeezy also referenced the city in the song "Higher Learning" on his third album "TM103:Hustlerz Ambition".
The "Kalamazoo" was one of several names of a railroad Handcar, and was produced by the Kalamazoo Manufacturing Company.
Sophie's family in Magic in the Moonlight came from Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The city of Kalamazoo, Michigan has three sister cities.
Images for kids
Kalamazoo, Michigan Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.