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Saginaw, Michigan
City of Saginaw
Downtown Saginaw as viewed from the Saginaw River
Downtown Saginaw as viewed from the Saginaw River
Flag of Saginaw, Michigan
Official seal of Saginaw, Michigan
Official logo of Saginaw, Michigan
Location within Saginaw County
Location within Saginaw County
Saginaw, Michigan is located in Michigan
Saginaw, Michigan
Saginaw, Michigan
Location in Michigan
Country United States
State Michigan
County Saginaw
Settled 1819
Incorporated 1857
 • Type Council–manager
 • City 17.81 sq mi (46.13 km2)
 • Land 17.08 sq mi (44.24 km2)
 • Water 0.73 sq mi (1.88 km2)
584 ft (178 m)
 • City 44,202
 • Density 2,588/sq mi (999.1/km2)
 • Metro
 • CSA
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)
48601–48609, 48638, 48663
Area code(s) 989
FIPS code 26-70520
GNIS feature ID 1627020

Saginaw is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the seat of Saginaw County. The city of Saginaw and Saginaw County are both in the area known as Mid-Michigan. Saginaw is adjacent to Saginaw Charter Township and considered part of the Great Lakes Bay Region, along with neighboring Bay City, Midland and Mount Pleasant. The Saginaw County MSA had a population of 190,124 in 2020. The city is also the largest municipality in the Saginaw, Midland, and Bay City Metropolitan Area, with a combined population of 377,474 in the combined statistical area in 2020. The city proper had a population of 44,202 at the 2020 census.

Saginaw was a thriving lumber town in the 19th century and an important industrial city and manufacturing center throughout much of the 20th century. During the late 20th century, its industry and strong manufacturing presence declined, leading to increased unemployment, crime, and a population decline. Neighboring communities, such as Saginaw Charter Township, saw subsequent population increases while the city itself is projected to return to normal population growth after the decades-long structural changes to the economy.

Economic development is focused on comparative advantages in innovation, clean energy, and continued manufacturing exports. The city continues to have a higher proportion of manufacturing jobs than the US average.


The name Saginaw is widely believed to mean "where the Sauk were" in the Ojibwe language, possibly in reference to the Sauk tribe who lived at the mouth of the river. Another possible explanation is that it originated from "Sace-nong" or "Sak-e-nong" (English: Sauk Town) because the Sauk people once lived there, or from Chippewa words meaning 'place of the outlet' from "sag" (English: opening), and "ong" (English: place of).

However, this name may be a mistake. When Natives told Samuel de Champlain that the Sauk nation was located on the west shore of Lake Michigan, Champlain mistakenly placed them on the western shore of Lake Huron. This mistake was copied on subsequent maps, and future references identified this as the place of the Sauks.


19th century

Early history

The site of what later became the city of Saginaw was originally inhabited by the Sauk people, who lived in the area and were driven out by the Ojibwe (Chippewa). French missionaries and traders first appeared in the area during the late 17th century. The first permanent settlement by those other than Native Americans was in 1816 when Louis Campau established a trading post on the west bank of the Saginaw River. Shortly thereafter the United States established Fort Saginaw. Campau's trading post was also inhabited by Metis.

During Michigan's territorial period, a county and township government were organized at Saginaw. Growth of the settlement was fueled rapidly during the 19th century by the lumber industry. Saginaw was the site of numerous sawmills and served as a port for Great Lakes vessels. What is now the city of Saginaw resulted from the consolidation of the cities of East Saginaw and Saginaw City (West Side) in 1889.

Fort Saginaw

In 1819, Lewis Cass, in the Treaty of Saginaw, negotiated the prerogative for the United States to own and settle the area with the leaders of the Ojibwe. In 1820, Campau attempted to expand across to the east bank of the river but was rejected by the Chippewas. In 1822, the United States Army established a fort on the west bank of the Saginaw River and named it Fort Saginaw. Two companies were stationed at the fort. A group of investors purchased some land near the fort and had it platted under the name, Town of Sagana. Due to the extremely harsh seasons and illnesses, Fort Saginaw was abandoned by 1824.

By the late 1820s the American Fur Company was operating a post at Saginaw.

Few plots were sold and after the U.S. Army pulled out, the town languished for most of the following decade. The town was re-platted in December 1830, comprising riverfront from Cass Street, on the south, to Harrison Street, and north to Jefferson. These plots sold slowly. By 1835, only 24 plots had been sold and the remainder were transferred to a new owner, who made another plat in February 1837. However, the financial crisis of the Panic of 1837 dampened interest in purchasing properties. After selling only 58 out of the 407 plots, the remainder was sold again in 1841.

Native Americans

Saginaw was the location of the annual government payment to the Ojibwe and Ottawa of the area, starting in the 1830s. This also attracted many French-Canadian and Euro-American merchants, primarily involved in selling watered down whiskey.

Lumber boom

The main cause for the founding and subsequent development of Saginaw was the large demand for lumber as the United States expanded westward. A virgin growth forest principally consisting of white pine trees covered most of Michigan. The convenient access to transportation provided by the Saginaw River and its numerous tributaries fueled a massive expansion in population and economic activity. As the trees were being cut down in the region, logs were floated down the rivers to sawmills located in Saginaw, destined to be loaded onto ships and later railroad cars.

Multiple settlements comprise present-day Saginaw. On the west side of the river the first settlement around what had been Fort Saginaw developed into Saginaw, which was incorporated as a city in 1857, containing the seat of the Saginaw County government. On the east side of the river a parallel settlement, East Saginaw, developed which was incorporated first as a village in 1855, and then as a city in 1859. Also south of East Saginaw, on the east bank of the river, the village of Salina formed. Salina's name relates to the salty brine that led to a growing industry of salt production in the area. Both Saginaw and East Saginaw quickly became a hub for railroad transportation in addition to ships making their way on the Saginaw River.

Lumber production peaked by the early 1870s, but had virtually disappeared by the end of the 19th century. In addition to salt production, which experienced an eventual decline as well, growing industries, such as those supporting the area's agriculture and manufacturing, developed.


On June 28, 1889, the Michigan state legislature passed Act 455 to consolidate the cities of Saginaw and East Saginaw into a single city. Prior to this consolidation, the nearby village of Salina had already become part of East Saginaw. The consolidation of Saginaw became effective with the election of officers on March 12, 1890.

Hoyt Public Library in Saginaw
The Hoyt Public Library, pictured here in June 2006, was built in 1887 by Van Brunt & Howe of Boston.

The provisions of the city charter were established by the same act of the legislature that provided for the consolidation. Saginaw was to be governed by a city council consisting of two aldermen elected from 21 wards and a mainly ceremonial executive mayor who was to have fairly weak powers. This was to be, as numerous other elected officials, along with elected or appointed boards, controlled much of the administrative and executive functions of government. The efficient and cohesive functioning of the Saginaw city government also was constrained by remaining rivalries between residents, business owners, and politicians from the former two cities. The distinctions and rivalries between Saginaw's east side and west side persisted into the 20th century in various forms, and continues to influence Saginaw's social, political, economic landscape, even into the 2010s.

20th century


Around the start of the 20th century, the automobile production proliferated throughout Michigan, but most notably in Detroit. Other Michigan cities developed roles as suppliers to Detroit factories, sometimes with factories of their own. In Saginaw, the Jackson-Church-Wilcox Company began as a partnership in 1906 for producing a steering gear under the "Jacox" brand. Jackson-Church-Wilcox was acquired by Buick in 1909, and as part of General Motors would become the Jackson, Church and Wilcox Division, the first GM division specifically devoted to parts production; In 1919 the Jacox division would be organized with Saginaw Malleable Iron and Central Foundry into GM's Saginaw Products Company, and would form the basis for the Saginaw Steering Gear Division, created in 1928. General Motors and other manufacturers also established foundries and other automobile-related manufacturing facilities in Saginaw, for the production of chemicals and plate glass, as well as metal fabrication. This early development of a symbiotic relationship with the auto industry would set the course for the future economic circumstances of the city.

New governance

In 1908, a new Michigan state constitution was adopted. The new Michigan state constitution mandated increased home rule powers for local units of government, and the Michigan state legislature enacted the Home Rule Cities Act in 1909. Under this statute, cities were permitted to frame and adopt their own city charters and were given great flexibility in structuring their local governments. The government, under the 1889 charter, had continued to be inefficient and provided for much political infighting. In 1913, a new city charter was adopted with voter approval and which followed a commission form of city government that had gained in popular interest among various cities across the United States in the early 20th century. The new government consisted of five commissioners, each elected separately at-large, who served both as the city council and as the executive heads of various city government departments. One of the commissioners served as the mayor, which was a mostly ceremonial role.

The 1913 city charter was followed for little more than two decades when the voters of the city again adopted another new city charter in 1935 following the council-manager form of government. The government under the 1913 city charter retained some of the independent boards that were given authority independent of the elected city commissioners. This caused some inefficiency and political friction. The economic consequences of the Great Depression during the 1930s provided the final catalyst for municipal government reform.

In contrast to the previous government structures, the 1935 charter, having taken effect in 1936, provided for all administration of city government to be headed directly by a single officer, the city manager, who was appointed by, and accountable to a city council of nine members elected as a group by the entire city at-large. The system was designed to address two principal issues with Saginaw's history of municipal government, the inefficiency and politics associated with having executive and administrative authority spread among many different officers and boards, and political rivalries and friction between various geographic areas of the city, mainly the east side and the west side.

Expansion and growth

Former Castle Station post office- Saginaw Michigan
The former East Saginaw Post Office, pictured here in June 2006, is now the site of the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

During much of the 20th century, Saginaw's economy was dominated by manufacturing related to the automotive industry; most notably, manual transmission assemblies, steering gear boxes and power steering pumps. At the height of manufacturing in the 1960s and 1970s, the city and neighboring Buena Vista Township hosted 12 General Motors plants, an Eaton Manufacturing plant where 5,000 people turned out auto parts (demolished 2008), and numerous smaller concerns.

The General Motors plants in the county were:

  • The original Jackson-Wilcox factory on Saginaw's North Hamilton (ca. 1906), later Saginaw Steering Gear Plant 1, closed 1984, sold by GM in 1987 to Thomson Industries, still operating as of 2009.
  • Chevrolet Saginaw Parts at Sixth and Washington on Saginaw's East Side, built in 1906 as the assembly plant of the Rainier Motor Car Company, acquired by GM in 1907; closed 1983 and demolished 1984.
  • Saginaw Malleable Iron on the Southwest Side (1917); contracted to build gear housings for GM's Jacox division (the former Jackson Wilcox company, later Saginaw Steering Gear), sold to GM in 1919, later part of Saginaw Products Division, reorganized into a new Central Foundry Division in 1946. Closed May 2007, razed in 2010 and for sale as of May 2013 by the RACER Trust, charged with disposing of abandoned GM properties.
  • Chevrolet Grey Iron, on the North Side of Saginaw, opened as Central Foundry in 1918, operated by Chevrolet Division 1927–1983, thereafter by GM Powertrain Division; still operating today as Saginaw Metal Casting Operations, the only GM manufacturing division still operating in Saginaw County.
  • Chevrolet Saginaw Transmission on East Genesee in Saginaw, built 1919–20 for the Michigan Crankshaft Company, acquired by GM in 1921 and placed under Saginaw Products; transferred to Chevrolet upon the dissolution of the Crankshaft Division (ca. 1927). Home of the Saginaw 3-speed and 4-speed manual transmissions; transferred to the Delco Moraine Division in 1984, which became Delphi Automotive in 1995; after 2007, leased and later purchased outright by TRW Automotive, operating as TRW Braking and Suspension until closing in February 2014.
  • Saginaw Steering Gear Plant 2, the "Gun Plant" (see below) adjacent to Malleable Iron; opened March 1941, closed July 2001, razed 2002. For sale by RACER Trust as of May 2013.
  • The 400-acre Saginaw Steering Gear complex in Buena Vista Township; Plant 3 opened 1953 next to the then-new US-23 bypass, adding Plants 4, 5 and 6 by 1966 and a seventh shortly thereafter. Later known as Saginaw Division, then part of Delphi, sold in 2010 to Nexteer Corporation, is supplying GM, Ford and Chrysler as of 2013.
  • Chevrolet Nodular Iron in Buena Vista Township, built 1964–1965, entered production 1967, announced for closure 1986, closed 1988; since demolished. Property for sale by RACER Trust as of May 2013.

Even before the United States entered World War II on the side of the Allies, Saginaw's industrial complex became directed towards military production. Turning its efforts to the production of munitions, ordnance and components for military vehicles made Saginaw a significant contributor to the Allies' eventual victory. Perhaps most famously, Saginaw was home to a production facility that produced .30 caliber machine guns far more quickly and for far less than the Army thought possible, armor-piercing shells for anti-tank use, and over half a million M1 Carbine rifles for the U.S. military during World War II, the "Gun Plant" that later became Steering Gear Plant 2. Saginaw Steering Gear's Plant 1 also began wartime production in 1941, concentrating on ball screws that would eventually be used in the wing flaps of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. Malleable Iron converted its production of Armasteel from engine components to gun parts and tank treads, while Grey Iron specialized in the production of magnesium for use in Pratt and Whitney aeroplane engines.

Migration from across the country, particularly from the Southern United States, drastically increased Saginaw's population during the war years and through the 1950s. This population growth included the expanded presence of African Americans and Latinos in Saginaw. Even before the end of the war, the needs of Saginaw's growth became clear, and were met by significant investment in the city's infrastructure. In 1947, Saginaw and the nearby city of Midland constructed a 65-mile long water supply pipeline drawing water from Whitestone Point in Lake Huron to meet the anticipated needs of the communities. In addition, the cities of Midland and Bay City joined with Saginaw to develop and operate an airport on the site of a former POW camp in nearby Tittabawassee Township, which eventually became MBS International Airport.

Planting the seeds of decline

In the years following World War II, the Michigan state legislature enacted laws making it increasingly difficult for incorporated cities to expand by annexing territory from neighboring townships. Townships, which had historically served an agrarian, smaller population than that of the larger cities, were given the ability to provide nearly all of the same services that an incorporated city could. Although Midland pursued (and continues to pursue) a policy of "No annexation, no water," Saginaw chose instead to sell water to neighboring communities under long-term contracts. This allowed the townships to further develop at the expense of the city, the limits of which changed little after consolidation in 1889–90. The unintended consequence of this choice was that the city of Saginaw stopped growing in population, new housing development focused on the suburban townships, and eventually, businesses would follow.

21st century

Flint & Pere Marquette Union Station, East Saginaw, Michigan
The site of the abandoned Flint & Pere Marquette Union Station, as it appeared in November 2008.

Population decline

The manufacturing presence in Saginaw declined in the latter half of the 20th century, leading to high unemployment throughout the city. As a result, the city's population diminished; from 2000 to 2010, the population of Saginaw proper decreased by nearly ten thousand people, and Michigan's state population during that time period decreased by 0.6% percent, the only U.S. state to lose population during the decade of the 2000s. In addition, Saginaw has faced increasing social problems relating to poverty as a result of its high rate of unemployment. In recent years, Saginaw's crime rate has been a major area of concern for the community as well.

Combating blight

Unemployment and population loss in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has led to blight, a rise in abandoned homes providing locations for criminal activities to occur. In recent years, city officials, local law enforcement, and neighborhood watch associations have made progress in the prevention of these activities by heavily patrolling target areas and offering rewards for reporting illegal or suspicious activities.

Efforts to reduce blight in Saginaw increased greatly in 2013, with the United States Department of the Treasury approving a federally funded grant aimed at demolishing vacant and abandoned properties via the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. The $100 million grant contains $11.2 million set aside for Saginaw, with Detroit receiving $52.3 million, Flint receiving $20.1 million, Pontiac receiving $3.7 million, and the final $2.5 million going to Grand Rapids.

In a press release, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder praised the initiative, saying, "With these federal funds, we'll be able to launch large-scale demolition programs that strike at the blight that is weakening too many neighborhoods in these cities." He added, "This aggressive anti-blight effort will help stabilize neighborhoods that have been struggling for years. As the abandoned properties come down, property values will go up, and crime will go down. That will encourage the people who live in these neighborhoods to stay in their homes and be part of the revitalization of their communities."

The Saginaw city government can only legally tear down blighted properties that are publicly owned, a number that stands above 400. The federal grant provides funds to demolish nearly 950 structures. After the grant's approval, Saginaw city officials announced a program to purchase unwanted, abandoned structures from property owners, which would be then added to the list of homes to tear down. Officials estimate that there are nearly 1,200 privately owned homes within the city limits that are worthy of demolition.

Efforts to revitalize downtown increased in 2013 as well. CBS television executive and Saginaw native David Strouse announced an investment plan in late 2013 that would save nearly an entire block of buildings slated for demolition at the intersection of Washington and Genesee, the core of downtown Saginaw. The plan calls for the renovation and redevelopment of four buildings, creating market-rate apartments on the upper floors and retail space at ground level. In 2012, a similar deal was made in regards to the Bancroft and Eddy apartments, located at the same intersection. Once section-8 housing, these buildings will also be transformed into market-rate apartments and retail space.


Saginaw by MarcinBlus
The Saginaw River freezes in the cold Michigan winter of February 2008.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.10 square miles (46.88 km2), of which, 17.34 square miles (44.91 km2) is land and 0.76 square miles (1.97 km2) is water. Saginaw lies on the Saginaw River, 15 miles (24 km) inland from the Saginaw Bay, an arm of Lake Huron.


Saginaw has a humid continental climate influenced by its inland position not on the shore of one of the Great Lakes of Michigan.

Climate data for Saginaw, Michigan
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 60
Average high °F (°C) 30.4
Daily mean °F (°C) 22.8
Average low °F (°C) 15.1
Record low °F (°C) -11
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.9
Snowfall inches (cm) 11.9
Source: Weatherbase


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 1,699
1870 7,460 339.1%
1880 10,525 41.1%
1890 46,322 340.1%
1900 42,345 −8.6%
1910 50,510 19.3%
1920 61,903 22.6%
1930 80,715 30.4%
1940 82,794 2.6%
1950 92,918 12.2%
1960 98,265 5.8%
1970 91,849 −6.5%
1980 77,508 −15.6%
1990 69,512 −10.3%
2000 61,799 −11.1%
2010 51,508 −16.7%
2020 44,202 −14.2%
U.S. Decennial Census
2018 Estimate

Saginaw is the largest principal city of the Saginaw-Midland-Bay City, MI CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Saginaw-Saginaw Township North (Saginaw County), Midland (Midland County), and Bay City (Bay County) metropolitan areas, which had a combined population of 380,535 at the 2010 census.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 51,508 people, 19,799 households, and 12,252 families residing in the city (excludes townships). The population density was 2,970.5 inhabitants per square mile (1,146.9/km2). There were 23,574 housing units at an average density of 1,359.5 per square mile (524.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 46.1% African American, 43.5% White, 0.5% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 5.2% from other races, and 4.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 14.3% of the population.

There were 19,799 households, of which 36.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 26.9% were married couples living together, 28.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 38.1% were non-families. 32.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.19.

The median age in the city was 33.5 years. 28.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.1% were from 25 to 44; 25% were from 45 to 64; and 10.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.1% male and 52.9% female.


The City of Saginaw consists of many diverse neighborhoods, including:

  • Downtown
  • Old Town
  • Southwest Village
  • Northmoor
  • Heritage Square
  • Cathedral District
  • Houghton Jones Neighborhood
  • South East Side
  • Triangle Parks
  • St. Stephen's Area
  • Brockway-Carmen Park
  • Butman-Fish Neighborhood
  • Redeemer Area
  • Saginaw High Neighborhood
  • Northeast Side
  • Covenant Neighborhood
  • Northwest Neighborhood
  • Sheridan Park
  • The Woods


Historically, ships were able to move along the length of the river inside the city, but fixed bridges built over the river closed access south of the northern docks.

Saginaw was a railroad hub to the Pere Marquette Railway. Freight and passenger routes radiated to Bay City to the north, Port Huron to the east, Toledo to the south, Grand Rapids and Chicago to the southwest and Ludington to the west. Grand Trunk Railroad ran trains from Bay City through Saginaw to Durand, for connections to Chicago, Detroit, Port Huron and Toronto. Most passenger routes were discontinued during the 1950s. The last route to Potter Street Station was in 1950. The station was designated a historic site in 1991. The last New York Central Railroad train (formerly Michigan Central Railroad) departed the Genesee Street Station bound for Detroit in 1964. Today, Saginaw hosts the headquarters of the Lake State Railway who continues to operate trains out of the massive former Pere Marquette Saginaw Yard to destinations that include Midland, Bay City and Plymouth. The Huron and Eastern Railroad operates the former GTW mainline through the city, which intersects with Lake State's Midland Line at Mershon Junction. HESR also operates several lines east into the thumb region towards Vassar and Reese. The Mid-Michigan Railroad plays a bit part in the region as well, interchanging with Lake State at Paines, west of the city. The Saginaw Railway Museum, located on the west side of the city, continues to work towards preservation of the Saginaw Bay area's railroading history.

Saginaw is served primarily by two airports: MBS International Airport, located in nearby Freeland, and Bishop International Airport, located in Flint. Saginaw is also served by three smaller airports: Harry W. Browne Airport in adjacent Buena Vista Township, James Clements Municipal Airport in Bay City, and Jack Barstow Municipal Airport in Midland.

Interstate 75 (I-75) serves as the main arterial route for the Saginaw area while I-675 provides direct access to the center of the city from I-75. I-69 is a nearby east–west corridor providing access to the rest of the Midwestern United States and Canada. The Saginaw River runs through the middle of the city and provides access to Saginaw Bay and the rest of the Great Lakes via docks on the northern side of the city.

In the city and surrounding areas, mass transit is provided by bus under the authority of the Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services (STARS) system. The STARS system connects to Bay City's Bus system at Saginaw Valley State University.

Intercity Bus Service is Provided by Indian Trails, which operates a bus station on the east side of the river.

Major highways

  • I-75 passes along the eastern side of the city through Buena Vista Charter Township.
  • I-675 provides a short freeway loop through downtown Saginaw and back to I-75 through Saginaw Charter Township.
  • M-13 runs from I-69 through downtown Saginaw and north to Standish.
  • M-46 is a cross-peninsular road, running across the mitten and the thumb—from Port Sanilac on the Lake Huron shore, through Saginaw, and then on to Muskegon on the Lake Michigan shore. This east–west surface route nearly bisects the Lower Peninsula of Michigan latitudinally.
  • M-47 passes through the western suburbs and provides a direct connection to MBS International Airport.
  • M-52 runs from the Ohio border through Adrian and Owosso before ending at M-46, in the western suburbs of Saginaw. M-52 also provides an alternate connection to Lansing, Michigan's state capitol.
  • M-58 runs from M-47 to I-675.
  • M-81 runs east from M-13 to Caro and Cass City and ends at M-53 in Sanilac County.
  • M-84 runs from downtown Bay City to M-58 in Saginaw.


The site of a National Register of Historic Places-listed house at 1514 N Michigan, in Saginaw, as it appeared in July 2010.
The Dow Event Center at night
The Dow Event Center at nighttime, as it appeared in December 2004.

Saginaw's entertainment hub can be found in the downtown area, where venues such as The Dow Event Center and the restored Temple Theatre offer live entertainment. The Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra and Saginaw Choral Society are housed in the Temple and each of these organizations perform full concert series annually at the Temple venue. The Saginaw Historical Society is also located downtown in an elaborate castle. Nearby, the Saginaw Art Museum boasts an impressive permanent collection and recently underwent a massive renovation. The Celebration Square area of downtown boasts an authentic Japanese Tea House, the only one of its kind in Michigan. The Andersen Enrichment Center and Rose Gardens are another attraction in Celebration Square offering ongoing art exhibits, a summer jazz concert series, and winter and summer art fairs. Numerous other arts and cultural organizations serve the community including the Saginaw Arts & Enrichment Commission, Eddy Band, Holidays in the Heart of the City, River Junction Poets, Theodore Roethke House of Poetry, Riverside Film Festival, Lawn Chair Film Festival, Friday Night Live Concerts, River Junction Poets and Saginaw Area Watercolor Society. The Dow Event Center is home to the city's junior ice hockey team, the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League as well as The Saginaw Sting, an indoor football team. Downtown Saginaw has recently undergone a resurgence with the addition of the Bancroft Condominiums and Bancroft Martini Bar and Coffee House. A farm to table restaurant, Bradley's Bistro, recently opened. Several other locally owned restaurants and coffee shops dot the area. The downtown Saginaw area contains a number of office buildings from the late 19th century and early 20th century. They are located near the Saginaw Club, a social club founded in 1889. In December 2016 "The Gallery: Art For Saginaw" opened in the newly redeveloped downtown. At roughly 5,000 square feet it is one of the largest public art galleries in the state of Michigan. The Downtown Farmer's Market offers Michigan produce, flowers and baked goods from local bakeries and will be moving to an indoor permanent location in 2017. Downtown is not to be confused with the Old Town/West Side City area located on the other side of the river and about one mile (1.6 km) southwest. Old Town houses many popular bars, and locally owned restaurants, and businesses including its anchor business, Stable Outdoor Outfitters. The city's roster of local arts organizations also includes Pit and Balcony, one of the oldest continuously operating community theaters in the United States, founded in 1932.


The Saginaw Spirit play against the Plymouth Whalers at the Wendler Arena of the Dow Event Center during an Ontario Hockey League season-opening game in September 2005.

The Saginaw area is home to two professional sports teams as well as one NCAA Division-II school that has various sports programs. The Saginaw Spirit is an Ontario Hockey League team that became nationally known when television personality Stephen Colbert promoted the team on his show, The Colbert Report. The Saginaw Sting was an indoor football team that formed in 2007 to play in Saginaw beginning in the 2008 season and is currently on hiatus. At the collegiate level, Saginaw Valley State University competes in numerous sports such as American Football, Basketball, and Volleyball.

Saginaw is also the birthplace of #1 ranked women tennis player in the world Serena Williams

Team Sport League Year founded Venue
Saginaw Spirit Ice hockey Ontario Hockey League 2002 Dow Event Center
Saginaw Valley State University Various Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference 1963 SVSU Campus

Parks and museums

Saginaw's Bliss Park, pictured here in July 2010.

The Castle Museum of Saginaw County History is an important and prominent museum in downtown Saginaw. The museum is housed in a former post office which was built to resemble a castle, and pays homage to the historical French heritage of the area. With over 100,000 artifacts in their collection, the Historical Society of Saginaw County displays items from their collection as well as that of traveling exhibits.

The Andersen Enrichment Center and Lucille E. Andersen Memorial Rose Garden are part of the Saginaw's park system. The facility is used to host private and public events throughout the year. These events include Hollyday Art Fair, Art & Garden Festival, the SAWA Fall Watercolor Exhibition, Jazz in the Rose Garden and Art @ the Andersen and a World AIDS Day service The garden includes a fountain with a sculpture by Marshall Fredericks.

The Saginaw Art Museum hosts temporary exhibitions and permanent collections. The museum also houses The John and Michele Bueker Research Library and Archives of Michigan Art. The museum originated as the home of C.L. Ring who commissioned Charles A. Platt to design the house and gardens. The museum opened to the public in 1948. The museum is a Smithsonian Institution affiliate.

Saginaw is home to a Japanese Cultural Center, Tea House and Garden, as a result of its 52-year Sister-City relationship with Tokushima, Japan. The Garden was completed in 1971. The Tea House, known as Saginaw Awa An, completed in 1986, is considered to be one of the ten most authentic Tea Houses outside the country of Japan. The site is open from April through October, and offers traditional tea ceremonies by appointment, and on the second Saturday of each month. Each year in September a Japan Festival is held in the garden, featuring authentic Japanese singers, dancers and performers, and offering demonstrations of Japanese Culture to those in attendance, including flower arranging, calligraphy, origami, and authentic Japanese cuisine, such as sushi and other dishes.

The city is also home to the Theodore Roethke Home Museum, a National Literary Landmark. The museum honors one of America's greatest 20th Century poets, who was born and raised in Saginaw.


Television stations

Saginaw is part of Nielsen's Flint-Saginaw-Bay City-Midland Designated Market Area which is the 66th largest market in the United States for Television Viewers. Saginaw is the home of CBS affiliate WNEM which maintains its studios and offices inside the city though its license is for Bay City, MI. ABC affiliate WJRT maintains its offices and newsrooms in Saginaw while its studios are in its community of license, Flint. Only NBC affiliate WEYI and Christian station WAQP have the City of Saginaw as their city of record but both maintain their facilities outside of the city. Charter Communications operates a cable television network servicing the City of Saginaw under a franchise agreement.

Television stations in the Saginaw, Michigan area (Ascending order)
Channel Call letters Description Comments
5 WNEM-TV CBS affiliate Licensed to Bay City; studios in Saginaw
12 WJRT-TV ABC affiliate Based and licensed in Flint
19 WDCQ-TV PBS member station Licensed to Bad Axe; studios at Delta College in University Center
24 W24DL-D 3ABN affiliate Based and licensed in Saginaw; programmed via satellite
25 WEYI-TV NBC affiliate Licensed to Saginaw; studios in Clio
46 WBSF CW affiliate Licensed to Bay City; studios in Clio
49 WAQP TCT O&O affiliate Based and licensed in Saginaw
66 WSMH Fox affiliate Based and licensed in Flint

Radio stations

Saginaw and Saginaw Township are home to the three major radio station clusters serving the Greater Tri Cities. Those include family owned and Saginaw-headquartered MacDonald Broadcasting, and corporate broadcasters Alpha Media and Cumulus Media. Radio stations licensed within the immediate Saginaw area are listed. Many locations in the City of Saginaw also receive stations from Bay City, Midland, Flint, and Lansing.

AM radio stations
Frequency Call sign Name Format Owner City
790 AM WSGW Newsradio 790 News/Talk Alpha Media Saginaw
1250 AM WHHQ Ave Maria Radio Religious Ave Maria Communications Bridgeport; simulcasts WMAX (AM) Bay City
1400 AM WSAM The Bay 1400 AM and 104FM Adult Contemporary MacDonald Broadcasting Saginaw
FM radio stations
Frequency Call sign Name Format Owner City
90.9 FM WTRK Air 1 Contemporary Christian Educational Media Foundation Freeland
93.3 FM WKQZ The Rock Station, Z93 Modern rock Cumulus Media Midland; studios in Saginaw
93.7 FM WRCL Club 93.7 Rhythmic contemporary Townsquare Media Frankenmuth; studios in Burton
94.5 FM WCEN-FM 94.5 The Moose Country music Alpha Media Hemlock; studios in Saginaw
96.1 FM WHNN My 96.1 Adult Contemporary Cumulus Media Bay City; studios in Saginaw
98.1 FM WKCQ 98.1 KCQ Country Music MacDonald Broadcasting Saginaw
100.5 FM WSGW-FM FM Talk 100.5 News/Talk Alpha Media Carrollton; studios in Saginaw
102.5 FM WIOG The Hit Music Channel Contemporary hits Cumulus Media Bay City; studios in Saginaw
104.5 FM WILZ Wheelz 104.5 Classic rock Cumulus Media Saginaw
106.3 FM WGER The New Mix 106.3 Adult contemporary music Alpha Media Saginaw
107.1 FM WTLZ KISS 107.1 Urban adult contemporary Alpha Media Saginaw


  • The Saginaw News — Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday
  • Review Magazine — biweekly
  • The Saginaw Press — weekly
  • The Township Times — weekly
  • The Township View — weekly

In popular culture

  • Saginaw is referred to in the Simon & Garfunkel song "America": "It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw, I've gone to look for America."
  • Bill Anderson and Don Wayne wrote a song entitled "Saginaw, Michigan" that has been covered by a dozen artists. Cowboy singer Lefty Frizzell was the first to perform it, with his version reaching number one on the country charts. Also popularly, it was performed by George Jones. The song mis-situates the city on Saginaw Bay, about 15 miles to the north.
  • Saginaw was also referred to as "dreadful" by the bold character Miss Ferenczi in the short story "Gryphon" by Charles Baxter.
  • Saginaw served as the destination point for the Seinfeld characters Kramer and Newman during an episode where the pair hatched a scheme to transport bottles and cans via a United States Postal Service mail truck from New York to Michigan to earn 10¢ per recycled item, as opposed to New York's 5¢.
  • In an episode of the Disney Channel sitcom Even Stevens, the title family's patriarch Steven, played by Tom Virtue, declares that he is a native of Saginaw.
  • Saginaw was a center for songwriting during the late 1800s through the 1940s. The well-known tunes "All of Me" "Toot Toot Tootsie" "It Had to Be You" "After the Ball" "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" "Stand Up Stand Up for Jesus" and many others were either written or co-written by songwriters from Saginaw. More modern examples include "Only Women Bleed" by Dick Wagner and the music catalog of Saginaw native Steveland Morris, aka Stevie Wonder.

Sister cities


Michigan Lutheran Seminary front 1a
Michigan Lutheran Seminary, the only private high school in Saginaw

Higher education

Saginaw is served by Delta College and Saginaw Valley State University, which are located in nearby University Center, Michigan. Central Michigan University maintains an off-campus center inside the city that offers numerous degree programs. Delta College built a downtown satellite facility that opened in the fall of 2019.

Primary and secondary schools

The city of Saginaw is served by the Saginaw Public School District, also known as SPSD. The Saginaw Public School District operates twelve elementary schools, two combined elementary/middle schools, two middle schools, one combined middle/high school, and two high schools. The district is governed by a seven member elected board of education. The board selects a superintendent for the district. The current superintendent is Mr. Nathan Mcclain. The three public high schools in Saginaw are Arthur Hill High School, Saginaw High School, and the Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy. Michigan Lutheran Seminary is the lone private high school in the city. Charter schools in the city are Saginaw Learn to Earn Academy, North Saginaw Charter Academy, Francis Reh Academy, Saginaw Prep schools, and the International Academy of Saginaw.

Notable people

Images for kids

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