West Michigan facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Western Michigan
Lower Peninsula of Michigan
Country United States
State Michigan
A broad definition of West Michigan.
A broad definition of West Michigan.
WestMichiganNarrowDefinition
Map of the region, employing a narrow definition.

West Michigan and Western Michigan are terms for an arbitrarily selected region in the U.S. state of Michigan in its Lower Peninsula. Generally, West Michigan refers to the Grand Rapids- Muskegon- Holland area, however there is no official definition for what constitutes "West Michigan."

Definition

In general, "West Michigan" often refers to the area bounded by the cities of Muskegon (in the north), Grand Rapids (in the northeast), Kalamazoo-Battle Creek (in the southeast) and St.Joseph-Benton Harbor (in the southwest). However, definitions of the boundaries of the region vary widely; in some contexts, the term "West Michigan" is applied only to the counties of Allegan, Kent, Muskegon, and Ottawa, which together compose the Grand Rapids-Wyoming-Muskegon SMSA. Other definitions include the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek and Benton Harbor-St. Joseph regions, which can be considered distinct regions or parts of other regions such as Michiana, Southern Michigan, or Southwest Michigan, in the case of Benton Harbor-St. Joseph.

The northern boundary of the region is also poorly defined; the population density, land use, economic and cultural character, and physical geography most often associated with West Michigan fades in northern Muskegon and Kent Counties, however areas as far north as Ludington and White Cloud may be included because of their close economic ties to the cities to the south. Other areas, such as Montcalm County in the northeast corner of the region, are transitional areas that straddle Michigan regions but are included for classification purposes. In the case of Montcalm County, the area around Greenville in the county's southwest corner is closely tied economically with Grand Rapids, while the area around Vestaburg and Edmore in the northeastern corner of county are more closely associated with the cities of Mount Pleasant and Alma, which are included in almost any definition of Central Michigan.

Geography

  • See also List of Michigan state parks and geography of Michigan.
  • The area is considered to be part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids.
  • In northwest Kent County is Fruit Ridge, which is a prime fruit-growing region; that accounts for 65% of all Michigan apple production.

Municipalities

The following table contains the largest municipalities of West Michigan according to the 2010 Census. This list holds for nearly every geographic definition of West Michigan. If Battle Creek were included, it would be ranked fourth.

Rank Municipality County Population
1 Grand Rapids Kent 188,040
2 Kalamazoo Kalamazoo 74,262
3 Wyoming Kent 72,125
4 Kentwood Kent 48,707
5 Georgetown Charter Township Ottawa 46,985
6 Portage Kalamazoo 46,292
7 Muskegon Muskegon 38,401
8 Holland Charter Township Ottawa 35,636
9 Holland Ottawa/Allegan 33,051
10 Plainfield Charter Township Kent 30,952
11 Gaines Charter Township Kent 25,146
12 Norton Shores Muskegon 23,994
13 Walker Kent 23,537
14 Kalamazoo Charter Township Kalamazoo 21,918
15 Oshtemo Charter Township Kalamazoo 21,705
16 Allendale Charter Township Ottawa 20,708
17 Byron Township Kent 20,317
18 Muskegon Charter Township Muskegon 17,840
19 Park Township Ottawa 17,802
20 Cascade Charter Township Kent 17,134
21 Grand Rapids Charter Township Kent 16,661
22 Grandville Kent 15,378
23 Grand Haven Charter Township Ottawa 15,178

Five of the above cities, Wyoming, Kentwood, Portage, Norton Shores, and Walker, are former suburban townships that incorporated in the 1960s in order to prevent annexation by an adjacent city. The presence of these cities in the top ten reflects both the large geographic area of these cities, as well as the long and continuing growth of suburban areas in West Michigan.

Events

  • ArtPrize in Grand Rapids
  • National Baby Food Festival in Fremont
  • Big Rapids Riverdays in Big Rapids
  • Celebration on the Grand in Grand Rapids
  • Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven
  • Festival of the Arts in Grand Rapids
  • Fruitport Old Fashioned Days in Fruitport
  • Spring Lake Heritage Festival in Spring Lake
  • Muskegon Air Show (now defunct)
  • Muskegon Film Festival
  • Muskegon Summer Celebration(now defunct)
  • Red Flannel Festival in Cedar Springs
  • Rothbury Music Festival in Rothbury
  • Tulip Time Festival in Holland
  • Unity Christian Music Festival in Muskegon
  • Venetian Festival in St. Joseph
  • Waterfront Film Festival in Saugatuck

Attractions

  • Croton Dam
  • Dutch Village
  • Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
  • Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum
  • Grand Haven Musical Fountain
  • Grand Haven State Park
  • Grand Rapids Art Museum
  • Grand Rapids Children's Museum
  • Hardy Dam
  • Holland State Park, busiest state park in Michigan
  • John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids
  • Kalamazoo Air Zoo
  • Kruizenga Art Museum
  • Manistee National Forest
  • Michigan's Adventure amusement park
  • Newaygo State Park
  • P.J. Hoffmaster State Park
  • Public Museum of Grand Rapids
  • Timber Ridge Ski Area
  • Binder Park Zoo

Business

Prominent West Michigan corporations include:

Transportation

Major airports

  • Gerald R. Ford International Airport
  • Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport
  • Muskegon County Airport
  • West Michigan Regional Airport

Railways

  • CSX
  • Norfolk Southern Railway
  • Grand Elk Railroad
  • Coopersville and Marne Railway
  • Grand Rapids Eastern Railroad
  • Michigan Lake Shore Railroad
  • Grand Trunk Western Railway

Major roads

Interstate highways

US highways

Michigan highways

Other

  • Eastern port of the Lake Express High Speed Car Ferry; Muskegon
  • The SS Badger in Ludington

West Michigan Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.