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Muskegon, Michigan

The entrance to Muskegon Lake from Lake Michigan at Muskegon, Michigan
The entrance to Muskegon Lake from Lake Michigan at Muskegon, Michigan
Muskegon (mus-k g'n) is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 38,401. The city is the county seat of Muskegon County. The city is located at the southwest corner of Muskegon Township, but is administratively autonomous.

Muskegon is the greater populated of two principal cities in the Muskegon-Norton Shores Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 172,188 as of 2010. It is further included in the larger Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland Combined Statistical Area (CSA) with a population of 1,321,557.[1]

Muskegon is the largest city on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan.


Geography and climate

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.0 square miles (46.7 km ), of which, 14.4 square miles (37.2 km ) of it is land and 3.7 square miles (9.5 km ) of it (20.37%) is water. The city is adjacent to two bodies of water: Lake Michigan to the west and Muskegon Lake to the north. The Muskegon River empties into Muskegon Lake at the city's northeast end.

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Geographic features


As of the census of 2000, there were 40,105 people, 14,569 households, and 8,537 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,794.5 per square mile (1,079.1/km ). There were 15,999 housing units at an average density of 1,114.8 per square mile (430.5/km ). The racial makeup of the city was 57.9% White, 31.7% African American, 2.3% Native American, 0.46% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.69% from other races, and 3.50% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any origins were 6.4% of the population.

There were 14,569 households out of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.2% were married couples living together, 20.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.4% were non-families. 34.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.13.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.8% under the age of 18, 11.6% from 18 to 24, 32.2% from 25 to 44, 18.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 109.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 110.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,929, and the median income for a family was $32,640. Males had a median income of $29,114 versus $22,197 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,283. About 16.8% of families and 20.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.6% of those under age 18 and 14.3% of those age 65 or over.


Muskegon Lake
Muskegon Lake
Human occupation of the Muskegon area goes back seven or eight thousand years to the nomadic Paleo-Indian hunters who occupied the area following the retreat of the Wisconsonian glaciations. The Paleo-Indians were succeeded by several stages of woodland Indian developments, the most notable of whom were the Hopewellian type-tradition, which occupied this area, perhaps two thousand years ago.

During historic times, the Muskegon area was inhabited by various bands of the Ottawa and Pottawatomi Indian tribes. Perhaps the best remembered of the Indian inhabitants of the area was Ottawa Indian Chief, Pendalouan. A leading participant in the French-inspired annihilation of the Fox Indians of Illinois in the 1730s, he and his people lived in the Muskegon vicinity during the 1730s and 1740s, until induced by the French to move the settlement to the Traverse Bay area in 1742.

"Muskegon" is derived from the Ottawa Indian term "Masquigon" meaning "marshy river or swamp".[3] The "Masquigon" river was identified on French maps dating from the late seventeenth century, suggesting that French explorers had reached Michigan's western coast by that time.

Father Jacques Marquette traveled northward through the area on his fateful trip to St. Ignace in 1675 and a party of French soldiers under La Salle's lieutenant, Henry de Tonty, passed through the area in 1679.

The earliest known Euro-American resident of the county was Edward Fitzgerald, a fur trader and trapper who first came to the Muskegon area in 1748 and who died here, reportedly being buried in the vicinity of White Lake. Sometime between 1790 and 1800, a French-Canadian trader named Joseph La Framboise established a fur trading post at the mouth of Duck Lake. Between 1810 and 1820, several French Canadian fur traders, including Lamar Andie, Jean Baptiste Recollect, and Pierre Constant had established fur trading posts around Muskegon Lake.

In 1830 Muskegon was an Ottawa village.[4]

Euro-American settlement of Muskegon began in earnest in 1837, which coincided with the beginning of the exploitation of the area's extensive timber resources. The commencement of the lumber industry in 1837 inaugurated what some regard as the most romantic era in the history of the region.

Commerce and industry

Major employers

  • Alcoa-Howmet Castings (Whitehall, MI, formerly Misco) - Aerospace components manufacturing<
    • L3 Communications (formerly Teledyne) - Armored vehicle manufacturing
    • GE Aviation - Muskegon, (formerly Johnson Technology) - Turbine engine components manufacturing
    • Kaydon Corp - Precision Bearings
    • Consumers Energy - Coal-fired power plant
    • Mahle (Formerly Dana (formerly Sealed Power)) - Piston Rings - Aerospace
    • West Michigan Steel
    • Wesco, inc. (Headquarters)
    • Cannon-Muskegon Corporation - Specialty alloys
    • Cole's Foods - Frozen Foods
    • Nugent Sand
    • Michigan's Adventure - Amusement Park
    • Reid Supply Company
    • Great Lakes Die Cast (formerly Dilesco)
    • Anderson Global (Formerly Anderson Pattern)
    • Mercy Health - Member of Trinity Health
    • Century Foundry
    • Knoll Inc.
    • Port City Group
    • Meijer
    • SAF-Holland - Muskegon (Formerly Neway Equipment Company) - Comercial vehicle axles, suspensions and coupling devices


    Major shopping districts in the Muskegon area include:
    • Lakeside: Lakeside is home to the Lake Express, a ferry that crosses Lake Michigan to and from Wisconsin, and currently the center of tourist based retail shopping. Lakeside features "wonderful attractions" such as an art gallery, and the Lakeside Emporium candy store. It also features restaurants which give people a feel for the local color and flavor that makes Lakeside a distinct area of the city. The area, together with the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, is considered by many to be the 'spiritual heart' of Muskegon and has long been home to many of the city's leading residents and businesses. Lakeside is home to the Muskegon Recreation Club, the oldest chartered fraternal organization in the State of Michigan. First chartered in 1902 and still in the same location, it's famous for its perch fries.
    • Henry St.: Henry Street from Seminole Rd. to Sherman Blvd. is a corridor and is anchored at Norton Ave. by Meijer and the nearby Wal-Mart. The Sherman Blvd. end features a Home Depot and a Walgreens. Throughout the street are several strip malls and chain restaurants.
    • Downtown: Formerly the location of the Muskegon Mall, an experiment in 1970s city revitalization which saw the existing downtown infrastructure altered and covered by a glass-and-metal construct. The Muskegon Mall began to fail in the 1990s and was officially shuttered in 2002, and razed in 2004. Today, a major redevelopment effort involving government, business, and citizen interests is in place to restore the downtown portion of the city. At the moment, the downtown area features the beginning of a retail shopping experience and has many restaurants and features two full-service hotels. During warm months, the downtown area also features a large Farmers' Market dedicated to showcasing the best in locally-grown foods, flowers, nursery stock, handicrafts and baked goods. There are also many historic buildings and cultural attractions, including the famed Frauenthal Theatre; Muskegon Museum of Art; the Robert Hunt Sculpture, "Muskegon Rising"; Hackley and Hume Historic Site; and Hackley Library.
    • Apple Avenue: Apple Avenue shopping is a shared corridor between the City of Muskegon and Muskegon Township. On the city side, stores such as K-Mart, Family Dollar, and the Muskegon Laundromat provide retail options to residents on the east side of the city. There are also many popular dining options in the nearby area. East of US 31 is one of the area's fastest growing shopping areas, supporting the population growth of the eastern side of the metro area.
    • East Sherman Blvd.: Just east of US 31, the area is home to Sam's Club, Wal-Mart and Lowes. East Sherman Blvd. also features a few strip mall developments, a motel, and several chain eateries.
    • Harvey St. Corridor: This is a relatively newly developed area in Fruitport Township near the intersection of US 31 and I-96. This has become the main retail area in the county. Highlighted by The Lakes Mall, it features the typical mix of big box retailers, national chain restaurants (Red Lobster, Logan's, Red Robin, Texas Roadhouse, Olive Garden, Bob Evans, Perkin's, Brann's, Buffalo Wild Wings) and stores (Kohl's Department Stores, Menards, Best Buy). New to this area is Target. Target recently relocated from the East Sherman Blvd. shopping area.
    • Wood St. Corridor: This area is filled with many local entrepreneurs and freelance distributors. It is a good place to go to find items you would not find in most stores. It runs from Jackson Hill to the north to Laketon Avenue in the south. Locals commonly refer to the area as the "Woo".

    Government and infrastructure

    The Michigan Department of Corrections operates the Muskegon Correctional Facility in southeastern Muskegon. The prison first opened in 1974.[5]

The United States Postal Service operates the Muskegon Post Office.[6]


Muskegon Public Schools was founded in 1860 and serves students from preschool through 12th grade. Additionally, it runs the Muskegon Museum of Art and the Muskegon Training and Education Center. In addition to Muskegon Public Schools, the anchor district for the city, there are several other public K-12 schools. These include Mona Shores, Reeths-Puffer, North Muskegon, Fruitport, Orchard View, Oakridge, and Muskegon Heights. As well as private K-12 schools: Muskegon Catholic Central, Fruitport Calvary Christian, and Western Michigan Christian.

In 2010, North Muskegon High School was noted as the top performing public school in the State of Michigan by the state Department of Education.[7]

On a side note, many of these schools are noted throughout the state for high school sports. Muskegon High School ranks first in the state of Michigan, and in the top 15 nationally in all-time football victories, Muskegon Orchard View, Muskegon Oakridge and Muskegon Catholic Central have been perennial powerhouses in MHSAA football playoffs. Muskegon is a city known for their high school football. Muskegon Heights and Western Michigan Christian rank among the top schools in total boys basketball crowns. Mona Shores has emerged as a regular player in the MHSAA Hockey Final Four.

The City of Muskegon is also served by Muskegon Community College and Baker College.

Grand Valley State University's Muskegon Campus is home to the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC) and Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI) inside the Lake Michigan Center located in downtown Muskegon.

Western Michigan University, Ferris State University, and Grand Valley State University all operate programs out of the Stevenson Center for Higher Education on the campus of Muskegon Community College. It is designed so that an undergrad at MCC may transfer to any of the above schools and complete a bachelors and/or masters degree without having to leave Muskegon.

Culture and recreation

Music and fine arts

Muskegon is home to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, located in the Manistee National Forest in the town of Twin Lake.

Once a movie house, the Frauenthal Center for the Performing Arts includes two theatres (the main Frauenthal house and the smaller Beardsley Theatre in the adjoining Hilt Building). It reopened 11 years ago, and runs JAM Theatrical productions, Muskegon Civic Theatre productions, is home of the West Shore Symphony Orchestra, is the venue for all Muskegon Community Concert Association events, and used to be home to the now-defunct Cherry County Playhouse.

Muskegon also has one the of founding chapters of the Barbershop Harmony Society.

Muskegon also houses a moderate-sized private collection of fine art in the Muskegon Museum of Art.


The United States Post Office in Muskegon, 1904.
The United States Post Office in Muskegon, 1904.
Muskegon Summer Celebration was an eleven-day festival, held during the July 4 holiday every year, that brought national music acts of all backgrounds to the shore of Muskegon Lake at Heritage Landing. Also included was the Muskegon Art Fair, street fair, Village Craft Market, and the carnival rides. A new festival is being planned to replace Summer Celebration in 2012.

Muskegon Bike Time will be held July 15 17, 2011. From the website: Over 35,000 bikes (with 38 states and Canada represented) and 90,000 people visited the lakeshore community of Muskegon, Michigan for the event in 2010.

The Muskegon Motorcycle Club, organized in 1920, host the Hill Climb every other year, an American Motorcycle Association (AMA) sanctioned race.

The Muskegon Film Festival is held in May.

Each August, the Unity Christian Music Festival takes place at Heritage Landing. In May, Rock the Coast takes place at Michigan's Adventure. Both are organized by Alive on the Lakeshore.

In September, the Michigan Irish Music Festival brings renown Celtic musicians to Heritage Landing on the shore of Muskegon Lake. In addition to music, Irish food, beverages, merchandise and cultural exhibits contribute to the appeal of this event. The Michigan Feis (Irish Dance competition) is affiliated and is held at Muskegon Catholic Central High School.

In early October, the International Buster Keaton Society visit Muskegon to host their annual convention. The event features public showings of Keaton films at the Frauenthal Theater.

Museums and theater

USS Silversides (SS-236) at The Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum, Muskegon, Michigan
USS Silversides (SS-236) at The Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum, Muskegon, Michigan
Broadway at the Frauenthal (Fall through Spring), brings big-time Broadway musicals to Muskegon. Muskegon is also home to Muskegon Museum of Art and West Shore Symphony Orchestra. The Muskegon Community Concert Association provides concerts from September through May.

Muskegon County Museum and Hackley & Hume Historic Site: Mansions built by Muskegon's lumber barons themselves are restored to their old glory and open to the public. The mansions are operated with the Muskegon County Museum, which details the grand, rich history of Muskegon County, from the Pottawatomi and Ottawa Native American tribes and lakeside fur traders to the Lumber Queen of the World to today. Also includes science and nature exhibits.

The Muskegon Museum of Art deservedly is touted as one of the finest art museums in the Midwest. Among the highlights of its permanent collection is Tornado Over Kansas, by John Steuart Curry (one of three leading painters, along with Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton, identified as Regionalists and known for their canvases celebrating the rural Midwest.)[8]

Muskegon is also the home of the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum, which features the USS Silversides, a World War II submarine; the USS LST-393, a World War II amphibious landing ship; and the USCGC McLane, a Prohibition-era United States Coast Guard cutter.

In addition, Muskegon also berths the legendary S.S. Milwaukee Clipper, a former car ferry that traveled the same route as Lake Express does today. The ship (which is a National Historic Landmark) is in the middle of a long process of being restored to its original form, but in the mean time is open for tours and hosts a museum aboard the vessel with information on both the Milwaukee Clipper, as well as the history of Maritime in Muskegon. Muskegon's entire history surrounds around being a port for commerce or travel, and this is an image the city has embraced.

  • Carr-Fles Planetarium, Muskegon

The Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame exhibits, detailing the area's rich athletic past, are on display at the L.C. Walker Arena.

Camerata Singers, a professional chamber choir, performs at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in downtown Muskegon and other locations in west Michigan.

The Harbor Theater in the lakeside neighborhood is a non profit community theater that shows new Independent, foreign, and classic films. They also host guest speakers presenting films.

Outdoor recreation

Muskegon Break Water Light on Lake Michigan, looking from Pere Marquette Beach
Muskegon Break Water Light on Lake Michigan, looking from Pere Marquette Beach

Muskegon State Park and Winter Sports Complex with all season Luge run.

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park[9]

Pere Marquette Beach The largest free public beach on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. Windsurfing, Kite boarding competitions, and professional volleyball tournaments are held here. Its quartz sand beach is a Clean Beaches Counsel certified beach.

Muskegon Lake is a 1st. class Walleye fishery and has many other freshwater species including the Lake Perch. Lake Michigan off Muskegon host large numbers of Coho and Chinook Salmon, Steelhead, and Brown trout, Lake Perch and many other game fish.

Sailing and recreational boating are major summer pastimes with many services and marinas in the area for boats of all sizes.

Muskegon Lakeshore Bike Trail Bike along the shores of Muskegon Lake to Lake Michigan. There are two trails that consist the Muskegon Bike paths, one runs along the east side of Muskegon and the other along the North side.

Michigan's Adventure, the largest amusement park in the state, is located in Muskegon County, a few miles north of the city of Muskegon. Michigan's Adventure features a midway with roller coasters, general rides, amusements, and a full water park.


Muskegon has a long history of involvement in professional and nonprofessional sports.

Previous sports teams to play in Muskegon have included:

The Chronicle Seaway Run is run every year in late June. It features a 15k race, 5k race, 5k walk for fun, 15k wheelchair race.


  • Muskegon's leading newspaper is The Muskegon Chronicle. The Chronicle is a daily newspaper in Muskegon, Michigan owned by Booth Newspapers. It started publication in 1857.
  • Muskegon is served by several local television channels:
    • WMKG-CA 38 is a low-powered television station serving the area. This station features a homey mix of programming such as television bingo and Dial-A-Bargain. The Dial-A-Bargain show includes a host reading menus from various local eateries. Viewers may then call in and purchase certificates for that particular establishment at 50% off the regular price.
    • DSETV-97 is the locally run Government-access television (GATV) cable TV channel based out of City Hall Privately ran by Digital Spectrum Enterprises on Comcast Cable Channel 97. It features Live televised City Hall meetings as well as a long list of locally made television shows showcasing Muskegon. It also is home to Local Sporting events.
    • MCCTV-98 is Muskegon Community College's television outlet on Comcast Cable Channel 98.
    • WWMT-TV 3 (CBS and CW), WOOD-TV 8 (NBC), WZZM-TV 13 (ABC), WXMI-TV 17 (FOX), WOMS-TV 29 (MNTV), WGVU-TV 35 (PBS), WOTV (ABC), WZPX (ION), and WTLJ-TV 54 (TBN). Green Bay, Milwaukee, South Bend, and Chicago affiliates are also common in the warmer months.
  • Comcast holds the local cable franchise.
  • The Muskegon area is also served by several radio stations. WUVS-LP 103.7 is a popular urban (hip-hop/R&B) and gospel station with local programming as well as Sunday religious programming and local-based talk. Another local low-powered FM station is WMMT-LP 106.1, owned by the Muskegon Training and Education Center, which airs an Urban Oldies format dubbed "M-TEC 106 FM, Rock 'n' Soul."
  • Local radio talk shows include the Ramona Show on WKBZ 1090. On this show the host interviews local small business people. A once-a-week, Friday afternoon show on the same station is called "Talking Muskegon". "Talking Muskegon" is hosted by local celebrity Jon Van Wyke. It features homey conversations about area nightlife, his work life and volunteer activities he is involved with around town. In addition, he talks about conditions backstage at Summer Celebration, his sailboat and the state of the professional hockey team the Muskegon Fury. Usually the show is co-hosted with two of his friends. T
  • Other local FM stations include 90.3 WBLV-FM (classical/jazz/NPR), 91.7 WMCQ-FM (religious), WLAW-FM 92.5 ("outlaw" country), WGVS-FM 95.3 (public radio), WWSN FM 97.5 (sports), WLCS-FM 98.3 (oldies), WVIB-FM 100.1 (urban contemporary), WMRR-FM 101.7 (classic rock), WSNX-FM 104.5 (top 40, studios in Grand Rapids), WMUS-FM 106.9 (country), and WMUS FM 107.9 (adult contemporary). Other local AM stations aside from WKBZ include WGVS 850 (NPR), WKLQ 1490 (sports), and WMHG-AM 1600 (adult standards). Other area stations can be received from Grand Haven (WGHN-FM 92.1, adult contemporary), Grand Rapids (WGRD-FM 97.9), Ludington, Holland, Zeeland (WJQK-FM 99.3, Christian pop), and Milwaukee.
  • Clear Channel Communications is the major radio-station owner in Muskegon, owning WKBZ-AM, WSHZ-FM, WMUS-FM, WMRR-FM and WMHG-AM, as well as WSNX (although WSNX is considered primarily a Grand Rapids station despite being licensed to Muskegon). Citadel Broadcasting owns WODJ-AM, WLAW-FM, WEFG-FM, WLCS-FM and WVIB-FM.


Public transportation is provided by the Muskegon Area Transit System (MATS - "The Shore Line"), which operates nine bus routes, three trolley routes, and a paratransit system[10]

MATS operates the Muskegon Trolley Company. Three routes cover north side, south side, and downtown; each trolley stops at 11 locations, including Hackley and Hume Historic Site, USS Silversides, Muskegon State Park. (Memorial Day-Labor Day, daily; no trips during special events).

Commercial air service is provided by United Airlines at Muskegon County Airport (MKG). Other airlines service the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) in Grand Rapids.

Muskegon is the Eastern port of the Lake Express High Speed Car Ferry that crosses Lake Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin offering three roundtrips a day in the Summer, and two roundtrips in the Fall. There are many bike paths starting to be built around the area.

Several major highways serve the city, including:

Major roads


U.S. Highways

Other state highways

Sister cities

Notable current/former residents


Business and politics


Science and technology

The arts


  • Haddon Sundblom, Graphic Arts Designer best known for his images of Santa Claus for Coca-Cola.







External links

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