You’d Never Guess Michigan’s 10 Most Populated Cities in 1850
A few decades after Michigan became a state, the list of the Michigan's most populated cities look nothing like today.
As of the 2010 census, Michigan's largest cities were Detroit, Grand Rapids, Warren, Sterling Heights and Lansing.
Roll things back to 1850 and the list of the largest cities in the state look much different. Detroit was still the largest city in the state with 21,000 residents. But the rest of the list...
2 - Monroe 2,813
3 - Grand Rapids 2,686
4 - Kalamazoo 2,507
5 - Jackson 2,363
6 - Marshall 1,972
7 - Pontiac 1,681
8 - Flint 1,670
9 - Port Huron 1,584
10 - Mount Clemens 1,302
Monroe in the number two spot is certainly surprising to us today, but not so much given the state's history with southeast Michigan being the first area of the state settled and Monroe being the one of the first villages to incorporate in the state, which happened in 1827.
Grand Rapids overtakes Monroe by 1860 and becomes Michigan's second city for every decade save for the 1960s when its briefly out-populated by Flint.
Landing in the #4 position is Kalamazoo. The largest city in Southwest Michigan would remain a Top 5 Michigan city through 1870 and fall out of the top 10 after 1960.
How about Marshall. The city certainly has lots of history and the 1850s, on the statewide level, must be the high-water mark. It never again is among the 10 largest cities in Michigan.
Lansing wouldn't make the list of top cities in Michigan until 1860 when it clocked in with 3,074 people.
BONUS VIDEO - Trying to Explain the Michigan Accent