The second half of the 19th century was the period of great growth in the village, with many workers employed in the lumber and shipping industries. Rafts of lumber would fill the St. Clair River to be worked at Marine City or Detroit. Shipyards built some of the many ships that crossed the Great Lakes. Lake steamers linked passengers with small towns around the lakes. Their decks were full and their flags were flying. Marine City had a park by the river and a gazebo where bands would play in the summer.
As the lumber business ran down, the area became linked to other resource extraction. Ships carried iron from the Mesabi Range to Ashtabula, Ohio for steel. Marine City was where the captains of lake ships lived. Many worked for Pittsburgh Steamship Company, piloting iron ore ships from Duluth, Minnesota, to Ashtabula, Ohio, for instance.
There were 1,860 households out of which 33.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.2% were married couples living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.8% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.15.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.6% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 30.5% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 14.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 90.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $40,146, and the median income for a family was $47,308. Males had a median income of $39,228 versus $23,677 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,722. About 7.6% of families and 8.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.0% of those under age 18 and 16.1% of those age 65 or over.