Kalamazoo is the largest city in the southwest region of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is the county seat of Kalamazoo County. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 77,145. It is the major city of the Kalamazoo-Portage, MI MSA, which had an estimated population of 323,264 as of 2007.
Kalamazoo is home to Western Michigan University, a nationally recognized research institution that has benefited from the local presence of Pfizer, Eaton Corporation and Stryker Corporation. This has enabled the school to offer strong programs in both its College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Haworth College of Business.
The city is also home to Kalamazoo College (often referred to as "K College"), a liberal arts school located adjacent to WMU's campus.
The city is named for the Kalamazoo River, but there is debate as to where the name Kalamazoo actually comes from. It is generally thought the name originates in the language of either the Potawatomi or Odawa peoples who were native to the area at the time of European settlement.
The common phrase "from Timbuktu to Kalamazoo" resulted from the strange name, and has served to enter it into pop culture. Today, t-shirts are sold in Kalamazoo with the phrase "Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo".
There are numerous songs that reference the city name in lyrics and title, including: "All Over The World" by Rascalz, "Down on the Corner" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, "I've Been Everywhere" by Hank Snow and Johnny Cash; "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" by Glenn Miller; "Kalamazoo" by Ben Folds Five; "Kalamazoo" by Primus; "Kalamazoo" by Luna; and Kalamazoo by Mike Craver on his album "Shining Down". The word also features in the opera Einstein on the Beach by Philip Glass. An indie film, Kalamazoo?, features the city as a backdrop.
The area on which the modern city stands was once home to Native Americans of the Hopewell culture, who migrated into the area sometime before the first millennium. Evidence of their early residency still remains in the form of a small mound downtown in Bronson Park. The Hopewell civilization began to decline at some point after the eighth century and was replaced by other groups. The Pottawatomi culture was resident in the area at the time the first European explorers arrived.
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle is recorded as having passed through the area, just southeast of the present city, in late March, 1680. The first Europeans to reside in the area were itinerant fur traders in the late 18th and early 19th century. There are records of several traders wintering in the area, and by the 1820s at least one trading post had been established.
During the War of 1812, the British established a smithy and a prison camp in the area.
The 1821 Treaty of Chicago ceded all the territory south of the Grand River to the United States federal government. However, the area around present-day Kalamazoo was reserved as the village of Potawatomi Chief Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish. Six years later, as a result of the 1827 Treaty of St. Joseph, the tract that became the city was also ceded.
In 1829, Titus Bronson, originally from Connecticut, was the first white settler to build a cabin within the present city limits. He platted the town in 1831 and named it the village of Bronson (not to be confused with the much-smaller Bronson, Michigan about fifty miles (80 km) to the south-southeast).
Bronson was frequently described as "eccentric" and argumentative and was later run out of town. The village of Bronson was renamed Kalamazoo in 1836 (due in part to an incident resulting in Bronson's being fined for stealing a cherry tree). Today, a hospital and a park, among other things, are named after Titus Bronson.
Kalamazoo legally incorporated as a village in 1838 and as a city in 1883.
On August 27, 1856, Abraham Lincoln spoke at a rally in Kalamazoo's Bronson Park, promoting the presidential candidacy of John C. Fremont, who was running on the ticket of the newly formed Republican Party. The occasion marks Lincoln's only visit or public address within the State.
The Kalamazoo Mall, the first outdoor pedestrian shopping mall in the United States, began with the closing of Burdick Street to auto traffic in 1959. The four block long mall, stretching from Lovell Street on the South to Eleanor Street on the north, has been restyled to match the attributes of the Arcadia Commons development, where the new Kalamazoo Public Museum anchors the north end of the mall. In 1999, however, two blocks of the mall were modified to accommodate auto traffic after a period of political debates on the issue. The creation of the mall gave Kalamazoo the name of "Mall City."
In the Fall of 1971, the Kalamazoo Public Schools system was ordered by a Federal Judge to be integrated after he found the school system to be unlawfully segregated. The judge's determination was the culmination of nearly a decade of racially charged incidents and protests, included several city-wide school closures. A program of two-way bussing was implemented in September 1971, in which the city's black students were transported from downtown Kalamazoo in the north and east sections of the city to predominantly white neighborhoods on the west side, and vice versa. The program was closely watched by education experts as the city's population more closely mirrored the demographic make up of the United States as a whole than any other jurisdiction. The bussing program continued through the late 1990s.
Beginning in 1971, numerous white families moved from the Kalamazoo Public Schools to adjacent districts, particularly Portage Public Schools to the south and Mattawan Consolidated School to the west. Despite a nearly 10 percent population reduction over the next two decades, the integration plan was more successful than in other large Michigan districts where "white flight" was more severe.
The city is situated mainly on the southwest bank of a major bend in the Kalamazoo River, with a small portion, approximately 7.3 km² (2.8 sq mi), on the opposite bank. Several small tributaries of the river, including Arcadia Creek and Portage Creek, wind through the city. The northeastern portion of the city sits in the broad, flat Kalamazoo Valley, whilst in the western portions the terrain becomes a series of low hills spreading out to the west and south. Several small lakes are found throughout the area.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 25.2 square miles (65.2 km²), of which, 24.7 square miles (63.9 km²) of it is land and 1.3 km² (0.5 sq mi) of it (1.99%) is water.
Kalamazoo is located approximately halfway between Detroit and Chicago.
Another watershed, Kleinstuck Marsh, is very popular with hikers and birdwatchers. Kleinstuck Marsh is located south of Maple Street, between Westnedge Avenue (Kalamazoo's major north-south artery) and Oakland Drive.
Kalamazoo is situated in West Michigan.
There were 29,413 households out of which 24.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.6% were married couples living together, 14.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.2% were non-families. 34.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.99.
In the city the population was spread out with 20.3% under the age of 18, 27.6% from 18 to 24, 26.8% from 25 to 44, 15.2% from 45 to 64, and 10.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 93.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.9 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $31,189, and the median income for a family was $42,438. Males had a median income of $32,160 versus $25,532 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,897. About 13.6% of families and 24.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.0% of those under age 18 and 11.3% of those age 65 or over.
The city of Kalamazoo is commonly divided into twenty-two neighborhoods, many of which are served by a neighborhood association. The Neighborhood Development Division of the city's government works with these associations to invest federal, state, and local funds, including those from the Community Development Block Grant program, in community improvements and economic growth.
There is a great diversity in the character of the neighborhoods. Closer to the city center are historical residential areas such as Stuart, full of Victorian and Queen Anne homes. Neighborhoods in the south west corner of the city are home to the wealthier inhabitants and contain modern developments with more open spaces. The Central Business District and the neighborhoods to the south along Westnedge Avenue (Westnedge Hill, Southside, Vine, and South Westnedge) contain much of the area's retail shopping, mixed with a residential populace. Just west of downtown are the campuses of Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University, surrounded by several blocks of student housing. Neighborhoods north and east of the city center tend to be lower income. The city's Hispanic population is focused on the south and east side, in the Edison neighborhood. The Edison neighborhood is also becoming a center for the city's gay and lesbian community.
Kalamazoo is home to Western Michigan University. The college has four campuses in Kalamazoo, (West Campus, East Campus, Parkview Campus and Oakland Drive Campus) as well as several satellite campuses throughout Michigan. West Campus, located just west of downtown, has by far the largest concentration of university students, programs and school services. The school is one of the 50 largest universities in the nation, and one of the top 100 public universities in the country. In 2005, the university had over 26,000 students and employed over 1,200 faculty. Also in 2005, Western Michigan ranked #2 Wireless Campus in the U.S. in a national survey done by the Intel Corporation.
Western Michigan University is also the home of the International Congress on Medieval Studies, held each year in May, and organized by the Medieval Institute. The Congress brings some 3,000 professors and students from around the globe to present and discuss a variety of topics on the Middle Ages. Graduate students play an important role in its organization.
Kalamazoo College, one of the first educational institutions in the state of Michigan and a pioneer in the field of coeducation, resides next door to WMU. The school was ranked #1 in Study Abroad programs by US News & World Report 2003 Edition America's Best Colleges, with 80% of students spending at least one term abroad. It was also the #1 school in 2005 for recruitment into the Peace Corps (per capita).
Because of very generous private donations from several anonymous individuals, every resident graduate of the Kalamazoo Public Schools is provided with a scholarship for up to 100% of tuition and mandatory fee costs for four years at any public university or community college in Michigan, starting with the class of 2006. This program is known as the Kalamazoo Promise. Books and room and board are not included.
The most well known is Bell's, originally established as the Kalamazoo Brewing Company in 1985 by its founder, Larry Bell. The brewery has expanded from its original Kalamazoo location, which houses the Eccentric Cafe, to a modern, state-of–the-art brewery located in nearby Comstock. Bell's beer can now be found at retailers in many parts of the country. In Illinois, however, beers from this brewery are sold under another brand name because of a dispute between Larry Bell and his former distributor, when the distributor sold the distribution rights to another distributor without Bell's consent. The new beers for Illinois distribution are sold as "Kalamazoo" and the label notes that they are "Brewed especially for the people of the great state of Illinois."
Kraftbräu Brewery, was across the street and a few feet east from Bell's Eccentric Cafe. Another local entertainment venue in a brewery atmosphere, sadly Kraftbrau's original location closed at the end of 2007 due to irreconcilable differences with the landlord after the rent was doubled from $1700 to $3400, as well as gross mismanagement of the bar. Fortunately this story may have a happy ending after all, as Kraftbrau has found a new location in Kalamazoo at 615 2nd st. The new location is reportedly larger than the original and is slated to open at the end of summer 2008.
Olde Peninsula is another downtown brewpub featuring a small selection of craft beers to accompany its diverse menu.
Bilbo's Pizza, located near Western Michigan's campus, also features a microbrewery.
Kalamazoo is also home to Kalsec, another flavorings company, which was founded by Paul H. Todd, Jr., Albert Todd's grandson and U.S. Representative in the 89th Congress. Founded as the Kalamazoo Spice Extraction Company, Kalsec is owned and managed by Todd family descendants.
In the past, Kalamazoo was known for its production of windmills, mandolins, buggies, automobiles, cigars, stoves, paper, and paper products. Agriculturally, it once was noted for celery and bedding plants. Although much has become suburbanized, the countryside still continues to produce significant quantities of farm crops.
One notable business founded in Kalamazoo was the Gibson Guitar Corporation, which spawned the still-local Heritage Guitars. The company was incorporated originally as "Gibson Mandolin - Guitar Co., Ltd" on October 11, 1902, by the craftsman Orville Gibson. Gibson originally produced some of the finest hand-crafted mandolins. This quality and attention to detail followed into the guitars the company began making later. The Gibson guitar is known for its quality and sought after worldwide by professional musicians and collectors alike. Operations were moved gradually from Kalamazoo to Nashville, Tennessee, (Electric Division) and Bozeman, Montana, (Acoustic Division) in the 1980s. Some workers from the original factory stayed in Kalamazoo to create the Heritage Guitar company.
Other notable businesses founded in the city include the Shakespeare Company, a fishing and tackle manufacturer. Early in the 20th Century, Kalamazoo was home to the pioneering brass era automobile company Barley.
Among others, Kalamazoo is home to Kalexsyn, PharmOptima, Ceetox, Metabolic Solutions Development, KAR Labs, Jasper Clinical Research and Development, Innovative Analytics and NephRx corporation. Other related businesses within the Kalamazoo metropolitan area include Eurofins AvTech Laboratories (Portage, Michigan), Bridge Organics (Vicksburg, Michigan), AureoGen Biosciences (Oshtemo Township, Michigan), and MPI Research (Mattawan, Michigan). These firms primarily focus on drug discovery and synthesis, clinical support, and finished pharmaceutical testing. KAR Labs also specializes in environmental testing, in addition to bioanalysis. Many of these companies were founded by alumni of Upjohn and its successors, especially after Pfizer eliminated thousands of jobs at its Kalamazoo and Portage facilities. The presence of these smaller biotechnology firms has helped mitigate the economic effects of Pfizer's downsizing. Several have received startup support from Southwest Michigan First's Innovation Center and grants from the State of Michigan through its Technology Tri-Corridor program.
Michigan State University has a branch of its medical school and several post-doctoral residency training programs in Kalamazoo. Resident training programs in Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Combined Internal Medicine/Pediatrics, General Surgery, Family Medicine, Orthopedic surgery, Emergency Medicine, Psychiatry, and sports medicine are centered at The Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies (KCMS) founded by Michigan State University.
The city is also home to the Stryker Corporation, a surgical and medical devices manufacturer.
Kalamazoo has two hospitals, Bronson Methodist Hospital, and Borgess Medical Center.
Kalamazoo is the birthplace of the Moped Army.
Largely due to its college-town influence, Kalamazoo has always been notable as a center for the arts. Celebrating local artists, the city's Arts Council holds an Art Hop every first Friday of the month, circulating among many local businesses in the downtown area. Big-name stars and groups often perform at the State Theatre, Miller Auditorium at Western Michigan University, and Wings Stadium.
An annual event is "Eccentric Day" at Bell's Eccentric Cafe which celebrates the brewery's Eccentric Ale. The celebration is in December on the Friday marking the end of finals at Western Michigan University.
Despite the name and a Woody Woodpecker cartoon, there is no zoo in Kalamazoo, besides the mentioned aviation museum called the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. The city closed its only zoo in 1974 when the Milham Park Zoo, located within the large city-owned park of the same name, was closed.
Adjacent to Milham Park is the Milham Park Golf Course, which is rated among the best municipal golf courses in the country. Completed in 1936, the 18-hole, par 72 course features a pro-shop and restaurant, and is located entirely within the city limits of Kalamazoo.
In 2002, the Kalamazoo Public Library was awarded "Library of the Year" by Library Journal. The city's library system comprises four branch libraries in addition to its central location, as well as the bookmobile system.
The Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum, generally called the Air Zoo, is just down the street from the airport. It is the first museum of its kind in the world with its "museum-meets-indoor-amusement-park" theme. It boasts many historical and rare aircraft, including the world's only remaining SR-71B Blackbird. Many of its antique planes are airworthy.
Downtown is the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, a "hands-on" museum aimed largely at children which also has a planetarium and a nationally recognized Challenger Learning Center. It also features a mural painted by renowned artist James "Jungle" Powell.
There is a small local improv scene, centered mainly around the group Crawlspace Eviction and its sibling production, Bed, Breakfast, and Beyond. Monkapult, a student improv group at Kalamazoo College, also has regular performances which are widely attended. Members of Monkapult later formed a small improv troupe called Just panda, which gained recognition throughout the community and held performances in Milwaukee and Chicago.
The All Ears Theatre , which invites listeners to return to "the thrilling days of live radio," performs a mix of new and classic works before a live audience. Twelve performances are recorded per year, all of which are later broadcast locally on WMUK.
The local and indie music scene has produced pop stars such as RCA recording artists The Verve Pipe, Metal Blade recording artists Thought Industry, Grass Records/RCA recording artists Twitch, Grass Records recording artists Doxie, unsigned heroes Rollinghead, Hell or Highwater, and Knee Deep Shag, among others. Among the uprising is shoegaze influenced band, glowfriends. The bluegrass and folk scene has developed a great following partly influenced by local bands like Who Hit John? ,Sweet Corn, folk stars like Joel Mabus , and the local NPR show Grassroots. Recent manifestations of this interest in acoustic, folk, and bluegrass is the recent success of groups like Greensky Bluegrass , and individuals like Seth Bernard and Daisy May The Coopers Glen Music Festival is also a popular music event held annually, previously at the Kalamazoo Nature Center and now temporarily at The Radison Plaza Hotel. The Fretboard Festival, a celebration of Kalamazoo's music scene and it's musical heritage, is held annually at The Kalamazoo Valley Museum. The second annual "Kalamashoegazer" festival will be held in 2008. The city, with its diverse and multi-ethnic population also has burgeoning world music, hip hop, punk, celtic and blues scenes. Local musicians proud of their city have also written tributes featuring the name Kalamazoo, bringing about greater national recognition of the city, such as "Kalamazoo #12 & 35" by The Corn Fed Girls, "Flypaper" by Micaela Kingslight and "Wanderin" by The Red Sea Pedestrians
Kalamazoo plays host to four non-collegiate teams:
Hyames Field played host to the first two College World Series held in 1947 and 1948. Future U. S. President George H. W. Bush was a first baseman for Yale in the 1947 series
Kalamazoo is the hometown of New York Yankees all-star shortstop Derek Jeter, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings, and Seattle Seahawks running back T.J. Duckett. Florida Marlins pitcher Scott Olsen was born in Kalamazoo.
The United States Tennis Association Boys 18 and 16 National Tennis Championships are hosted every summer by Kalamazoo College. The event, organized completely by local volunteers from Kalamazoo's vibrant tennis community, has seen some of tennis' great stars in years just before they became pro including Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, James Blake and Andy Roddick.
Kalamazoo is served by one daily newspaper, the Kalamazoo Gazette.
The main office of Business Review Western Michigan, a business-to-business publication, is located in Kalamazoo.
Western Michigan University's school paper, the Western Herald is distributed on-campus and around the greater Kalamazoo area.
WWMT, West Michigan's CBS affiliate, is licensed and operates out of Kalamazoo but serves the entire West Michigan region from the Indiana border, west to the lakeshore, and all the way up to Muskegon and Big Rapids. Currently the station advertises itself as NEWSCHANNEL 3 with the slogan "Live, Local, Breaking News". Former slogans include "News 3, Where News Comes First" and "News Active 3". WWMT formerly used the call letters WKZO, and was originally owned and operated by the famous broadcasting pioneer John Fetzer. Fetzer, along with television, also introduced Kalamazoo to radio for the first time in 1931, when AM 590 WKZO signed on the air.
The Community Access Center located in downtown Kalamazoo hosts a multitude of media outlets including cable channels 19, 20, 21, 22, and 95 where daily media programs are produced and aired to the public.
Local television stations which serve Kalamazoo include:
WIDR is operated at Western Michigan University. Located at 89.1 on the FM dial, the college student-run radio station is located on the campus and is known for playing obscure and rarely heard underground music.
WKDS is West Michigan's only high school student-run radio station. The station signed on in 1983 at 89.9 on the FM dial, broadcasting from Loy Norrix High School. The call letters stood for Kalamazoo District Schools (now Kalamazoo Public Schools). For most of its history, WKDS broadcasted only during daytime hours and not at all on the weekend. In Fall of 2004, the station began broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in an attempt to prevent an outside organization to take over the time WKDS was off the air. WKDS was part of a county wide Education For Employment program for years. The radio station is still owned by Kalamazoo Public Schools although the EFE program has been discontinued. High School students from around the area continue to operate the station.
FM radio stations which serve Kalamazoo include:
AM radio stations which serve Kalamazoo include:
Kalamazoo is served by highways I-94, US 131, M-43 and M-96. It was on the original Territorial Road in Michigan of the 1800s, which started in Detroit and ran to Lake Michigan. Much of that, but not all, later became Old U.S. 12—the "old" designation came about when I-94 was built parallel to it—and also was called Red Arrow Highway after a World War I army division. The name "U.S. 12" was shifted south to what once was U.S. 112 between Detroit and Chicago. Some parts of Old U.S. 12 outside of town, especially in Van Buren County and Berrien County to the west, are still called Red Arrow Highway. The term "Old U.S. 12" has faded from use.