On January 18, National Michigan Day recognizes the Great Lake State.
Surrounded by four of the five Great Lakes, Michigan has more shoreline than any of the contiguous 48 states. Of the 50 states, only Alaska has more.
First explored by the French, the area became a U.S territory in 1783. Flush with iron and copper, Michigan would become a center of industrial activity.
Lake Michigan separates the upper and lower peninsulas of the 26th state granted statehood, making Michigan unlike any other in design. To move from one peninsula to the other, ferries used to carry travelers back and forth. But in 1957, the Mackinac Bridge connected the two sides making the journey more convenient and safer. At 26,372 feet long, it is the third longest suspension bridge in the world.
Industry and Music
Industry dominated the early 20th century in Michigan. From logging, shipping, rail and automotive, the population grew with an influx of workers during war and peacetime. Influenced by skilled trades, engineering, and manufacturing, employment exploded.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, assembly workers were in high demand all across the country. The Willow Run plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan built B-24 Bombers. As the epicenter of the automobile industry, Michigan was ripe for the increased production.
One of the Willow Run factory workers became a Rosie the Riveter spokesperson wearing the iconic bandana and flexing her muscle to sell war bonds. Rose Will Monroe’s efforts, as well as thousands of other women in Michigan and across the country, changed the course a war and the image of women for generations.
Known for its Motown sound and legendary music makers, Michigan and Detroit launched some of the most memorable names in jazz and gospel music. From Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross to the Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder, the birth of Motown was the launching of an era.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalMichiganDay
Join National Day Calendar as we recognize Michigan’s industrious spirit and natural beauty. Uncover hidden treasures and explore all Michigan’s history, lakes, and peninsulas!
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Isle Royale – Houghton
Motor Cities – Detroit
Pictured Rocks – Grand Marais
Agate Falls Scenic Site – Trout Creek
Bond Falls Scenic Site – Paulding
Colonial Michilimackinac Historic State Park – Mackinaw City
Hoffmaster State Park – Muskegon
Ionia State Recreation Area – Ionia
Ludington State Park – Ludington
Tahquamenon Falls State Park – Paradise
Grand Rapids Public Museum – Grand Rapids
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum – Paradise
Hitsville U.S.A. – Detroit
Yankee Air Museum – Belleville
Automotive Hall of Fame – Dearborn
Michigan Science Center – Detroit
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts – Kalamazoo
Air Zoo – Kalamazoo
The Henry Ford – Dearborn
Michigan Iron Industry Museum – Negaunee
Notable Auto Industry
While the horseless carriage was invented in Germany and France, Michigan laid claim to production, design, and innovation earning Detroit the Motor City nickname Motown.
Attracted to the machine industry and availability of shipping to large metropolitan areas of Chicago and New York by rail and water, Michigan made an ideal place to set up shop. Businessmen like Henry Ford and Ransom Olds didn’t have far to go; they were born in the great state of Michigan. Others made their way to the Great Lake State from as near as New York and as far as Europe. Those with names we recognize today. Businessman, machinists, inventors, and designers. Horace and Elgin Dodge, Henry M. Leland, Louis Chevrolet, William C. Durant, David Dunbar Buick.