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Situated just east of the state capital of Lansing, East Lansing, Michigan is the home of Michigan State University.

Most of the city is in northwest Ingham County, although a portion extends into southeast Clinton County. Lansing is adjacent to East Lansing on the west, while other nearby cities include DeWitt, Williamson, Mason, Laingsburg, and Perry. The chief routes to and from the city are I-69, I-496, and US-127, while BL I-69 is a loop route running through Lansing and East Lansing. Other routes include M-43, M-99, and M-143.

East Lansing is appropriately called a college town, because the college was there before there was even a village there, and the village primarily served the needs of college teachers and students. Currently a public land-grant research university, MSU was founded as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan in 1855. In the early years, the college was almost entirely residential because there was no surrounding village. At the time of its founding, there were just seven farmhouses in a two-mile radius around the college, two of which are still standing, both in what is now the Marble District of East Lansing. The first residential area was on-campus, and known as Faculty Row.

Off-campus housing began with Collegeville, which was platted on sixty-nine lots across Michigan Avenue from the west entrance to the College. Considered too far from the main part of the campus, it was not particularly successful at the time, but Collegeville was the seed that later became East Lansing.

The next residential area that would later become part of East Lansing was College Delta. Although the land was part of the original College land grant, it was isolated from the rest of campus when Michigan Avenue was extended in 1867. As the State Board was not interested in expanding Faculty Row, this parcel of land was platted as College Delta, offering lots of land at low prices, with water and sewer service provided by the College. However, potential buyers were required to have a connection with College affairs. Originally intended for faculty housing, this neighborhood is now home largely to fraternities and student apartments, and is part of East Lansing.

Now the main commercial center of East Lansing, Oakwood began with a 55-acre portion of the Manly Miles farm, fronting on Grand River Avenue.

In the early 1900s, the Parmalee farm was converted into a subdivision known as College Grove. East of Abbot Road, it was the first combined residential and business subdivision to include a community system independent of the College. Today, College Grove is considered to be the core of the city, and it includes several historic buildings that are still standing.

Platted in 1904, Fairview arose in an area of Grand River Avenue frontage of the Chittenden farm. By 1913, the area between Fairview and College Grove had been developed. Also platted in 1904, College Heights occupied ten acres of land just west of Oakwood.

Between 1904 and 1914, most developments in East Lansing were additions to existing subdivisions. However, in 1913, Avondale was platted on unincorporated land in Meridian Township. Bordering East Lansing to the west, it was exempt from the city's zoning laws. As East Lansing grew, Avondale was absorbed, and nearly all of its streets were renamed.

North and west of College Heights and Oakwood, Bungalow Knolls was platted in 1915 on the remainder of the ten acres that had been acquired to create College Heights in 1904. In 1919, Ardson Heights was platted on the site of the former Lansing Country Club golf course, which dated from 1902, but had been annexed by East Lansing in 1915. Platted on the western half of a 40-acre tract known as the Valleau farm, the Ridgely Park subdivision was created in 1920.

In 1926, Chesterfield Hills was the first to break from the convention of straight streets and rectangular lots. Created as an affluent residential district, Chesterfield Hills includes many lots that were irregular in shape and size, and streets that followed the natural contours of the land rather than cutting through native trees to create straight streets. A narrow parcel of land just west of Chesterfield Hills had been platted as Oak Ridge in 1924, and annexed by East Lansing in 1924.

A large portion of the Chittenden farm was platted as Strathmore. Like Chesterfield Hills, it includes curving streets, lined with trees. Although platted in 1925, the land had already been incorporated into East Lansing.

Several others were to follow over the years, some developed on land already part of East Lansing, while others were platted as separate communities, but later absorbed by the larger city. Since 1998, East Lansing has expanded its borders several times through the use of 425 Agreements, also known as conditional transfers of property by contract agreements, adding thousands of acres to its borders.

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