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Situated in the southwest Lower Peninsula of Michigan, Kalamazoo is the county seat of Kalamazoo County, and occupies most of the upper third of the county.

Kalamazoo is just under a hundred and fifty miles from both Chicago and Detroit. The city is adjacent to the city of Parchment to the north, Portage to the south, and the census-designated places of Comstock and Eastwood to the east. The cities and villages of Galesburg, Richland, Plainwell, Augusta, Vicksburg, Mattawan, Schoolcraft, Climax, Otsego, and Paw Paw are within twenty miles of Kalamazoo.

The chief routes through the city include I-94 (Officer Eric Zapata Memorial Highway), which cuts across the southeast portion of the city, and otherwise runs just south of its borders, while Business I-94 runs through the city's downtown district. US-131 is just west of the city limits, although it cuts through its southwest corner, and Business US-131 goes downtown. Other routes include M-43 and M-96.

The Kalamazoo River flows west and north through the northeast part of the city, and Portage Creek winds through the southern portion of the city, connecting several lakes within the city before feeding into the Kalamazoo River.

Kalamazoo has a population of just under 80,000, and a land area of 25.13 square miles. The city is divided into several neighborhoods, many of which have a corresponding neighborhood association. These include Arcadia, Burke Acres, Central Business District, Colony Farm, Eastside, Edison, Hill 'N' Brook, Knollwood, Milwood, Northside, Oakland/Winchell, Oakwood, Parkview Hills, South Westnedge, Southside, Stuart, Vine, West Douglas/Fairmont, West Main Hill, Western Michigan University/Kalamazoo Regional Psychiatric Hospital, Westnedge Hill, and Westwood, of which Edison and Milwood are the most populous.

The city's K-12 public schools are operated by Kalamazoo Public Schools, which manages several elementary, middle, and high schools within the district. Institutions of higher learning in Kalamazoo include Western Michigan University, which has four campuses within the city. Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center, and a campus of Davenport University are also within the city, as is Kalamazoo College, a private liberal arts college.

Although Kalamazoo has experienced a population decline in three of the last four censuses, the numbers were relatively small, and the city has maintained a fairly stable population. Its peak population was 85,555 in 1970, and its population as of 2010 was 74,262.

Unlike several other large Michigan cities, Kalamazoo has maintained a healthy manufacturing base. The multinational medical technologies company, Stryker Corporation, is based in Kalamazoo, as is Fabri-Kal, and several other large corporations have facilities in Kalamazoo. The city also has several breweries and distilleries, industrial design companies, and research and development.

The earliest known residents of the area that was to become Kalamazoo were the Moundbuilders, a prehistoric race of people who practiced subsistence farming. Some earthen mounds from this era still exist in the area, including one in Bronson Park. Later, came the Sioux, the Mascoutin, the Miami, and the Potawatomi, who were there when the European-Americans came.

While explorers and traders came through the region as early as the 1680s, the first permanent settler was Titus Bronson, who came from Connecticut to build a home in 1829. He platted a townsite that he named Branson in 1831, and the new town was designated the county seat on May 1 of that year.

Others came in 1831 as well, including General Justus Burdick, and Smith L. Wood, who built the first frame home in 1832. Dr. Jonathan G. Abbott became the first postmaster on July 14, 1832. On April 20, 1836, a group of influential settlers persuaded the state legislature to change the name of the town to Kalamazoo, apparently due to what was viewed as the eccentricities of Titus Bronson, including a conviction for stealing a cherry tree.

Kalamazoo was incorporated as a village in 1838, and it became a city in 1891.

At the time that the area was being settled, Indian trails and the river were the main routes of travel. After 1830, the trails were improved and made into primitive roads, such as the Territorial Road that ran from Detroit to St. Joseph. The Michigan Central Railroad connected Kalamazoo with Detroit in 1846, and with Chicago in 1852. By 1905, there were five railroads coming through Kalamazoo. Of course, it wasn't long before the railroads were largely supplanted by the development of gas-powered vehicles and improved roads.

The focus of this category is on the City of Kalamazoo. Appropriate topics include online resources representing the city and any businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organization, attractions, events, and recreational opportunities.


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