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Situated along the Chippewa River, the city of Mount Pleasant is near the geographic center of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, and serves as the county seat for Isabella County.

Despite its name, the land in Mount Pleasant is mostly flat and without mountains. The city is surrounded by Union Township, although it is autonomous. The main routes through the city are US-127, which forms a small portion of the city's eastern border in the north and south, and intersects M-20 (Pickard Street). Bus US-127 also passes through the city. Other routes include Bamber Road, which forms a part of the city's western border in the north, as well as Broomfield Road (Broomfield Street), Crawford Road (Crawford Street, Harris Street), and Isabella Road, which forms a small portion of its eastern border in a couple of places, and River Road, which is its northern border. Others include Mission Road (Mission Street), Pickard Road (Pickard Street), and Remus Road (High Street).

Cities and villages within twenty miles of Mount Pleasant include Rosebush, Shepherd, Lake Isabella, Clare, St. Louis, Coleman, and Alma.

A portion of the city is within the Isabella Indian Reservation, the base of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Nation, which is comprised of three bands of Ojibwa, the Saginaw, the Black River, and the Swan Creek. Reservation land within the city is north of High Street. By mutual agreement of the Tribe and City, the Tribe has no jurisdiction over residents who are not members of the Tribe or over properties owned by anyone other than members of the Tribe.

Mount Pleasant is also home to the main campuses of Central Michigan University and Mid Michigan Community College. Between the two, the city's population doubles during the academic year. Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College is east of the city limits, but within the Mount Pleasant postal area.

At the time that the site of Mount Pleasant was chosen to be the county seat, it was uninhabited. When the county was organized in 1859, David Ward contributed five acres of land along the river for county purposes, and it was designated the county seat in 1860.

Under the Treaty of 1855, the Ojibwa were relegated to reservation land, and European-Americans began moving to the area. The Homestead Act of 1862 attracted others, including European immigrants. Harvey and George Morton acquired land from David Ward, and platted and recorded the townsite in 1864.

A post office was established on February 23, 1869, and Mount Pleasant was incorporated as a village in 1875, becoming a city in 1889.

The Pere Marquette Railroad completed a branch line to Mount Pleasant in 1886, establishing a station there, and a forerunner of the Ann Arbor Railroad extended its line to Mount Pleasant in 1886, continuing it further north in 1888. The Ann Arbor Railroad opened a depot in Mount Pleasant, as well.

With the incorporation of the village, its designation as the county seat, and the establishment of the railroads, the town grew rapidly, from a population of 1,115 in 1890 to 2,701 in 1890, and nearly 5,000 by 1920. The city has gained population every census year except for 1990, when it declined by less than two percent. However, it is estimated that it will decline by something under five percent when the 2020 census data is released. Its population in 2010 was 26,016.

The city's first library was The Library, Literary, and Musical Association of Mount Pleasant. Established in 1879, its inventory was made up of the personal book collections of its members.

W.A. Jordan founded Mount Pleasant Business College in 1890. In 1892, it expanded and became Central Michigan Normal School and Business Institute. In 1895, it became the state institution known as Central Michigan University today.

In 1893, the United States government established the Mount Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School. Situated east of the city limits, the school was designed to encourage Native American children to abandon their culture and language, and to adopt the European-American culture. This school closed in 1933, and the building served as the Mount Pleasant Branch of the Michigan Home and Training School, housing and training mentally handicapped young men, until 2008. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is now the property of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Nation, which plans to turn the former school into a museum.

In the 20th century, the city's economy transitioned from farming and agriculture industries to chemical and oil industries, with oil discovered in Isabella County in 1928, with others to follow. The oil industry continued into the 21st century, albeit with a continual decline.

Today, the chief employers and drivers of the city's economy are Central Michigan University and the Soaring Eagle Casino, just east of Mount Pleasant.


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