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Saint Clair, Michigan is in the eastern Thumb Region of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. It is near the southeast corner of Saint Clair Township in Saint Clair County.

Situated along the western banks of the Saint Clair River, the city can also be considered part of the Blue Water Area, a subregion of the Thumb. The Pine River forms a portion of the city's western boundary in the south before turning north and northeast to empty into the Saint Clair River in the southeastern portion of the city.

River Road connects Saint Clair with Marysville to the north, and Marine City to the south. Other cities and villages within twenty-five miles of Saint Clair include Port Huron, Richmond, Algonac, Memphis, New Haven, New Baltimore, Emmett, and Armada, while the unincorporated communities of Hawthorne and Rattle Run are within ten miles.

The City of Saint Clair takes its name from the Saint Clair River, which was itself named for Lake Saint Clair. French explorers named the lake in the 17th century. Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, a French explorer and fur trader, came upon the lake on August 12, 1679, the feast day of Saint Clare of Assisi, naming the lake Lac Sainte-Claire in her honor. As early as 1710, the lake was listed on English maps as Saint Clare, and anglicized in the 1750s to Saint Clair, as it is currently spelled.

Although some accounts attribute the name to be in honor of Arthur Saint Clair, an American Revolutionary War general, it was in use long before he was a notable figure.

Saint Clair was first platted as Palmer by Thomas Palmer in 1828, but the city's roots go back at least to 1764, when a British fort was built on the south side of the Pine River, near its confluence with the Saint Clair River. The fort was built in response to Pontiac's Rebellion, which had taken place the previous year. Colonel Patrick Sinclair was assigned the task of overseeing the construction of the fort, and he is also credited with making the area into a trading post and sawmill center. The fort and trading post operated for about twenty years before being abandoned. Colonel Sinclair is sometimes cited as the inspiration for the city's name but, again, the name was in use before he came on the scene.

Robert Fulton platted a town on the north side of the Pine River in 1817, and lobbied for the organization of Saint Clair County, persuading the state to name his settlement the county seat. Saint Clair remained the county seat until 1871 when it was moved to Port Huron.

Thomas Palmer acquired Fulton's largely undeveloped town in 1826, after which the town became part of Palmer, and was later renamed Saint Clair.

A post office was established as Saint Clair on February 14, 1826, with Mark Hopkins as postmaster. Saint Clair was incorporated as a village in 1850, and as a city in 1858.

The early economy of the community was based on the sawmill industry, largely due to the abundance of pine and oak timber in the area. Later, clay from the banks of the Pine River provided material for several brickyards in operation into the 1900s. Shipbuilding was an important part of the city's economy for about a century, beginning in the 1820s. During this time, several Saint Clair residents became sailors, and Great Lakes ship captains built homes in the city. In 1887, the Diamond Crystal Salt Company began mining the area's underground salt deposits. Now known as Cargill Salt, the company still operates a large solution salt mine and evaporation facility in St. Clair. It is the only plant in the nation that produces Alberger salt.

The Oakland Hotel was built in 1881, and the Somerville Hotel followed in 1888, contributing to Saint Clair's status as a resort community. Both hotels offered mineral baths, and the region's natural attractions brought people to the community. Passenger steamers stopped at the hotel docks daily.

In the 1960s, Saint Clair's downtown district was renovated through funding from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The project included the expansion of Palmer Park, with a boardwalk along the St. Clair River, which still draws visitors to the city.

First appearing on a census roll in 1860, Saint Clair's population grew steadily each decade until 2000, after which it has experienced slight declines. Its peak population was 5.802 in 2000, and its population as of the 2020 census was 5,464.

This portion of our guide focuses on the City of Saint Clair, Michigan. Appropriate topics include those related to the municipality, as well as local businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, events, and recreational opportunities.



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