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South Haven, Michigan is an irregularly shaped city in the northwest corner of Van Buren County, with a small portion extending into Allegan County to the north.

South Haven is a port city on Lake Michigan, with the mouth of the Black River within the city limits.

I-196/US-31 passes through a small portion of the city in the east, connecting with County Road 388 (Phoenix Street). Business Route 196 enters the city from the south, running concurrently with M-140, then joins CR-388/Phoenix Street turning east to join the Interstate. Blue Star Memorial Highway roughly parallels I-196, a little further to the west.

Cities and villages within twenty-five miles of South Haven include Bangor, Breedsville, Watervliet, Harford, Bloomingdale, Coloma, Douglas, Saugatuck, Lawrence, Fennville, and Gobles, while the unincorporated communities of Maple Grove Corners, Crystal Beach, South Haven Highlands, Miami Park, Kibbie, Lacota, Cedar Bluff, Hawkhead, Hollywood, and Glenn Haven Shores are within ten miles.

Situated along Lake Michigan, about forty-five miles north of the Michigan-Indiana border, South Haven has long been a port city. Today, the city is a prominent resort destination, thanks to its harbors and beaches.

Fire and emergency medical services are provided by the South Haven Area Emergency Services, in cooperation with the City of South Haven, South Haven Charter Township, Casco Township, and Geneva Township. SHAES operates from three stations with firefighting equipment, ambulances, and a fire boat. Station 3 is in the city limits. The South Haven Police Department provides law enforcement services within the city and South Haven Charter Township.

The majority of the land area in South Haven is single-family residential, occupied by homeowners or renters. Those in the oldest parts of the city, along Le Grange Street and Pearl Street, are along streets laid out in a traditional grid pattern. Homes in newer parts of the city are laid out in a modified grid and are found primarily east of Le Grange and Pearl Streets, and south of Conger Street and Wilson Street. Otherwise, single-family homes are on streets with a more suburban character, and on cul-de-sacs.

Multi-family attached residences are found in several areas of the city, primarily due to the city's large retirement and second-home population. These include condominiums, apartment buildings, and assisted living units. Resorts include bed and breakfast inns and hotels, as well as condominium units that sometimes function as seasonal resorts. These are mostly found along the Lake Michigan shore, north of the Black River.

The city's central business district is the original commercial district, bounded by Williams Street and Dyckman Avenue to the north, Broadway Street to the east, Michigan Avenue to the south, and Kalamazoo Street to the west. Some of the commercial buildings include residential units on the upper floors. Waterfront commercial areas are adjacent to, or near, the Black River. There are not very many industrial areas within the city, although the surrounding township includes industrial land.

The area of South Haven was founded by Ottawa, Miami, and Pottawatomi tribes, who knew the area as Ni-Ko-Nong, which was a reference to beautiful sunsets. Acknowledged as the first European-American settler, Jay R. Monroe came in 1831. He sold his land to Daniel Pierce, who was appointed as the first postmaster in 1841, but he declined the position.

Joseph B. Sturgis, foreman for Marvin Hannahs, supervised the construction of a sawmill in 1850. The sawmill was later purchased by A.S. Dyckman, an enthusiastic promoter of the village, which was platted by Thomas C. Sheldon and William A. Booth in 1851. South Haven was incorporated as a village in 1869 and became a city in 1902. Evert S. Dyckman, the elder son of A.S. Dyckman, served as the first mayor. The village was named for the township, which was itself named for its location south of Grand Haven.

The early economy of South Haven was boosted by its port, through which lumber was shipped across Lake Michigan to ports in Chicago and Milwaukee. Early steamers were built in the South Haven shipyards. As the availability of local timber waned, local fruit was shipped to larger markets via the ports. From the start, visitors came to the area for its beaches, entertainment venues, resorts, and opera house, but the area became a major tourist draw in the 1920s and 1930s, due to the rising availability of automobiles and good roads.

South of South Haven, the South Haven Land Syndicate platted a village in 1910. When the enterprise failed, the state took it over and added some more acreage to it to form Van Buren State Park.

This portion of our guide highlights the City of South Haven, as well as businesses, industries, schools, churches, organizations, attractions, and events within the city.


Faith & Spirituality

Places to Eat

Places to Stay

Property Sales & Rentals

Services & Industries

Things to Do & Places to Go



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