Kent County is a county in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is part of the Grand Rapids–Wyoming Metropolitan Statistical Area. Grand Rapids is the county seat. As of the 2010 census, the county had a population of 602,622. It is named for New York jurist and legal scholar James Kent, who represented the Michigan Territory in its dispute with Ohio over the Toledo Strip. It was set off in 1831, and organized in 1836.
Kent County is the economic and manufacturing center of West Michigan, with the Steelcase corporation based in the county. It is also the home of the Frederik Meijer Gardens, a significant cultural landmark of the Midwest. The county is a traditional stronghold for the Republican Party, with a substantial conservative population, although the 2008 Presidential Election marked the first time since 1964 a Democratic Presidential candidate received more votes than his Republican opponent. The area has strong religious ties, containing a substantial number of evangelical Christians. The Gerald R. Ford International Airport is located within the county.
The Grand River, the largest in Michigan, runs through the county. On its west bank are burial mounds, remnants of the Hopewell Indians who once lived there. The valley of the river served as an important center for the fur trade in the early 19th century. After the War of 1812, Rix Robinson and Louis Campau were the earliest traders in the area.
In 1831, it was set off from Kalamazoo County. In 1838, Grand Rapids incorporated as the county's first village. By the end of the century, stimulated by the construction of several sawmills, the area was a significant center for agriculture, logging, and manufacturing furniture.
The present extent of Kent County was historically divided into 24 land survey townships in a grid 4 (east-west) by 6 (north-south). (1885 map) Of those 24 townships, 21 remain as political townships. Wyoming Township became the City of Wyoming in 1959. Walker Township became the City of Walker in 1962. Paris Township became the City of Kentwood in 1967.