Lansing is the capital of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is located mostly in Ingham County, although small portions of the city extend into Eaton County. The 2010 Census places the city's population at 114,297, making it the fifth largest city in Michigan. The population of its Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was 464,036, while the even larger Combined Statistical Area (CSA) population, which includes Shiawassee County, was 534,684.
The Lansing Metropolitan Area, colloquially referred to as "Mid-Michigan", is an important center for educational, cultural, governmental, business, and high-tech manufacturing, including two medical schools, one veterinary school, two nursing schools, two law schools, including the nation's largest law school (Thomas M. Cooley Law School), a Big Ten Conference university (Michigan State), the Michigan State Capitol, the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, a federal court, the Library of Michigan and Historical Center, and headquarters of four national insurance companies.
The area that is now Lansing was originally spotted by explorer Hugh Howard in 1790 while canoeing the Grand River. The land that was to become Lansing was surveyed as "Township 4 North Range 2 West" in February 1827 in what was then dense forest. It was the last of the county's townships to be surveyed, and the land not offered for sale until October 1830. There would be no roads to this area for decades to come.
In the winter of 1835 and early 1836, two brothers from New York plotted the area now known as REO Town just south of downtown Lansing and named it "Biddle City." All of this land lay in a floodplain and was underwater during the majority of the year. Regardless, the brothers went back to New York, specifically Lansing, New York, to sell plots for the town that did not exist. They told the residents of Lansing, New York that this new "city" had an area of 65 blocks, contained a church and also a public and academic square. A group of 16 men bought plots in the nonexistent city and upon reaching the area later that year found they had been scammed. Many in the group too disappointed to stay ended up settling around what is now Metropolitan Lansing. Those who stayed quickly renamed the area "Lansing Township" in honor of their home village in New York.
The sleepy settlement of fewer than 20 people would remain dormant until the winter of 1847 when the state constitution required that the capital be moved from Detroit to a more central and safer location in the interior of the state; many were concerned about Detroit's proximity to British-controlled Canada, which had captured Detroit in the War of 1812. The United States had recaptured the city in 1813, but these events led to the dire need to have the center of government relocated away from hostile British territory. In addition, there was also concern with Detroit's strong influence over Michigan politics, being the largest city in the state as well as the capital city.
During the multi-day session to determine a new location for the state capital, many cities, including Ann Arbor, Marshall, and Jackson, lobbied hard to win this designation. Unable to publicly reach a consensus because of constant political wrangling, the Michigan House of Representatives privately chose the Township of Lansing out of frustration. When announced, many present openly laughed that such an insignificant settlement was now the capital city of Michigan. Two months later, the governor William L. Greenly signed into law the act of the legislature officially making Lansing Township the state capital.
With the announcement that Lansing Township had been made the capital, the small village quickly transformed into the seat of state government. The legislature gave the settlement the temporary name of the "Town of Michigan". In April 1848, the legislature then gave the settlement the name of "Lansing". Within months after it became the capital city, individual settlements began to develop along three key points along the Grand River in the township:
In 1859, the settlement having grown to nearly 3,000 and encompassing about in area was incorporated as a city. The boundaries of the original city were Douglas Avenue to the north, Wood and Regent Streets to the east, Mount Hope Avenue to the south, and Jenison Avenue to the west. These boundaries would remain unchanged until 1916. Lansing began to grow steadily over the next two decades with the completion of the railroads through the city, a plank road, and the completion of the current capitol building in 1878.
Most of what is known as Lansing today is the direct result of the city becoming an industrial powerhouse which began with the founding of Olds Motor Vehicle Company in August 1897. The company went through many changes, including a buyout, between its founding to 1905 when founder Ransom E. Olds started his new company REO Motor Car Company, which would last in Lansing for another 70 years. Olds would be joined by the less successful Clarkmobile around 1903. Over the next decades, the city would see itself transformed into a major American industrial center for the manufacturing of automobiles and automobile parts among other industries. The city continued to grow in area too. By 1956, the city had grown to , and doubled in size over the next decade to its current size of roughly .
Today, the city's economy is now diversified among government service, healthcare, manufacturing, insurance, banking, and education.