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“Middle Town”, the current location of downtown Lansing was the last to be developed, behind “Upper Town” and “Lower Town”, in 1848. “Middle Town” was developed after the construction of the Michigan Avenue bridge over the Grand River and the completion of the temporary capitol building between Allegan and Washtenaw Streets. This area grew to become larger than the other two towns to the north and south. The three towns were combined and briefly referred to as “Michigan” then officially named Lansing in 1848.
At left is the 200 block of North Washington Avenue looking north from Ottawa Street. The beautiful building on the corner was the men’s clothing shop of James O’Connor, “Home of good clothes O’Connor,” next door was the Theatorium, a theater and sometime vaudeville house, which would later become the Empress, owned by James M. Neal.
Michigan, Michigan was created by the legislature in 1847, but renamed Lansing in 1848.
Looking south from the BWL standpipe in 1912, you see the Grand River and Cedar Street on the left. Notice how closely homes were built to the factories along the river. That is an indication of a time before the automobile. Also notice the iron Kalamazoo Street Bridge at right.
Looking at the Grand River between Allegan and Kalamazoo Streets, the Bates & Edmonds Motor Co. (238 Mill Street – bottom left to center) dominates the view. The tracks of the LS&MS Railway run north and south along Mill Street, through the industrial corridor on the river. The backside of John Bohnet & Co., an early, short-lived automobile maker is on Grand, across the river to the left. Also visible are landmarks on South Washington, two blocks from the river, including the easily spotted white Butler Block building, at top right.
Looking west down Allegan Street (just left of the Capitol at upper right) you can see the Hollister Block, the location of the offices of many Lansing businessmen including E.W. Sparrow. The Downey Hotel is the big square building upper left, at Washtenaw Street (later the site of the Knapps Building).
Cedar Street runs north from bottom center to upper right. Notice the iron bridges of Shiawassee, a railroad bridge, Saginaw, and Franklin (later Grand River) across the Grand River. On the east side of the river, the passenger depot and freight yards of the LS&MS Railway, Michigan Condensed Milk Co. (at Shiawassee), and grounds of the Lansing Co. (long white building running parallel to Cedar and river) are discernible. At bottom left is the store of Fred W. Houghton, Druggist, at 431 East Michigan, and Postal Substation No.2. The barn-like structure near the depot, at 402 Condit, is M.H. Hunt & Son, Bee Supplies and Berry Baskets.
The steeple in the center is the Larch Street School. Larch, running from the right to top left, is as yet unpaved. At the lower right are rooftops of shops in the 500 block of Michigan Avenue. At top right is International Harvester at 710 East Shiawassee.
The intersection of Michigan and Larch is at the bottom left. The large building at center left is the J.I. Case Threshing Machine Co. (which also made tractors). A number of small storefront shops line the North side of Michigan Avenue. These now include Rum Runners Bar and City Rescue Mission. The roof of the Michigan Central passenger depot (now Clara’s Restaurant) can be seen over the top of J.I. Case.