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Individual settlements began to develop in the 1840s and 50s, Lower Town, Middle Town and Upper Town merged into what is now Lansing. Upper Town had a thriving commercial area along South Washington Avenue. Upper town is now often called “ReoTown” after the former REO automobile factory in the area.
The heart of any neighborhood was found in the stores and shops that supported the local residents. The Sparrow block, 1133-1149 South Washington, was an example of this. Pictured here from left to right are the grocery store of Orin Cook, the jewelry store of E. Crawford, R.H. Kelly’s hardware store, the Royal Café, the W.B. Fishbeck outfitter and tool store, George Hamilton’s barber shop, the Capitol Meat Market, Campbell & Darling Drugstore and postal substation, Joe Coscarelle’s fruit market, and Christopher’s grocery store. Above these businesses were the offices of doctors, dentists, and attorneys. The block had everything residents might need, and it was all within walking distance of their neighborhood.