Lansing History



  • I've always thought the exact opposite in that I don't see why they don't have programs and classrooms in Lansing. It's always odd for me when I hear them expanding, say, the medical school all the way in Flint or Grand Rapids, yet, they literally have ONE office in Lansing, literally next door. I realize Lansing and East Lansing have been two seperate entities for a very long time, but it's strange as if MSU doesn't even recognize that its neighbor to the west even exists. This is pretty rare even for college metros with multiple cities within them. One of my greatest disppointments about this town is how cordoned off and uncoordinated everything else.

    I see very little hope that this changes for the simple fact that MSU's physical campus is so incredibly huge. What that means is that they don't have to purchase any land for anything whenever they want to expand. It'd be awesome that instead of expanding its medical school in those other places (hell, MSU even has an office on Woodward in Detroit), they'd build classrooms around Sparrow, but that's never going to happen.

  • This picture of the Lansing Civic Center looks very similar to the interior of the MSU Auditorium.

  • edited March 2014
    The LSJ had some file photos detailing the Lansing skyline over its history. One of the things I'd never seen was the 100 north block of Washington Square (just north of Michigan Avenue) where One Michigan now stands:


    This is from 1959, Michigan Avenue is to the right, and you can also see the buildings replaced by the Radisson, next door.

    Just a block north at Ottawa and Washington, is this photo taken in 1960:


    I know this happened everywhere, but I really do hate all of the little retail buildings we lost both along the main streets and the side streets, downtown. But, when neighborhood-centered retail collapsed, this is what was bound happened.

    Finally, in these 1990 shots, what gets me is how little the skyline has changed since then. Though, most of us keen-eyed locals would definitely be able to tell the differences on the ground:



    The first shot shows me just how much the skyline could change if some high-rises were developed along the "backyard" area of Washington. If the loss of parking would be too much, one of those lots could have a parking garage as a podium for a high-rise.
  • Thanks for posting the pictures. On the 1990s pics, what comes to mind being built since then is the State Police, Anderson House, Capital View, Accident Fund, and City Market buildings. The latter three would be visible on the bottom photo only. I'm sure there are a couple I'm missing? Yes, the "backyard" area along Grand Ave is striking and unfortunate. It's almost more noticeable from the aerial view then when driving along Grand Ave. It would be nice to see a larger/midrise building across the street from the Grand Tower.

    On the 1959/1960s photos, I agree, it is sad and unfortunate to see some of the historic retail building go (neighborhood-centered as you put it). Some of the newer housing developments are incorporating that somewhat (street level retail, top floor residential).
  • edited May 2014
    The LSJ had a little story on the history of Frandor in the paper, yesterday, with some file photos. The first two are looking southeast from somewhere around Saginaw and Grand River and the freeway (or where it would come through) in 1954:


    (you can see the Ranney Park hill in this shot)


    Saginaw Street entrance (1965)


    A photo showing the indoor walkway (on the eastside of the mall) in 1997:


    The article says the center was built on the site of the Glenmoor Golf Course (9-holes) in 1954. A movie theater was added in 1967 at the north side of the mall. It was enclosed and expanded in 1970. In 1998 was when they opened it back up to the air. I really kind of miss the enclosed section of it. You can still see evidence of the enclosed portion on the eastside of the mall in some basement shops, and a small set of stairs on the sidewalk about halfway along the sidewalk because of the slope of the site. I remember shopping with my family at Community News for books while it was still enclosed.

    It'll be interesting to see what the next 60 years hold for the mall. While over at Krogers the other day, I couldn't help but see how prominent the Midtown Flats are from just about anywhere in the mall. Maybe, one of these days, it'll be developed as a mixed-use town center. But, that'll require a new owner, since these current owners have never been very ambitious with the property.
  • I'm almost certain it will become mixed use someday, and I think the Red Cedar Renaissance project will probably make it happen sooner rather than later. I'd bet the Frandor area ends up like a second downtown over the next few decades, it's already on it's way there.

    I miss the indoor part of the mall too, the only things I clearly remember are when Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny were there and the Baskin Robbins.
  • edited May 2014
    The Baskin Robbins there has it's own unique story. I remember it was located in a section of the mall that jutted out in to the parking lot. This section was removed when the mall was remodeled, and the Baskin Robbins moved to be located next to Medawar Jewelers. After maintaining that location for maybe 10 years, corporate Baskin Robbins dictated to its franchises that they needed to add Dunkin Donuts to all of their locations (including new signage, machinery, training, etc). At that time many Baskin Robbins franchises closed, and this one in particular changed from a Baskin Robbins to Sparty's Sundae, which it is now operating as.

    There also was a Pinball Pete's location at Frandor that was closed when the mall remodeled. I was a little too young to know it well, but I think it may have been adjacent to Kroger's.
  • I found a blog detailing some Lansing history, it seems to have recent posts so look for updates: Lost Lansing

    This hasn't been mentioned before, has it?
  • edited August 2015
    The LSJ has another historic gallery out, this one of Washington Square:

    Looking southwest from the Four Corners:


    Looking north from the eastside of the 200 block:


    Same location but further back in time:


    Looking north from the westside of the 200 block:


    Woolworth's on the westside of the 200 block:


    Looking southwest in 1973 over where the Radisson was built:




    Looking south form the Four Corners in an earlier time:


    Looking southwest from the 300 north block:


    There are more, but these are some of the best. Something really interesting is from the few older pictures, you can tell how the shutting off of North Washington to make mega-block campus for LCC effected everything further south. What was once a major, busy north-south thoroughfare was cut off and basically made it the square it is, today. It's what allowed the city to pedestrianize part of the south end downtown for a quick expirement before tearing most of it up. The loss of traffic is what also allowed them to do angled parking, which is the legacy which shows that today.
  • I think that although admirable [they thought they had to do something] the malling of Washington Ave was and still is in some ways a failure. Every plan was downsized delayed until it was never built, every thing that was build was usually downsized may less ornate than the original plan. Some times what was built was so wrong or lame that you wondered why did they spend money on this? Like the playground they built in the middle of downtown if front of the building pictured above, or the fountains the broke after about a month I think. I am sure it was millions of dollars for that mall that they dug up. The buildings that replaced 19th and 20th century Lansing are mainly nice but unremarkable there are still street parking lots on Washington were stores and theaters use to be. I wonder why? I am very much impressed with Lansing these days however after being away for 35 years, just plan and do it right the first time, no more cut rate downsized low bid the only factor projects. How about the best built with the integrity of the buildings our forefathers built here were even the water plant was beautiful.
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