Michigan may not have become a state until over 60 years after the American Revolution in 1776, but that doesn't mean the Great Lakes State doesn't have a long history, including one of the oldest towns in the country.

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City of Sault Ste. Marie, MI
City of Sault Ste. Marie, MI

When did Michigan become a state?

Michigan became a state on January 26, 1837, becoming the 26th official state in the United States of America.

Soo Locks/National Archive
Soo Locks/National Archive

What is the oldest town in Michigan?

Surprisingly, Michigan's first city wasn't one of the major river cities of Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, or Flint; it was Sault Ste. Marie in the Upper Peninsula. Which would eventually become the home of the famous Soo Locks.

When was Michigan's oldest city founded?

According to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation the town was first discovered by European explorers in the early 1600s. Of course like in many parts of the country, 'discovered' is a very loose term as many lands were already inhabited by Native Americans.

Later in the 17th century the town of Sault Ste. Marie was founded as Michigan's first European settlement by French Jesuit missionary, Jacques Marquette:

The first French explorers passed through in 1622, finding the area to be the center of Native American life in the upper Great Lakes. In 1668, Sault Ste. Marie was founded by Father Jacques Marquette as one city separated by the St. Mary’s River.

City of Sault Ste. Marie, MI
City of Sault Ste. Marie, MI

How old are Michigan's biggest towns and cities?

For reference here are the founding dates of other Michigan cities:

  • Detroit: 1701
  • Grand Rapids: 1826
  • Lansing: 1836 (as Biddle City)
  • Kalamazoo: 1831
  • Flint: 1819

Michigan History Buffs Can See What Grand Rapids Looked Like Over 150 Years Ago

Grand Rapids, Michigan became a city in 1850 and a lot has changed since then. Check out almost 50 pictures of what things used to look like.




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