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General Topics

Abraham Lincoln’s Speech in Bronson Park

Four years before he became the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, then a representative from Illinois, came to Kalamazoo on August 27, 1856 on the invitation of…

Alphadelphia Association

It was sustained for a mere four years, from 1844 to 1848, but history has not forgotten the effort put forward by a small collection of quixotic people situated in…

Bright Kalamazoo

Over the years, dozens of songs have been written in and/or inspired by the town of Kalamazoo. Among the earliest of these “Kalamazoo” songs was a piece composed in 1854 about the Kalamazoo River entitled “Bright Kalamazoo.”

Early Recollections of Kalamazoo County

“Early Recollections of Kalamazoo County” was originally drafted in the early-to-mid 1930s by Lucien Harding Stoddard, an early resident of Kalamazoo. In 1993, it was discovered and retyped by William…

From Wheels to Heels: The Mall City

Eisenhower was President. Elvis was King. It was 19 August 1959, and a new era in Kalamazoo’s history was about to begin. The nation’s first pedestrian shopping mall opened on the two blocks of South Burdick Street between Water and South Streets...

Germans in Kalamazoo

Germans and Enterprise From its inception, Kalamazoo has always been a place comprised of people from diverse cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds, seeking out ways to put down roots and…

How Kalamazoo Got Its Name

Kalamazoo. The word is smooth, rhythmic, almost musical. So what exactly does it mean? What is the story behind the name? Welcome to one of the most popular yet least understood subjects in this southwest Michigan city.

Kalamazoo Celebrates Nations’ 100 Years of Peace

Dr. Herbert Stetson, president of Kalamazoo College, announced on 14 December 1914, that he wanted to organize an event that honored the 100 years of peace that had existed between the U.S. and Great Britain since the end of the War of 1812...

Kalamazoo Day at the Panama-Pacific Exposition

Mayor A. B. Connable received exciting news in December 1914 for the city of Kalamazoo and for its manufacturers. The special events committee of the Panama-Pacific Exposition, opening 15 February 1915 in San Francisco, announced that 1 June would...

Kalamazoo River

The village of Kalamazoo was named after the river that flows through it, and the destinies of the two entities have always been intertwined. The origin of the name of the Kalamazoo River is an interesting story all its own. The river runs about...

Michigan Historical Markers

The Michigan Historical Marker Program was established by the legislature and governor in 1955. Since then, more than 1,700 Michigan Historical Markers have been placed all across the state—and in…

New Years Day

New Year’s Day is a time to reflect on the past and look forward to the (hopefully) better days ahead, especially this year. But today seems like an especially good time for a look back at life in Kalamazoo one hundred years ago.

Sister Cities

Conceived after the destructive upheaval of World War II, sister city programs developed from the simple idea that sharing information and experiences between people from different cultural backgrounds could nurture…

That Gal in Kalamazoo

It was during World War II that a song helped immortalize Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Glenn Miller Orchestra introduced “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo” in the 1942 musical Orchestra Wives (20th Century-Fox Pictures) starring George Montgomery, Ann...

The Great Blizzard of 1978

Two years before Kalamazoo’s devastating 1980 tornado, a storm of a different sort brought much of the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley regions to a standstill. People still refer to this historic winter storm as the Great Blizzard of 1978.

TWISTER!

On Tuesday, 13 May 1980, a tornado struck the heart of Kalamazoo, Michigan. First touching down at 4 pm eight miles west of the city limits, it rapidly moved eastward through downtown until it dissipated east of the city at 4:25 pm...

Underground Railroad in Kalamazoo

More than three million African-Americans lived as slaves in the Southern United States in the mid-1800s. They had few human rights and were regularly bought and sold at auction. Whole families were torn apart, never to be reunited. This bleak...

USS Kalamazoo

The name “Kalamazoo” has graced U.S. Navy ships in several eras. The most recent was the USS KALAMAZOO (AOR6), a U.S. Navy replenishment oiler, one of seven of that class named in honor of U.S. cities or rivers with names of Native American...

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