Published Under the auspices of Muskegon Board of Trade 1892
The center of population for the U. S. is now in the great Lake District. Eight states abutting the great lakes, contain nearly half the population of the 44 states comprising the Union. The four states surrounding Lake Michigan have over ten millions of people- nearly one-sixth of the entire Union- although having an average age, as states, of but 63 years. Muskegon is the third city in population on Lake Michigan, the fourth for marine business; her harbor is accessible in the coldest weather and location the center of the great Fruit Belt. Michigan produces half of the iron ore of the Union, nearly all the copper, is first in salt and lumber manufacturing and capitalists are "catching on" to the fact that these advantages are sure to bring furnaces, additional iron, wood and other industries of magnitude, to Muskegon, at no distant day.
The publication of this volume is to present in condensed form and convenient shape for preservation, all the material facts of history, advantages and surroundings of Muskegon. Her city and county government, churches and schools, professional, business and social life will be briefly outlined. Statistics ilustrating the growth and extent of her commercial and manufacturing interests, carefully compiled from reliable sources, will be found in succeeding pages. A thorough perusal of these facts by manufacturers or those in search of homes in a pleasant and healthful city, with superior educational advantages, will bring a preponderance of evidence in favor of Muskegon. This is not a boom edition in any sense of the word, but officers of the Board of Trade and other leading citizens have felt the need of a publication in a convenient shape for reference, and for mailing to inquirers, that would give all our material interests, with due reference to the magnitude of our principal concerns, suitable illustrations, and void of the gush and personal laudations usually found in such works. It is not necessary to overdraw Muskegon, as there are few, if any, cities in the Union, more favorably located for manufacturing, that have better libraries or schools, churches or social advantages, more delightful outing resorts or that present a more equable climate the year round. Formerly entitled to the cognomen, "The Lumber Queen of the World," as the timber of the section has been rapidly consumed, the saw and shingle mills have given place to general manufacturing, of which subsequent pages give details of the leading institutions. These will be seen to be numerous diversified and important for a city of this size; but there is room for hundreds more, and with our superior attractions, the progress in industrial concerns will doubtless increase more than a hundred-fold with each coming decade. Astute manufacturers, throughout the length of the land are seeking central locations for securing raw materials, cities where sufficient ground is available, at low figures for building factories; where workmen can secure cheap rent, or own cottages for homes, and where easy transportation for distributing their productions to the millions is accessible. in all these respects, statistics presented in the following pages will show that Muskegon is unsurpassed.
MUSKEGON LAKE, CITY, ETC.
The corporate limits of Muskegon cover twelve square miles, five of which are water. The city is bult with comparative compactness for four miles along the southwestern shore of Muskegon Lake, and extending back an average of a mile or more. Lakeside, Bluffton and Port Sherman, although in the corporation, are less compact. At the last named place the outlet of Muskegon Lake joins Lake Michigan. Muskegon Heights on the south, and North Muskegon across an arm of the lake are considered a part of the city's surrounding developments, though not at present included in the corporate limits. Electric cars furnish convenient communication every twenty minutes between Muskegon Heights and the city. Regular steam ferries and the old bridge road connect North Muskegon, and plans are now progressing for direct connection by a new, well built drawbridge and electric car line which will greatly facilitate communication and make of North Muskegon a desirable residence suburb.
LOCATION OF MUSKEGON
A northeast course of 141 miles from Chicago, across Lake Michigan's surface brings the mariner to the outlet of Muskegon Lake, a body of water six miles in length, by from one to three in breadth, on the southeast shore of which is found this handsome city. Directly to the southward, 100 miles, skirting Lake Michigan's eastern shore, brings the traveler to the Indiana state line. Milwaukee is 85 miles nearly due west; Detroit 200 miles south of east. The four states surrounding Lake Michigan comprise the greatest intrinsic worth of any similar section of the Union. Within a radius of 125 miles from this city is found 2,725,000 inhabitants by the census reports of 1890. Within less than 400 miles of Muskegon, one-fourth of the population of the entire United States and a considerable portion of Ontario is reached. With New York as the great commercial center of the east, and Chicago the undoubted center of the Lake District, the growth of the latter city and district for the past 20 years gives ample evidence that Chicago will outrival New York within the present generation, and we shall be indeed near the commercial center of the Union. Muskegon is on the eastern shore of lake Michigan, about one-third of the distance from the south end, towards the Straits of Macinac. This great body of water, with about 900 miles of coastline, is entirely in the U. S., has an extreme depth of 870 feet, never freezes over and navigation upon its waters continues between Wilwaukee <probably should be Milwaukee-Patti> on the west and favored ports on the east, while the great chain of lakes is blocked with ice for nearly half the year. The prevailing winds are from western points of compass and must come over Michigan's waters to reach Muskegon, so that the mercury seldom touches zero here, when it is 10 or more below, 150 miles further south. This proximity to the great water also tempers our summer heat, and when Chicago is parched with southwestern winds, our citizens are enjoying the breezes which have been cooled by crossing a 100 miles of water at 60 degrees. Muskegon is in the center of the Michigan Peach and Fruit Belt, which is proof positive of its equable climate.
Read the foregoing article and then consider that Escanaba, the largest iron ore market in the world, is but 183 miles distant, while vessels discharging cargoes at Buffalo, Erie or Ashtabula bring return coal to western points at nominal rates, and all supplies for furnaces can be secured by lake or rail at competing prices. The vast amount of commercial business transacted by boat is steadily on the increase, and is nowhere more important than on Lake Michigan . For comparison we condense the following tonnage movement by water for 1890:
London and Liverpool...............................33,420,617 tons
All United States Sea Ports........................26,983,315 "
New York, Philadelphia and Boston........... 9,073,690 "
All Great Lakes Ports.................................51,203,106 "
All Lake Michigan Ports.............................18,571,258 "
Chicago, Milwaukee and Muskegon..........11,125,846 "
Muskegon has great advantages over Chicago in cheap lands and living, low taxes and lake front manufacturing sites at nominal prices. Iron ore, timber, lumber, tanbark, hides, and other raw materials, are easily accessible; a score of large industrial institutions have located here within the past two years, and when all the foregoing facts are taken into consideration there is every inducement for the good work to continue. No better idea of the eligible location and great natural advantages of Muskegon could be conveyed than in the following article compiled recently, by F. H. Holbrook, ex-postmaster and secretary of the Board of Trade. With rare discernment, and as a result of a careful study of the subject in all bearings, and the same applied in the light of sound judgement, Mr. Holbrook writes as follows:
"In a nation growing so rapidly as ours, (twelve million population added last decade, 75,000 miles of railway built in the same period, or equivalent to a line between New York and Chicago every forty days) it becomes necessary for the individual, who seeks to obtain the highest results possible, either from investment or from manufacturing enterprise, to study carefully the natural divisions of the United States; the distribution of population; the sources from which commodities are derived; the channels through which business flows, etc. Let us examine into these: To the topographer the nation is divided into five natural drainage basins, viz: Atlantic, Great Lakes, Mississippi, Gulf and Pacific; each easily discernible by noting, on a map, the course of streams running into the oceans, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi river and tributaries, and the Gulf of Mexico. The first three of these five basins, are the seats of the major part of the vast volume of business in this country. On the west, the Mississippi basin, with vast area of fertile soil, raises the bulk of the cereals, live stock and farm products. On the east, the Atlantic basin contains all the beds of anthracite coal, much of the best bituminous and coking coal, practically all the petroleum, many large iron mines, and, bordering on the Atlantic ocean, has the gateways to European markets. The Great Lakes basin produces wonderful quantities of the best Bessemer ore, copper, coal, forest and farm products, salt, stone and building materials. The interchange of products of these three great districts, principally on an east and west trend, forms the basis of the business of the country. The Great Lakes basin lies practically between the other two; has an unequalled cheap facility for freighting, and plays an important part. Such an influence has its great east and west waterway exerted, that this basin has become, at its shore cities, the market and storage place for all the principal commodities of the other two basins, as well as for those most natural to itself. Any day of the year, more products of this country can be found at the shore cities of the Great Lakes, than in any other district of the United States. When it is understood that the freight charges paid railways, aggregate over six hundred million dollars annually, and that by census record, commodities carried by water were transported for about one-seventh per ton, per mile, of the charge which is obtained by rail, then it becomes clear as to the cause of the wonderful growth of shipping along the Great Lakes, and as to the advantages of lake cities. The census report for 1890 shows the movement to be over fifty-one million tons, while that of all United States sea-ports was about twenty-six million tons. In population, too, the effect is seen. As you pass out of the Atlantic basin, and go west over the divide, you find ten states, viz: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska. The first six lie along the Great Lakes. The ten have an average age, as states, of 58 years, and combined have 21,847,752 population, or nearly five millions more than the older North Atlantic ten states division, comprising New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the six New England states. The gain for thirty years, ending 1890, was: Eastern ten 6,863,558. Western ten 12,755,873. Lake Michigan represents, closely, the geographical center of this middle western district; and one of its shore cities (Chicago) is the recognized commercial center. This lake is the only one of the five, having both shores within the United States, affording an opportunity for double concentration. The effect is seen in the record of growth of lake cities last decade; the gain by lakes is as follows: Ontario, 50,605; Erie, 254,675; Huron, 123,253; Superior, 58,519; Michigan, 778,467. Contemplation of these facts and figures brings us to a point where the merits of the city of Muskegon can be considered intelligentlly. It is the third city in size on Lake Michigan; Chicago first, 114 miles distant; Milwaukee second, opposite and distant 85 miles. It is located at the mouth of the longest river in Michigan, which river widens at its mouth forming a magnificent inside harbor, very deep with twelve miles of water front available; is fifth city in Michigan; gained 101 per cent last decade, now has 25,000 population; has all the conveniences of large cities; a fine situation locally; is close to raw materials and best markets, reaching both with navigation; has diversified manufacturing, and is railway and navigation center for Western Michigan. Rapidly growing districts push new cities to the front, and Muskegon will soon obtain the recognition her advantages merit. No young city in the country affords such opportunities for manufacturers or investors."
CENTER FOR DISTRIBUTION
Not only is manufacturing an important feature in the upbuilding and permancy of cities, but a center for distribution has been the principal factor in the phenomenal growth of many place, notably New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Denver and Duluth. A city for rapid and permant progress must either have a gateway for distribution or superior advantages as a manufacturing center, and when both are combined, the immediate results are greatly enhanced. For many reasons Chicago is not adapted to the needs of the ordinary manufacturer. Muskegon possesses equal advantages in securing raw material, or the shipment of manufactured products; mechanics can here own their own homes, and progresive citizens have created a fund with which to purchase and present desirable manufacturing sites to legitimate lines of industry. With our advantages of water and rail transportation, equable climate, healthful surroundings, magnificent waterworks, which draw direct from the great lake three-quarters of a mile from shore; all the conveniences of a metropolitan city, why should not Muskegon march onward? Our nearness to raw materials and the markets of the Great Lakes basin, surrounding states rich in agriculture and dairy products, together with the many other desirable features, which are shown in later pages, make it entirely feasible to build up a large manufacturing and distributing center at this point, and if you have caught the idea that Muskegon holds the key to the situation it is unnecessary to go into further enumeration in these introductory pages. Our illustrations as well as discriptive writings are designed to be representative in character. Many of them are direct productions from photographs, and those not so taken are mostly true representations of buildings now up or under contract.
Graphics for this page are from:
Copyright © 1999 by Patti Norton. All rights reserved.