Michigan: Kalamazoo County

Kalamazoo County (pop. 250,331) is west of Calhoun County. It’s the only Kalamazoo County in the U.S. The origin of the word “Kalamazoo” is uncertain.

The county seat of Kalamazoo County is the city of Kalamazoo (pop. 74,262).

Arcadia Creek flows into the Kalamazoo River.

The Kalamazoo Mall, built in 1959, was the first outdoor pedestrian shopping mall in the U.S. Four downtown blocks were eventually closed to traffic; two blocks reopened in 1998.

The mall in the early ’60s

Kalamazoo is the home of the public Western Michigan University (1903), with about 24,000 students, and the private Kalamazoo College (1833), with about 1,400 students.

Aerial view of WMU

The State Theatre in downtown Kalamazoo, built in 1927, hosts a variety of concerts and other events.

An “atmospheric” movie palace

The song “(I’ve Got a Gal in) Kalamazoo” was a hit for Glenn Miller and His Orchestra in 1942.

The Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital, which opened in 1859, is the largest mental health institution in Michigan.

The water tower is a local landmark.

Amtrak’s “Wolverine” (between Chicago and Pontiac) and “Blue Water” (between Chicago and Port Huron) both stop at the Kalamazoo Transportation Center, which incorporates the Michigan Central Railroad depot.

Built in 1887

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter grew up in Kalamazoo. He starred in baseball and basketball at Kalamazoo Central High School.

A tornado hit Kalamazoo on May 13, 1980, killing five people and injuring 79. About 1,200 people were left homeless.

The Air Zoo is an aviation museum in the city of Portage (pop. 46,292), just south of Kalamazoo, adjacent to the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International Airport.

Founded in 1977

The Barn Theatre, in the village of Augusta (pop. 885), is Michigan’s oldest professional summer stock theater company.

It opened in 1946.


michigan counties working



2 comments on “Michigan: Kalamazoo County

  1. dot says:

    hey bob, i say we go work at the barn theater! 🙂 dot

  2. John Dodds says:

    I can’t get that song out of my head now!

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