Lansing is the capital city of the U.S. state of Michigan, located mostly in Ingham County, although small portions of the city extend into Clinton and Eaton County. The area that is now Lansing was originally surveyed in 1825 in what was then some of the thickest, wildest woods in the region. Interestingly, the first settlers to the area were a group of men who were swindled by two brothers from Lansing, New York. They plotted the area and named it "Biddle City." All of the land lay in a floodplain and was underwater during the majority of the year. The brothers went back to Lansing, New York, to sell plots for the town that did not exist but told the residents of the New York town that this new "city" had an area of 65 blocks, contained a church and also a public and academic square. The group of 16 men who had bought plots in the nonexistent city reached the area later that year and found they had been scammed. Many in the group too disappointed to stay ended up settling around what is now metropolitan Lansing. Those who stayed quickly renamed the area "Lansing Township" in honor of their home village in New York.
Today, the Lansing metropolitan area, colloquially referred to as "Mid-Michigan", is an important center for educational, cultural, governmental, business, and high-tech manufacturing institutions, including three medical schools (two human medicine and one veterinary), two nursing schools, two law schools, a Big Ten Conference university (Michigan State), the state capitol, the state Supreme Court, an appellate court, a federal court, the Library of Michigan and Historical Center, and headquarters of four national insurance companies.
Most of what is known as Lansing today is the direct result of the city becoming an industrial powerhouse which began with the founding of Olds Motor Vehicle Company in August of 1897. With the establishment of one industrial giant, the city was transformed into a major American industrial center for the manufacturing of automobiles and automobile parts, along with other industries. By 1956, the city had grown to 15 square miles, and doubled in size over the next decade to its current size of roughly 33 square miles.
Presently the city's economy is diversified among government service, healthcare, manufacturing, and education. Lansing is headquarters to four major national insurance companies: Auto-Owners Insurance Company, Jackson National Life, the Accident Fund, and Michigan Millers Insurance Company. The area is also home to rapidly growing financial companies such as Siena Capital Management and Capitol Bancorp Limited. There are a number of information and bioengineering technology companies that were drawn to the area by an initiative called Prima Civitas, created by Michigan State University, in cooperation with the cities of Lansing and East Lansing, under the direction of former Lansing mayor David Hollister. Early availability of high-speed Internet in 1996, as well as the MSU, Cooley Law School, and LCC student populations, fostered an intellectual environment for information technology companies to grow and thrive.
There are many cultural and arts related festivals and events throughout the year. These include the Lansing Symphony Orchestra's many concerts throughout the year, the Lansing JazzFest, the Old Town BluesFest, and the Common Ground Festival. Theatre is well represented with the the Riverwalk Theatre (formerly the Okemos Barn Theatre), the Lansing Civic Players, The Greater Lansing Ballet Company and The Creole Gallery that brings in various musicians and hosts the Icarus Falling Theater Group.
History and visual arts are celebrated in area galleries and museums. They include the Impression 5 Science Center, a children’s museum located in an historic wagon works factory on the Grand River; The Museum of Surveying, the only museum in North America solely dedicated to surveying and mapping; The RE Olds Transportation Museum, a museum dedicated to the education of Lansing's role in the development of transportation, particularly the automobile; The Michigan Women's Historical Center & Hall of Fame, a museum dedicated to the historical accomplishments and achievements of Michigan women; and The Turner-Dodge House & Heritage Center, a museum dedicated to Lansing's early pioneers. Other attractions of this kind can be found at The Wharton Center for Performing Arts, the Kresge Art Museum, the MSU Museum, the Abrams Planetarium, and the Potter Park Zoo.