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Living in and Loving Kalamazoo Michigan
Kalamazoo is a county, a city, a township, a river, and a college in the state of Michigan in the United States of America.
The city of Kalamazoo is the seat of Kalamazoo County. With a 2010 population of 74,262, Kalamazoo is the largest city in the southwest area of Michigan. It is the home of Western Michigan University (WMU).
Kalamazoo is in the Eastern Time Zone. By car the city is located 147 miles east of Chicago, Illinois; 140 miles west of Detroit, Michigan, and 201 miles north of Indianapolis, Indiana, according to Google Maps. The National Weather Service coordinates for Kalamazoo are 42.29°N 85.58°W (Elev. 781 ft).
Kalamazoo has an Amtrak train station, a Greyhound bus station, and an Indian Trails bus station. All of these, and the main terminal of the Metro Transit city bus service, are located at the downtown Kalamazoo Transportation Center. The Kalamazoo / Battle Creek International Airport (AZO) is in the adjacent city of Portage. Kalamazoo is on Interstate Highway 94.
Southeast Michigan has humid, warm to hot summers and cold winters. Winter precipitation is usually in the form a snow. In Kalamazoo, January's average high temperature is 33F (.56C) and average low is 18F (-8C); July's average high is 86F (30C) and average low is 61F (16C). Average precipitation ranges from circa 2 inches in January and February to circa 4.6 inches in September. In Kalamazoo, a little less than half of the days in the year have some sunshine. The average annual humidity is 72.3%. Climate scientists expect the average air temperature in the area to go up in coming decades, affecting the economy.
While some products formerly made in Kalamazoo no longer are, such as paper from pulp wood, due to depleted resources, manufacturing is still an important part of the local economy.
Kalamazoo 2012 median household income was $44,326; the national figure was $51,371.
As of March 2012, the cost of living index in Kalamazoo was 83.6, with 100 representing the US average.
By race/ethnicity, Kalamazoo is 65.6% white, 21.7% black, 6.4% hispanic, 1.7% Asian, .4% American Indian, .2% other races, .03% Pacific Islander, and 3.9% two or more races. 91.4% of residents speak English at home and 3.8% speak Spanish at home.
Learn more about: Kalamazoo statistics, facts, figures, and data.
Kalamazoo on I94 between Chicago and Detroit
Personal Impressions of Kalamazoo
My wife and I have been Kalamazooans since July 2011. My wife was born in Kalamazoo and raised here and in the adjacent city of Portage. She received both her Bachelor degree and her second Masters degree in Kalamazoo at Western Michigan University. She delights in showing me her favorite Kalamazoo and environs traditional events, landmarks, parks, shops, and hangouts. From her I have learned some of Kalamazoo's history -- that a popular coffeehouse used to be her grandfather's gas station; that an elementary school near us used to be a school to teach deaf children to lip read; that a used book store near us looks about the same as when it was run by the current owner's father, and so on.
An early and lasting impression for me has been that Kalamazoo, as I've experienced it, is harmoniously racially integrated. When I go for a stroll, I see neighbors of both 'white' European descent and 'black' African descent, or mixed, mowing their lawns or raking fallen leaves or shoveling snow, walking their dogs, watching their children at play, and patronizing local eateries and shops.
Kalamazoo is ethnically and culturally diverse and cosmopolitan, and yet it has a small town feel.
The downtown is a vibrant place for shopping, entertainment and leisure, with an excellent main public library, lots of dining options, and a monthly "art hop". Many of the older buildings were built in the art deco architecture style.
The economy is diverse, with major employers in manufacturing, education, health services, government services, and (in the nearby rural areas) agriculture., and there are numerous shops, both locally owned and chains and franchises. While the poverty rate is relatively high (38.8% in 2010 by US census standards), I think that the city has upbeat, creative vibes. It's a good place to retire, with lots of services and accommodations for seniors.The city has an abundance of live music venues, festivals, and cultural events.
Kalamazooans face social problems with a we're in this together, community spirit. This is reflected in the public library's extensive online database of local organizations. Some of these are: Loaves & Fishes, which feeds the hungry; Ministry with Community, which helps the homeless, and ISAAC, an interfaith community organizing network.
Kalamazoo by Bryan Klinesteker
What to Do in Kalamazoo
* Visit Air Zoo theme park and aircraft museum
* Watch the Doo Dah Parade
* Visit Kalamazoo Valley Museum
* Watch a Kalamazoo Growlers baseball game
* Watch a Kalamazoo Wings hockey game
* Visit the Nature Center
* Go to Bronco Bash
* Learn to curl at Kalamazoo Curling Club
* Attend the summertime Saturday afternoons free concerts in Bronson Park, downtown kitty-corner from the public library
* Dine in local restaurants, reviewed in Kalamazoo Foodies blog
* Go occasionally or often to Art Hop, which happens monthly on (usually) first Fridays 5 to 9 p.m.. Many downtown businesses exhibit works by local artists, as do various art galleries and studios.My favorite place to visit during Kalamazoo Art Hop is the Park Trades Center. Learn more at: the Art Hop webpage of the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo
Learn more about: things to do in Kalamazoo and available resources.
Kalamazoo Annual Festivals
Name of Festival
Time of Year
Maple Sugar Festival
at the Nature Center
WMU International Festival
at Western Michigan University
Cinco De Mayo Festival
Black Arts Festival
Boiling Pot Music Festival
Music, food and culture of various nations
Taste of Kalamazoo
Culture in Kalamazoo
The Kalamazoo Public Library has a central downtown library and four branch libraries.
The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts includes an art museum and an art school.
Kalamazoo has more than a dozen theatres that present live productions.
The Kalamazoo Promise
Education in Kalamazoo
In the Kalamazoo public school system, there are 17 elementary schools, including some magnet schools—one focusing on international studies, another of which is a Montessori school, another focusing on writing, and another focusing on science and technology. There are five middle schools, of which one is an alternative learning school and two are magnet schools. There are four high schools, one of which is a "mathematics and science center". Thanks to an anonymous philanthropist, the "Kalamazoo promise" is that every student who completes K-12 grades in the Kalamazoo public school system gets to go to college for free. Go to this link to learn more about Kalamazoo public schools.
Kalamazoo also has two Catholic elementary schools and a Catholic high school. The Kalamazoo Christian Schools Association has an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school. There are additional Christian schools and other private schools, such as Gagie School. And there is more than one Kalamazoo home school association.
Kalamazoo is famous for being:
the birthplace of Edna Ferber;
in the title of the Glen Miller song I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo;
the original home of the Gibson guitar company
the site of the first (1959) outdoor pedestrian shopping mall in the US;
damaged by a May 13, 1980 tornado.