Community Profile: Midland, MI

By Ken Carlson

Pull out a map, and you’ll see that Midland, Michigan is located near the crook of the thumb of the Michigan “mitt.” It’s in the region commonly referred to as the Great Lakes Bay Region, with the cities of Saginaw and Bay City close by.

If you visited Midland in the 1850s, you would have discovered riverbanks lined with Chippewa Indian Wickiups, round huts made of bent saplings and covered with skins and bark. Perhaps you would have come across a Native American hunting or fishing while others worked crops of corn, squash, gourds, and pumpkins. The 1,000 acres in Midland now known as the Chippewa Nature Center were originally part of the 6,000 acres retained by the Chippewa Tribe under the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw.

Following the era of Native American hunters, fishermen, and white fur traders were farmers and loggers. The second largest sawmill in the Saginaw Valley was located in Midland. What is now Main Street began as a series of businesses along a dirt road constructed of timber cut from surrounding forests.

Midland County was organized in 1850, and by 1874, the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad extended through the heart of Midland. The City of Midland was incorporated in 1887.

In 1890, Herbert Henry Dow arrived in Midland and subsequently founded the Dow Chemical Company. His success enabled Midland to survive the end of the logging era and to grow to its present size. Now the heart of Michigan’s technology basin, Midland is the global headquarters of two Fortune 500 companies, Dow Chemical and Dow Corning Corporation, and home to the Midland Cogeneration Venture, the largest facility in North America to use an engine to simultaneously generate electricity and useful heat. Midland has become a center for industrial innovation and is quickly becoming a hub for the solar energy industry, emerging technologies, and a variety of entrepreneurial pursuits.

Red bridge reflected in a stream
Red bridge in the Dow Gardens. Photo by Randi Deuro, CC BY-2.0.

For all its notoriety in industry and technology, Midland is also home to culture and natural beauty. The Dow Gardens, originally created by Herbert Dow, encompasses 110 acres. Dow’s interest in agriculture and design led him to create gardens, ponds, and hills according to a simple philosophy that is followed to this day: “never reveal the gardens’ whole beauty at first glance.” The Midland Center for the Arts brings tremendous cultural opportunity to the people of the region and state. The Center is composed of six member groups: Alden B. Dow Museum of Science & Art, Center Stage Choirs, Center Stage Theatre, MATRIX:MIDLAND, Midland County Historical Society and Midland Symphony Orchestra.

Community Partner

Midland Center for the Arts

Imagine a place where art, science, history, music, theatre, dance, films, camps, classes, and professional world-class entertainers all come together under one roof! This is Midland Center for the Arts, a beautiful landmark facility where people of all ages are invited to create as well as appreciate and explore these many areas of interest. With two performance venues, two museums, art studios, lecture halls, a historical campus, and more, Midland Center for the Arts is unique among arts centers: it encourages participation in as well as appreciation for art, music, science and history.

Fun Fact

Midland was touted as the 61st safest city in the nation in 2014 by NeighborhoodScout. Midland is the only Michigan city listed in the top 100 communities recognized for this distinction.

Residency Dates

Baladino | October 13-19, 2013
Le Vent du Nord | April 6-12, 2014
Shanren | November 9-15, 2014
Paulo Padilha and Group | February 22-28, 2015

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