When you look at the landscape of Michigan's population base today, it's hard to believe that the Upper Peninsula was more attractive to early settlers than its southern sibling. It's true, though there may have been collections of explorers in the Lower Penisula, the Great Lakes State's first official settlement.

Michigan's 9 Oldest Cities, a Rich History of Exploration, Fur Trading, and Commerce

Of course, Michigan had been home to Indigenous peoples long before explorers crossed the Atlantic Ocean to explore our freshwater shores. Britannica.com provides a brief overview:

In the 17th century, the Native American population of what is present-day Michigan included the Ottawa, Ojibwa, Miami, and Potawatomi nations, all of which belonged to the Algonquian linguistic group. Together, the Ottawa, Ojibwa, and Potawatomi formed a loose alliance known as the “Three Fires.” Smaller numbers of Huron (Wyandot) groups, including members of the Wendat confederacy—all speakers of Iroquoian languages—were located primarily in southeastern Michigan.


When Europeans first visited Michigan in 1622, they were obviously in awe of its incredible natural resources. It wasn't long before the Mitten was filled with fur traders, middlemen, guides, and families looking to call the area home.

Related: 24K and Bulletproof: Jackson, Michigan's Bootlegging Bugg Jewelers

The French were the first to settle in the Great Lakes State, staking their claim in the Upper Penisula. Much of their success is credited to embracing the Native Americans rather than getting into conflicts according to Britannica.com:

Many native individuals became fur trappers, trade middlemen, or guides, while others, particularly women, focused on providing food to the French settlements. In turn, the French provided knives, axes, guns, metal utensils and jewelry, glass beads, cloth, and alcohol. A number of formal alliances were made between tribal and French communities, as were many personal alliances.

These friendships helped the French to create the first settlement in the State of Michigan. Where was it and which Michigan cities were among the original settlements? Let's take a look at the 9 Oldest Cities in the State of Michigan.

Michigan's 9 Oldest Cities: Counting Down to the State's 1st City

Michigan's population has slowly trickled down from the top to bottom over the last few centuries. Did you know our 1st cities were in the Upper Peninsula?



More From 99.1 WFMK