Midland, Michigan, USA Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Midland, Michigan, USA

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A small urban area, with a population of roughly 40,000, within the southern peninsula of Michigan.

Midland, Michigan is a smallish city in the Tri-city region of Michigan. The town was given the name Midland because it is a very mediocre area, caught between the exciting urban area in the south, consisting of Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids, and the gorgeous wilderness still preserved in the northern half of the lower peninsula. The population as of April 2010 was 41,863, some of whom probably listen to a Christian radio station – one in a series in the Smile-FM network.

Midland is also the headquarters of Dow Chemical and Dow Corning, which supports most of the working population. Dow Chemical is the second largest chemical manufacturer in the world. It is often joked that the smog from the Dow plants have formed a 'bubble' around Midland which protects it from heavy storms. Crime in Midland is almost unheard of, and most people are fairly kind to one another overall (though it is not guaranteed that they will be willing to pick up hitchhikers).


The city of Midland recently installed numerous ugly green and red signs throughout the town intended to help tourists to find their way around. The signs were most likely made intentionally ugly so they would be difficult to miss. It is doubtful that there are enough tourists to make this action worthwhile. The sign erected at the Midland city limit identifies it as the 'City of Modern Explorers', whatever that's supposed to mean.


Midland includes a significant number of restaurant chains including Fazoli's, Olive Garden, McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Arby's, Taco Bell, Domino's, Pizza Hut, Cottage Inn Pizza, Little Caesar's, Subway, Asian Express, Pi's, and Big Boy. There are also some local restaurants, such as Good Times Pizza. Many of these restaurants are conveniently located in the same area and some have second locations at the other end of town.


Midland has a fairly large shopping centre, including Barnes & Noble, Target, JC Penny, Elder Beerman, Kohl's, Radio Shack, Payless, Sears, and a food court with several restaurants. Meijer, Walmart, Best Buy, Office Max and Staples are located nearby. There are also some local stores, including LaLonde's Market, Glover's Pharmacy, and Collectors' Corner.


There are a number of hotels in Midland which fill the various niches with accommodation for both business visitors and low-cost student dives. The H hotel is a well-equipped five star accommodation in central Midland. At the other end of the spectrum there is the typical spread of low rent Inns with cheap prices for basic rooms.


There are a number of schools in Midland. At the college level is Northwood University. There are two high schools, HH Dow High School and Midland High School. The three middle schools are Central, Jefferson, and Northeast. There are numerous elementary schools, including Plymouth, Adams, Eastlawn, and Parkdale. All are a part of Midland Public Schools and are usually compared favourably with the schools of nearby communities.


There is a saying among Midland's inhabitants: 'If you don't like the weather in Michigan, just wait five minutes.' This seems true for the most part. Afternoon temperatures in July range between 70 and 80°F (21-27°C), morning lows around 60°F (16°C). These highs drop quickly during September and October; early morning temperatures in midwinter fall to between −12 and −15°C and climb to just below the freezing point by afternoon. Very low temperatures are rare but do occur, though only in deep midwinter. An example of a very low temperature was −22°C recorded on 15 January, 2009. Heaviest snowfall happens in January, but you will hardly ever see any deep snow here. You are most likely to need a raincoat in March, April or October. Summer can be wet or dry, with Spring and Autumn days reaching around the 50 to 60°F (10-16°C) mark. Overall, the weather during the year can be classified moderately inclement.

Sights of Interest

  • One of the best known sights is the Dow Diamond, home of the Great Lakes Loons baseball team. While here you could pop in and see Lou E Loon, the energetic bird who is the ambassador of fun for the team. One of the many 'dow' organisations, it had its naming rights bought by Dow Chemicals.

  • Another well-known landmark is Dow Gardens, an expansive and beautiful chunk of nature which charges a fairly low admission fee. The Gardens are a popular place for pictures on the days of Homecoming and Prom. The grounds, over 110 acres in total, have been supported by the Dow family since 1899.

  • Near Dow Gardens is the Midland Center for the Arts, a place which frequently exhibits plays and other performances in its expansive auditorium. The Center includes a small 3-level museum of science, with a travelling exhibit on the third floor. The Center is the base for over 2,000 volunteers who help the community, and tens of thousands of visitors every year.

  • Just a stone's throw away from the Center is the Grace A Dow Memorial Library. The library is a fairly large building with an excellent and thorough collection of books and other media. Internet access is available to cardholders over the age of 18. Even if you don't have a library card, you can still browse the collection and stop for a snack in the small cafe.

  • The Midland Community Center is the home of several activities including indoor swimming, racquetball, basketball and various children's programmes. Dance and swimming lessons are available. A small fee is required to access any one specific area of the building, or a slightly larger fee for an anywhere-in-the-building pass. Memberships are available which provide a discount for frequent visitors. Near the shopping area is the NCG Cinema, a multi-screen cineplex which gets its movies upon their release. Studio M has two screens and is slightly cheaper, but does not receive new movies until the first-run cinemas have done with them.

  • Also of interest is the Pere Marquette Rail Trail, an old train track which has been paved over. All non-motor vehicles are welcome on the trail, free of charge. The trail passes near the Farmer's Market, Emerson Skate Park, and the Tridge, a three-way pedestrian bridge which crosses both the Chippewa and Tittabawasee rivers. The park at one of the ends is a popular place to view the 4 July fireworks.

Famous Residents

  • In a city that reflects much of his touch, it is unsurprising that Midland's most famous resident, Herbert H Dow, is the founder of Dow Chemical. Fired from his first job because he spent funds on trying to improve the process of electrolysis, he moved to Midland and started Dow Chemical. He broke the near monopoly that was held by a German cartel.

  • Alden B Dow, the son of the aforementioned Herbert Dow, was a famed Architect. Soon after graduating from University he founded a novel way of building using unit blocks. Instead of cubes he stacked six-sided rhombuses that were incredibly strong when placed together. He later designed a town in Texas for his father's company that lacked a single straight road. He was honoured as the best architect in Michigan in 1983, but died not long after.

  • Cathy Guisewite (born 1950) is a famous comedian who created the syndicated comic strip Cathy. This is a cartoon based on a career woman dealing with relationships, work, food and her mother — or 'the four basic guilt groups' as Cathy puts it. Awarded the Reuben award for Best Cartoonist of the Year, she has also been presented with seven honorary degrees to accompany her BA in English.

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