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1922 Polk Directory of Bay City History & Statistics

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"The Glad Hand Town"
(Furnished by Bay City Chamber of Commerce)

Bay City, Michigan -- a neighborly sort of place is this city located where the Saginaw River empties into Saginaw Bay, an arm of Lake Huron. It has over 51,000 population: modern industry is exemplified in world-known plants; a 16-mile harbor with corresponding dockage is available for the largest boats -- when the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence tidewater route is in operation, Bay City will be a more important water port than ever; Saginaw Bay fisheries yield over 9,000,000 pounds of fish each year; over 250,000,000 pounds of sugar are produced annually; several million tons of excellent coal mined; millions of feet of all kinds of lumber manufactured. The city is under charter commission - city manager form of government; it is popularly known as the "Glad-Hand Town."

Crapo block
Crapo Block

The wide, shaded streets, the spacious, well-kept lawns, the parks with their happy children, the various colonies of summer homes, all contribute to this impression of neighborliness. The gatherings in the clubs, the meeting on the streets, heighten the belief that Bay City folk are for Bay City folk, whether they are born here or come to cast their lot with those who were. Delving into the records of men who have made Bay City brings the proof. The largest industries did not come from the outside. They were born of the vision and nerve of Bay City men; they were nursed through their infancy and brought to the present success -- a success which takes the products of a number of them, wherever transportation reaches -- by Bay City men and it was Bay City capital which financed them through. Bay City never had a so-called boom; its growth in comparison to some of the cities in the central states, has not been phenomenal; yet growth has been solid and substantial. In short,

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Bay City, by becoming a co-partner with its industrial pioneers has developed right along with its industries. Furthermore, under this system, local capital stays, and is used to develop other industries. The result is that there are now 128 large plants employing approximately 11,600 with a payroll of millions; a large percentage of all the workers own their own homes. Bay City turns out 110 important different articles and from this comes the name "The City of Diversified Industries."

This spirit of neighborliness which brought about the industrial development, has made the city largely independent of the rest of the state; were it cut off from other communities, it could feed itself clothe itself, provide its own sugar for its coffee and even a substitute for its coffee, because it is the center of the chicory belt. It could smoke its own cigars; could have fish every day of the week; the words "coal famine" are meaningless because of the half dozen mines with a supply of soft coal regarded as inexhaustible; there are

Phoenix block
Phoenix Block

cattle on the rich pastures in the country, sheep on the wilder lands, and hogs in the pens of farmers. Nor would the lack of meat savor because of the extensive salt industry.

The busy factories; the shipments to all the world; the turning out of mighty locomotive cranes, the kind with which the Panama Canal was dug, and which were so much in evidence in France during the World's War; the 59 miles of paved streets, the 20 public schools; the 16 parochial and diocesan schools; the 56 churches and missions; the service of the following railroads; Michigan Central R.R. (5 divisions), Grand Trunk Ry. (electric); the two belt lines connecting all industries with the various railroads -- look at the map. These are the Bay City of today.

Comparatively speaking, only a few years ago the present site of Bay City was a Hudson's Bay Co., trading post, the principal building where the Wenonah Hotel now stands. It was not until

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1842 that a school house was opened. About that time capitalists were attracted by the possibilities of Bay City's white pine forests; Bay City was chosen the site of an experimental mill. The success led to the building of others, then came the hectic days when the red sash, the staged trousers and caulked books were everywhere. All along the Saginaw River these great mills were cutting, slashing and ripping the sweet-scented logs.

Bay City was the first town in Michigan to erect a sugar factory; it was the first large ship building center on the Great Lakes; it was the first great lumbering center in Michigan. The first railroad and traveling cranes in Michigan were manufactured here. Bay City has the pioneer firm constructing "readi-cut houses."

Unusually interesting plants are: Knitting mills, sugar factories, chicory factories, alcohol factory, chemical factories, ship yards, electric transformer works, motor works, motor truck factory, veneer factories, dredge works, canning factories, furniture factories,

Mason Temple
Mason Temple

automobile body factories, salt blocks, automobile tires and tubes factory.

Bay City has thirteen parks, also one state park; over $250,000 has been expended on Wenonah Park. The magnificent Board of Commerce building containing its offices and club, is unsurpassed by any similar structure in the middle states, in a city of its size.

The Board of Commerce is composed of the men whose vision in the past has made Bay City, and the young men whose vision will make the new Bay City. This organization points with price and pleasure to the miles of dockage; the harbor; industrial sites, many of them having dock and railroad facilities; the transportation lines; the unlimited supply of coal mined in Bay County; cheap water transportation; health of the community; its desirability as a home city.

Bay City is proud of her past, equally of her present, sure of her future. She accords a cordial and sincere welcome to here guests.

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Young Women's Christian Association

Young Men's Christian Association

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  • Population 1921: 52,358
  • Area: 11.05 square miles
  • Altitude: 600 feet above sea level
  • Assessed Valuation, 1921: $48,165,730.00
  • Bonded Debt, 1921: $1,396,800.00
  • Sinking fund to apply on bonds, 1921: 464,831.90
  • Miles of Street: 201
  • Miles of Paving: 59
  • Miles of Public Sewers: 178
  • Miles of Electric Street Railway: 26.19

    Columbia Sugar Co.
    Columbia Sugar Co.

    Industrial Works
    Industrial Works

  • Miles of Gas Mains: 74
  • Parks and Parkways: Number of (also 1 state park): 13
    - Number of acres: 112
    - Value: $680,000.00
  • Water Works: Capacity: 25,000,000 gallons
    - Daily Average No. of Gallons Pumped: 9,500,000 gallons
    - Miles of Water Mains: 124
    - Value of Plant: $2,600,000.00
  • Fire Department: Number of Men: 86
    - Number of Station Houses: 7
    - Number of Horses: 5
    - Number of Autos (for chief): 1
    - Number of Triple Combination Hose, Chemical and Pump Autos: 3
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  • (Continued.)
    - Number of Combination Hose and Chemical Autos: 2
    - Number of Combination Truck and Chemical Autos: 2
    - Number of Straight Hose Autos: 2
    - Value of Apparatus: $108,000.00
    - Value of Buildings and Real Estate: $145,000.00
  • Police Department: Number of Men: 53
    - Number of Stations: 1
  • Schools -- Public: Number of Schools: 20
    - Number of Teachers: 238
    - Number of Pupils: 6,840
  • Schools -- Parochial and Diocesan: 16
  • Schools -- Miscellaneous -- Business College: 1
  • Number of Books in Sage Public Library: 42,000
  • Number of Books in Carnegie Library: 45,000

    Davidson Block
    Davidson Block

  • Post Office Receipts, 1921: $254,064.34
  • Number of Banks and Trust Companies: 8
  • Bank Deposits, 1921: $21,116,196.44
  • Christmas Club Deposits, 1921: $310,000,00
  • Number of Theaters and Motion Picture Houses: 11
  • Number of Hospitals: 5
  • Number of Hotels: 18
  • Manufacturing: Number of Factories: 128
    - Number of Operatives: 11,600
    - Wages Paid Annually: $11,800,000.00
    - Value of Annual Output: $76,000,000.00
  • Value of Real Estate Transfers, 1921: 8,129,000.00
  • Number of Real Estate Transfers, 1921: 2,439
  • Value of Building Permits, 1921: 1998 Permits, Value $1,158,180.60
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    The Board of Commerce is the organization through which public-spirited citizens in this community may express themselves collectively on questions of general welfare, and through which they may make their collective desires effective. It is based upon the well recognized principle that more can be accomplished by working together for a common purpose than by individual effort.

    The Board of Commerce does not attempt to usurp the functions of local city government, but co-operates with and assists government and all other proper agencies authorized for special purposes. Its work is to ascertain what the local problems are, formulate plans for their solution and then proceed to solve them. The problems as ascertained and determined upon, form its program of activities, and committees are appointed to make the program effective -- to improve conditions found to need improvement and

    Board of Commerce Building
    Board of Commerce Building

    to eliminate evils found to exist. In order to attain its maximum efficiency, the organization has wise counsellors, aggressive leadership and enthusiastic workers.

    Any person who really desires to be an integral part of this community cannot afford to be without a membership in the Board of Commerce. The man who will not lend his brains, his energy and some of his money to the efforts of his fellow citizens in directing the constructive forces of his community along the course that is best for the city as a whole is not a useful citizen, in the accepted sense of the term. No man has a right to refuse his support to a community movement any more than the community has a right to refuse its protection to any man. Many men count a membership in the Board of Commerce as being as necessary to their business as light, telephone, heat and advertising -- they are our most successful business men too. The most potent constructive influence in a community is a body of business and professional men banded together for the purpose of improving its citizenship. No citizen takes a real interest in his town until he does something for it. There is bound to be growth where there is action; people are attracted to a community that is alive.

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    The Board of commerce occupies a splendid building located on the main throughfare in center of the city. Here are the offices and the well-equipped club of the organization. During 1921, 129 organizations held over 1500 meetings in this building. Affiliated with he Board of Commerce are: Retail Merchants' Ass'n.' Manufacturers Association; Employee Association of Saginaw Valley; Bay City Motor Club; Automobile and Accessories Dealers Ass'n.; Grocers and Butchers Ass'n.; Real Estate Board; United Commercial Travelers; National Association of Letter Carriers; American Legion; Veterans of Foreign Wars; Civic League; School Teachers' Association, and a number of other organizations including several woman's clubs.

    Rotary, Kiwanis, Exchange, Lions and Metropolitan clubs actively support the board's activities.


    A library of City Directories has been established in the rooms of the Bay City Board of Commerce for the free use of patrons and the general public. This library contains the latest editions of all City Directories published in the State of Michigan, as well as directories

    C.R. Wilson Body Co.
    C.R. Wilson Body Co.

    of many cities throughout the country. As the latest directories are issued they will be added to the library, thereby keeping it up-to-date from year to year.

    Advertising Bay City

    An important function of the Directory is to set forth the characteristics and advantages of the city as a place of residence, as a business location, as an industrial site and as an educational centre. The Directory acts as a mirror, reflecting all that is noteworthy in the city in the above respects. In order to spread this information regarding the city broadcast over the country the publishers place copies of this issue of the Directory in Directory Libraries which are maintained in all the larger cities of the country where they are readily available for reference use by the public. There they serve as perpetual advertisements of Bay City, for business men the country over realize that the City Directory represents the community as it really is.

    Related Notes & Pages

    By 1922 Bay City had a diverse manufacturing economy with several heavy industries, a number of which were among the leaders in their field. Lumbering was no longer the dominate engine of the economy.

    The city's population was over 52,000, and the future looked bright. The city's population would stablize as more chose to live in neighboring communities. Beginning in the 1960s that trend the trend towards living in the suburd sped up and many of the industries that provided good jobs closed or downsized their operations in face of growing competition.

    As the city entered the 21st Century, it's population had dropped to under 37,000, and most of the old industrial businesses were gone.
    Image Notes
    Board of Commerce
    Jefferson st., w. of County bldg.

    Columbia Sugar Co.

    n.w. cor. Washington & Center aves.

    C.R. Wilson Body Co.
    Farragut, s. of 23rd st.

    Washington ave. & 4th st, s.e. cor.

    Industrial Works:
    w.s. of Saginaw st., s. of Columbus ave.

    Mason Temple:
    Madison ave. & 6th st., n.e. cor.

    Washington & Center aves., s.w. cor.


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