HOME - Front Page
Communties \ Bay City Main Page / History Page

Bay City Main Page


City Hall: 302 Washington Avenue
Post Office: Bay City, MI 48708
Phone: 989-894-8146 Website: [Bay City]

Bay City was first platted as the village of Lower Saginaw in 1838. Its name was changed to Bay City when Bay County was organized in 1857, and in 1865, it was incorporated as a city. {Nathan B. Bradley} was elected as the city's first major. (See "City Time Line" below.)

Bay City is the county seat. Most of the county's agencies and associations are located here. The city shares common borders with the City of Essexville and the townships of Bangor, Frankenlust, Hampton, Merritt, Monitor and Portsmouth.

Saginaw had the first white settlement in this area in 1819. Larger ships had difficulty navigating the shallower water near the Saginaw settlement. Many of the early pioneers moved to Lower Saginaw as it became clear its deeper waters made it a better location for growth. By 1860, Lower Saginaw was become a bustling community of about 2,000 with several mills and many small businesses in operation. In 1865 the village of Bay City incorporated as a city. It was a time of rapid growth with lumbering and shipbuilding creating many job.

Bay City could easily have been called River City for it is the Saginaw River that had the greatest impact on its people. Indians populated this chosen area for location and the bountiful y it was early industrialists it was the highway floating lumber to the mills and factories that turned the timber logs into products that were hauled by ships to far away destinations and bring in goods need for commerce here. The Saginaw was and still is a river of commerce to Bay City and our neighboring community of Saginaw. But, it's river banks are no longer the industrial base that once were. They have been transformed into an oasis of large parks enjoyed by the people of this community, and an increasing use for residential dwellings and small merchant operations. Up Town At River Edge, the name given to a new frontage develop will dramatic change the river front landscape one the home of the giant crane manufacturer Industrial Brownhoist. Like a hundred years earlier, it is an exciting time to be a part of.


View from Wenonah Park on Water Street looking east towards Center Ave. Ring of Friendship Fountain on the right and behind it is the Delta Planetarium, further back are heritage buildings.

Two major business districts and parks are located opposite each other on the banks of the river. The river frontage that was once used primarily for industrial applications has changed dramatically over the years. The many sawmills, shipyards and other industries that contributed to a rapidly growing population and wealth have for the most part been replaced with parks, boating harbors, recreational fields and residential buildings. Plans are underway now will transform a former large industrial area along the east river bank for building a new hotel-conference center, another residential community and a business park for merchants.

The Bay City community takes pride in its heritage. Important steps have been taken to preserve many of the fine original buildings built during the boom of the lumbering era, a number of these are registered as historical landmarks by the state and national government. City ordinances are in place that define historical districts to assure preservation of these unique structures will endure.

Video: City Hall Exterior.

Video: City Hall Interior.

More videos of Bay City, such as River of Time, Tallship Celebration, etc.,
can be seen on YouTube: [Bay-Journal Channel]

Community Resources:
Government/Education Other
  • City Offices
  • Fire Department

    Education:
  • Bay County Library System
  • All Saints Central High School
  • Bay City Public Schools
  • Bay Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Bay Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Bay City Jaycees
  • Bay City Lions Club
  • Bay City Morning Rotary Club
  • Directories | Web White Pages | Web Yellow Pages | Tourist Center

    Communities Menu
    Bay City
    Bangor Twsp.
    Beaver Twsp.-Willard
    Frankenlust Twsp.
    Fraser Twsp.
    Garfield Twsp - Crump
    Gibson Twsp.
    Hampton - Essexville
    Kawkawlin Twsp.
    Merritt Twsp.
    Monitor Twsp.
    Mount Forest Twsp.
    Pinconning Twsp.
    Portsmouth Twsp.
    Williams Twsp.- Auburn
    Historical Population
    Year: Residents / Value
    1860: 700 / $530,589
    1865: 3,359 / $663,000
    1870: 7,064 / $1,166,475
    1873: Portsmouth merger
    1874: 13,676 / $1,700,250
    1876: 17,000 / $1,718,175
    1877: 18,000 / (D)
    1880: 20,693 / $7,722,310
    1884: 29,415 / $9,102,655
    1885: 31,000 / 10,044,240 (E)
    1898: 34,042 / (D)
    1905: West Bay City merger
    1910: 45,166 / (D)
    1920: 47,554 / (D)
    1922: 52,358 / $48,165,732 (D)
    1930: 47,355 / (C)
    1940: 47,956 / $50,153,163 (D)
    1950: 52,523 / (C)
    1960: 53,604 / (C)
    1970: 41,593 / (C)
    1980: 44,728 / (C)
    1990: 38,936 / (C)
    2000: 36,817 / (C)
    2010: 34,932 / (C)
    Sources:
    Bay City Tribune 1885 except for:
    (C) U.S. Census
    (D) Directory, books, reports, etc.
    (E) Estimate
    City Time Line
    1837:
    Saginaw Bay Company plats "Lower Saginaw" for a settlement.
    1849:
    Registered as a village.
    1857:
    Renamed "Bay City."
    1865:
    Incorporated as a "city."
    1873:
    Annexation of Portmouth Village.
    1905:
    Merger with west Bay City.
    West Bay City History

    1865:
    Prior to this date, the west side of the Saginaw Area was a wilderness with only a few scattered settlements in the Banks and Salzburg areas. James McGraw and Henry Sage, lumbering barons from New York, purchased property from Elizabeth Birney and her brother, Dr. Fitzhugh on which they built a huge sawmill (Considered the world's largest when it opened.). The mill with it's large work force gave birth to the company town known as Wenona.

    1877:
    The villages of Banks, Salzburg and Wenona merge to create West Bay City.

    1905:
    West Bay City with about 15,000 citizens merged with Bay City to create the present geographical area of Bay City. First election held Apr 3.

    Related Notes:
    Banks was founded by Joseph Trombley, the nephew of Leon Trombley who was Bay City's first permanent white settler. Joseph and Mador (brothers) built historical Trombley House now located in Veterans Memorial Park.

    Salzburg was founded by Dr. Daniel H. Fitzhugh. Fitzhugh was a close friend of James G. Birney who married Elizabeth Fitzhugh, Daniel's sister. Birney was a national leader in the abolitionist movement and twice ran for the U.S. presidency.
    Adopt a Piece of History!
    Contact Bay-Journal if you would like to contribute content.