Kalamazoo, MI, with its fertile soil has led the area to be called the "Bedding Plant Capital of the World." The county is home to the largest bedding plant cooperative in the United States. Hundreds of thousands of plants of many varieties of are displayed throughout the county's parks and boulevards. Each year untold numbers are sold to home gardeners and landscapers nationwide. Kalamazoo is also known as "The Mall City," as they constructed the first outdoor pedestrian shopping mall in the United States in 1959.
In 2001, the Kalamazoo Public Library was awarded "Library of the Year" by Library Journal.
After the Civil War, paper manufacturers began setting up shop in the Kalamazoo River Valley and in 1885, a physician from Hastings, Michigan, invented a pill making machine. William Erastus Upjohn developed the first readily dissolvable pill. He had moved to Kalamazoo to seek his business future and started the Upjohn Pill and Granule Company-later Pharmacia & Upjohn and now Pfizer. Pfizer is one of the world's leading pharmaceutical firms.
Kalamazoo is on the Kalamazoo River. The city has a natural history museum, an art institute, a planetarium, an aviation museum, and a symphony orchestra, and is home to Western Michigan University.
A variety of accommodations are available in Kalamazoo, and it ranges from modern to award winning choices. The Radisson Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center, is a newly expanded Four Diamond award-winning Center that is conveniently located downtown nearby businesses and the shopping district.
The Baymont Inn & Suites is just two miles from Western Michigan University on the city's west side. The Best Western Hospitality Inn is conveniently located and is a business-oriented hotel.
The Oakwood Bistro is a favorite for where diners leave satisfied; other good restaurants in the area to experience include: McGinni's Landing Restaurant; and the Brovo! Restaurant and Cafe.
Kalamazoo County is home to Southwest Michigan's premier regional shopping center, The Crossroads Mall. Downtown Kalamazoo is known as “Central City” and there are six districts for variety of selections.
A wealth of cultural and entertainment offerings, from classical to jazz, to traveling Broadway shows, the city boosts of nine live theaters, three colleges and a major university, with a wide variety of artists and musicians.
The Barn Theatre, Michigan’s oldest professional summer stock theatre, features guest artists from Broadway and television.
The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts has 10 galleries showcasing contemporary exhibitions and significant permanent collections. While the collection's emphasis is 20th-century American painting and sculpture, it also includes an extensive European and American print collection, as well as important collections of photography.
There are a number of art galleries, and the city is also home to the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.
The college-town influence brings synergy as a notable center for the arts. Among the local theater groups are the Kalamazoo Civic ,New Vic Theatre and there are also productions by the college students. Noted name stars and groups often perform at the State Theatre, Miller Auditorium at Western Michigan University.
The Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum, located at the airport, has many antique planes that are flyable. In downtown Kalamazoo, the Valley Museum hosts a "hands-on" museum aimed largely at children which also has a Planetarium.
Kalamazoo is the birthplace of the Kalamazoo Valley Museum,a nationwide moped club, and they host an annual Memorial Day event which attracts riders from all over the United States.
Written by: Karen J. Lee