Is Capitol building a landmark of Lansing?

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By Meg Dedyne
Listen Up, Lansing staff reporter

The Capitol is seen as a major landmark of Lansing, according to Kaylee Mead, who has worked in the building for three years.

The Capitol is seen as a major landmark of Lansing, according to Kaylee Mead, who has worked in the building for three years. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

Kaylee Mead drives her usual 45-minute commute from Brighton to Lansing every morning on her way to work and said there is one thing she always notices — the Michigan State Capitol.

Mead has been interning and working at the Capitol for three years now and said that every morning her commute is worth it because she loves driving in and seeing the State Capitol building accompanied by a beautiful sunrise.

“Not growing up around here, I never thought of Lansing as much more than the Capitol of Michigan,” Mead said. “Now that I drive here every morning, I love seeing the Capitol building because it is familiar and actually really pretty.”

According to Mead, she and others in her office think of the Capitol building as iconic.

“I hope that most people would think of the Capitol as an icon and make a point to visit it if they aren’t from around here,” Mead said. “I hope the locals also take the time to enjoy it because I feel like it is something people living in the area take for granted.”

According to Mindvalley Omharmonics reviewed and  Carl Taylor, sociology professor at Michigan State University, entertainment, sports, restaurants and other more obvious features hypnotize society in a region. People don’t always notice the historical factors or large landmarks in a city if they don’t think they will be much interest to them.

“People in Michigan are looking for something they can’t get at home,” Taylor said. “Grand Rapids has really turned into a major attraction and Detroit is starting to get

The Michigan State Capitol is located near Lansing Community College and Cooley Law School Stadium

The Michigan State Capitol is located near Lansing Community College and Cooley Law School Stadium. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

back on the map. In a cosmopolitan area, what people think of as landmarks are what interests them, so it really depends on preference.”

Taylor said that landmarks and icons in a city are things that they are known for, including what people think of when a certain city is mentioned. There is always something in every city that is different and unique. It usually stands out against the other attractions that bring people in.

“I think the dome especially makes the Capitol building iconic,” Mead said. “It is such an interesting and unique part of the Michigan Capitol. It is so beautiful, especially after the restoration.”

Mead said her favorite time to view the dome is at night when it is lit up because it is an amazing view. She was able to tour the dome twice and found that there were secret doorways and passages. During the tours, she said they crawled through the walls of the dome to get to the top.

Jill Arnold, archivist for the archives of Michigan, said she thinks of the landmarks of Lansing to be those she can take her young daughter to.

“I live in the neighborhood just west of the Capitol and I think the building differentiates us from surrounding communities,” Arnold said. “But I also think of landmarks to be those such as Impression 5 in Lansing, where I can take my daughter on the weekends and spend some time.”

According to Valerie Marvin, the Capitol historian and the president of the Historical Society of Greater Lansing, the Capitol is the center of the historical downtown community and the anchor that has attracted other institutions to the region.

“I do believe that the Capitol is Lansing’s greatest landmark,” Marvin said. “It is appropriate that the Capitol’s dome is prominent on the City of Lansing’s logo.

The City of Lansing's logo is featured on the Lansing City Hall building located at 124 W. Michigan Ave. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

The City of Lansing’s logo is featured on the Lansing City Hall building located at 124 W. Michigan Ave. Photo taken by Meg Dedyne.

The City of Lansing’s logo includes the top of the Capitol building, which includes the dome as well. It is featured on the front of Lansing City Hall, signage downtown, Lansing police cars and more.

According to Nicholas Soucy, special assistant for Mayor Virg Bernero, an old city seal was created in the 1950s to celebrate Lansing’s centennial birthday, which was a log cabin seal. After that, there was an earlier version of the current seal, but with black trees that was commissioned by the previous mayor, David Hollister. When Bernero came into office, he updated the logo to have green trees for a more vibrant appearance.

“I’ve been working downtown for nearly three years now and my favorite part of the Capitol building is the dome,” said Whitney Pung, who works in the Grandview Plaza building just a few blocks east of the Capitol. “I love everything the dome and the building stand for.”

According to Pung, the Capitol is the true backbone of the greater Lansing area.

“I think the atmosphere downtown Lansing is very inviting and there are a lot of options for stuff to do,” said Abby Turner, student assistant for the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons in the Victor building. “I have always been drawn to the Capitol building; it’s a unique and beautiful building to walk around and explore.”

Turner said she has enjoyed working in downtown Lansing for a long time and her favorite part is meeting new people that come into her building or that she meets walking around the Capitol. She has found that the staff of the Capitol has very interesting stories.

“I think that it is really cool that the Capitol is open to the public,” said Madison Miller, who works for the Michigan Department of Corrections in the Grandview Plaza building downtown Lansing. “Sometimes on my lunch break I’ll go and walk through the bottom floor of the Capitol which is really cool to explore.”

According to Miller, she thinks of the Capitol as a landmark of Lansing because it is very centrally located and a huge eye-catching building.

Many people visit the Capitol on their lunch break because of its central location, according to Madison Miller, who works downtown Lansing.

Many people visit the Capitol on their lunch break because of its central location, according to Madison Miller, who works downtown Lansing. Map made by Meg Dedyne.

“People are going to be drawn to different landmarks at different times,” said Taylor. “There isn’t necessarily one landmark or icon for each city and it doesn’t mean landmarks aren’t going to change from year to year or decade to decade.”

Whether a landmark will grow and prosper also depends on the upkeep, promotion and public interest, according to Taylor. The city itself also plays a factor in whether people will come and visit the landmark in the future.

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