Bay City is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan, at the base of the Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 36,817. It is the county seat of Bay County6.
The city is served by MBS International Airport, located in nearby Freeland. Bay City was once the home for several now-closed industries including the Defoe Shipbuilding Company (ceased operations December 31, 1975), which built destroyer escorts, guided missile destroyers, and patrol craft for the United States Navy; and Industrial Brownhoist, which built construction cranes.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 29.3 km2 (11.3 mi2). 27.0 km2 (10.4 mi2) of it is land and 2.4 km2 (0.9 mi2) of it is water. The total area is 8.12% water.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 36,817 people, 15,208 households, and 9,322 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,365.5/km2 (3,537.1/mi2). There are 16,259 housing units at an average density of 603.0/km2 (1,562.0/mi2). The racial makeup of the city is 91.19% White, 2.72% African American, 0.74% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 2.47% from other races, and 2.33% from two or more races. 6.72% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 15,208 households out of which 30.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.4% are married couples living together, 14.7% have a female householder with no husband present, and 38.7% are non-families. 32.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 12.8% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.38 and the average family size is 3.04.
In the city the population is spread out with 25.5% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 30.5% from 25 to 44, 20.5% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 35 years. For every 100 females there are 92.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 88.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $30,425, and the median income for a family is $38,252. Males have a median income of $32,094 versus $21,494 for females. The per capita income for the city is $16,550. 14.6% of the population and 10.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 19.1% of those under the age of 18 and 10.5% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Bay City was first established in 1837, and was incorporated as a city in 1865. Twenty-five years after Leon Trombley became the first permanent settler to build a log-cabin along the river at what is now Fourth Street, Bay City became the largest community in the county and the location of the county seat of government. Most of the county's agencies and associations are located here. The city shares common borders with Essexville and the townships of Bangor, Frankenlust, Hampton, Merritt, Monitor, and Portsmouth.
Bay City was originally known as "Lower Saginaw," and attached to Saginaw County until Bay County was organized in 1857. The name was then changed to Bay City. 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 jobs. To early industrialists the Saginaw River was a highway used to float lumber to the mills and factories that turned the timber into money. Many of the mansions built during this era are registered as historical landmarks by the state and federal government.
In 1873, Charles C. Fitzhugh, Jr., a Bay City pioneer, and his wife, Jane, purchased land and built a home on property bounded by Washington, Saginaw, Ninth and Tenth Streets, which later became the location for City Hall. Fitzhugh dealt on a large scale in wild lands and farms, being an agent for over 25,000 acres (101 km2) of land in Bay County. During this time, Washington Avenue was primarily developed with residential homes. Businesses were concentrated along Water Street near the Saginaw River. As time went on, businesses started to expand along Washington Avenue. In 1891, the Fitzhugh's sold the land to the City of Bay City for $8,500 "to be used for the erection of a City Hall and offices and for no other purposes whatever."