East Lansing's first houses, known as Faculty Row, were built on the college campus in the 1850s, and thereafter the city's history and growth paralleled that of Michigan State University (MSU).
In those early days the village primarily served the needs of teacher and student. An early village planner was the college's world famous botanist, William James Beal, who, together with mathematician Rolla C. Carpenter, laid out an area just north of campus as a residential tract.
In the new century the rush to expansion boomed, and in 1907 "Collegeville" and adjacent neighborhoods were chartered as East Lansing. Many of the historic homes in the city retain the college Gothic flavor of MSU architecture from the first quarter of the century.
The East Lansing Businessman's Association, many of whose members were faculty at the college, was instrumental in the expansion of the town and business district along one edge of the campus.
The East Lansing School District dates from 1901. Growth of MSU and its faculty resulted in a community with high educational expectations, and East Lansing soon became known for the quality of its public education. As word of the system's excellence spread, the city became increasingly attractive as a place for family life.
East Lansing is now more than eight times larger than at its founding and has a public school system of nine schools. Its population of roughly 50,000 has evolved to include business and professional women and men, families of all configurations and ethnic backgrounds, educators, international residents, politicians, and artists, as well as MSU faculty and students.
The City of East Lansing celebrated its 100th birthday in 2007 and was host to a year-long centennial celebration.