Grosse Ile (Michigan)

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Grosse Ile
Grosse Ile Michigan aerial Jan2016.jpg
Aerial view of Grosse Ile in January 2016
Grosse Ile is located in Michigan
Grosse Ile
Grosse Ile
Location Detroit River
Coordinates 42°07′48″N 83°09′37″W / 42.13000°N 83.16028°W / 42.13000; -83.16028Coordinates: 42°07′48″N 83°09′37″W / 42.13000°N 83.16028°W / 42.13000; -83.16028
Area 9.6 sq mi (25 km2)[1]
State Michigan
County Wayne County
Township Grosse Ile Township
Population 10,894[1] (2000)

Grosse Ile /ˌɡrs ˈl/ is the largest island in the Detroit River and is the most populated island in the state of Michigan. It is on the American side of the river and is part of Wayne County.[2] The island is approximately 9.6 mi² (24.9 km²) and has a population of 10,894.[1] The island is commonly believed to be conterminous with the overall Grosse Ile Township, but in actuality, the township consists of over a dozen islands— many of which are very small and uninhabited. To clarify this confusion, local residents refer to the island of Grosse Ile as the Big Island, Main Island, or simply The Island to distinguish it from the township as a whole. A large number of islands in the Detroit River are closely connected to Grosse Ile.[3][4]

Location of Grosse Ile within the Detroit River

The name comes from the French translation for Large Island. The island was first given to the early French explorers by the Potawatomi in 1776. The Potawatomi referred to the island as Kitcheminishen. Brothers William and Alexander Macomb were the first European owners of the island.[3] The island was first surveyed in 1819 and was incorporated into Monguagon Township in 1829. The island remained sparsely populated as an independent community but did not receive autonomy until the formation of Grosse Ile Township on October 27, 1914.[5] Today, Grosse Ile is often mistakenly referred to as a Downriver community as part of Metro Detroit, although the island has no affiliation with the aforementioned community. The island is bordered on the west by the Trenton Channel and is connected to mainland Michigan by the Wayne County Bridge in the middle of the island and the Grosse Ile Toll Bridge on the northern end. The island itself is divided by two canals. The Thorofare Canal cuts diagonally across the middle of the island.[4] Another unnamed and unnavigable canal cuts through the northern portion of the island. The area north of this canal to the northern point of the island, known as Hennepin Point (after Louis Hennepin), is undeveloped and houses a historic lighthouse.[6] The Grosse Ile Municipal Airport occupies the southernmost area of Grosse Ile. Grosse Ile is also the center of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Area and population figures are based on the 2000 census figures for all of Grosse Ile Township. While the main island of Grosse Ile contains the largest area and population, there are several very small islands within the township, and their area and population are added to this overall figure. The township consists of over a dozen islands, but the majority of them are very small and uninhabited.
  2. ^ Buttle and Tuttle Ltd (2000–2008). "Wayne County islands place names: Grosse Ile". Retrieved December 10, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Karmazin, Nancy (26 Aug 2009). "Welcome to Grosse Ile, Michigan". Retrieved December 13, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b ActiveRain Corp. (2009). "Grosse Ile Michigan - An Island Community Located in the Detroit River". Retrieved December 13, 2009. 
  5. ^ Catlin, George B. (2005). "Local history of Detroit and Wayne County (p. 104)". Retrieved December 12, 2009. 
  6. ^ Loftus, Brian E. (2009). "Grosse Ile North Channel Range Front Light". Retrieved December 13, 2009.