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
LocationDetroit River
Coordinates42°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
Area9.6 sq mi (25 km2)[1]
Highest elevation594 ft (181.1 m)
CountyWayne County
TownshipGrosse Ile Township
Population10,894[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 the township consists of over a dozen islands— many of which are very small and uninhabited. Local residents refer to 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]

The island was named by French explorers, and Grosse Île means "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, merchants and fur traders from Albany, New York and Detroit, bought the island from the Potawatomi, becoming the first European-American owners.[3]

They had the island surveyed in 1819 and it was incorporated into Monguagon Township in 1829. The island remained sparsely populated and an independent community, but it did not gain autonomy until the formation of Grosse Ile Township on October 27, 1914.[4] In the 21st century, Grosse Ile is considered a Downriver community as part of Metro Detroit.

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 area on the north, known as Hennepin Point, is undeveloped and the site of an historic lighthouse.[5] The Grosse Ile Municipal Airport occupies the southernmost area of the island. Grosse Ile is at 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". Archived from the original on September 6, 2011. Retrieved December 10, 2009.
  3. ^ a b Karmazin, Nancy (26 Aug 2009). "Welcome to Grosse Ile, Michigan". Retrieved December 13, 2009.
  4. ^ Catlin, George B. (2005). "Local history of Detroit and Wayne County (p. 104)". Retrieved December 12, 2009.
  5. ^ Loftus, Brian E. (2009). "Grosse Ile North Channel Range Front Light". Retrieved December 13, 2009.