Lansing is located in the south-central part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, where the Grand River meets the Red Cedar River.

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The boundaries of the original city were Douglas Avenue to the north, Wood and Regent streets to the east, Mount Hope Avenue to the south, and Jenison Avenue to the west. Lansing began to grow steadily over the next two decades with the completion of the railroads through the city, a plank road, and the completion of the current capitol building in 1878.

Most of what is known as Lansing today is the result of the city becoming an industrial powerhouse which began with the founding of Olds Motor Vehicle Company in August 1897.

Provoked by the growing crowd, Rajje's rampage took her through the men's wear, sporting goods and gift departments of a local Arlan's discount store before leading police on a two-mile chase in which she knocked down and injured a 67-year-old man, tried to move a car, and caused thousands of dollars in damage before being subdued.

Life Magazine quoted Rajje's trainer, William Pratt, as shouting at the scene, "Damn these people [...] They wouldn't leave her alone." Author Nelson Algren cites the injustice and sad end of the pursuit of "Raji, the Pixie-Eared Elephant" in continuity with the ambush of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in his introduction to a 1968 biography of the outlaws.

Many in the group too disappointed to stay ended up settling around what is now metropolitan Lansing.

Those who stayed quickly renamed the area "Lansing Township" in honor of their home village in New York.The Census Bureau, however, for statistical purposes does count these as annexations.Not counting the temporary 425 Agreements, Lansing administers 34.1 square miles (88 km) total.This figure includes two 425 Agreements with Alaiedon Township and Meridian Township, and the four 425 Agreements with Delta Township since 2000.Since the 2010 Census, the city has entered into two additional 425 Agreements. It is mostly in Ingham County, although portions of the city extend west into Eaton County and north into Clinton County.