Big Rapids is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 10,601 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Mecosta County. The city is located within Big Rapids Township, but is politically independent. Big Rapids is home of the main campus of Ferris State University, a four-year public university, well known for its College of Pharmacy and the Michigan College of Optometry, as well as its NCAA Division I hockey team, the Bulldogs, as well as their Division II football and basketball team. Big Rapids was settled in 1855 by George French and his brother Zera. It became the seat of Mecosta County in 1859. The village was platted in 1859. It was incorporated as a city in 1869.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.48 square miles (11.60 km2), of which 4.36 square miles (11.29 km2) is land and 0.12 square miles (0.31 km2) is water. Like most of the central Michigan area, it lies on the ancient sea bed and has a sandy subsoil which lies above an iron ore base. The Muskegon River runs through Big Rapids, passing both Ferris State University and the local middle school on its way to Lake Michigan. Numerous small lakes are within a few miles of the city. As of the census of 2000, there were 10,849 people, 3,388 households, and 1,473 families living in the city. The population density was 2,555.5 per square mile (985.6/km2).
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