Lansing is both the capital of the state of Michigan and the largest city in the region. In fact, as of the 2010 Census, Lansing was the fifth largest city in the state, and data indicates that it has continued to grow.
The city's downtown is dominated by state government buildings, especially the State Capitol; but downtown has also experienced recent growth in new restaurants, retail stores and residential developments. Downtown Lansing has a historic city market that is one of the oldest continuously operating farmers' markets in the United States. Upriver and north of downtown is historic Old Town, which includes many architecturally significant buildings dating to the mid-19th century. Directly south of downtown on the other side of I-496 lies REO Town, the historical center of Lansing's automobile industry and the location where Ransom Eli Old built his first factories.
Lansing is generally divided into four sections: Eastside, Westside, Northwestside, and the Southside. Each section contains a diverse array of neighborhoods. The Eastside, located east of the Grand River and north of the Red Cedar River, is the most ethnically diverse side of Lansing, with foreign-born citizens making up more of its population than any other side in the city. The Eastside's commercial districts are located mainly along Michigan Avenue, and to a lesser extent along Kalamazoo Street. It is anchored by Frandor area on the very eastern edge of the eastside.
The Westside, roughly located north, west, and south of the Grand River as it curves through the city, is sometimes regarded the city's most socio-economically diverse section. This side also contains Lansing's downtown area, though this neighborhood is often included as an area all its own. Outside downtown, this side is largely a collection of residential neighborhoods and is served by only one other commercial area along Saginaw Street. However, it also includes a small part of the Old Town Commercial Association.
The Northwestside is generally located north of the Grand River and is physically the smallest side of the city. This part of the city includes moderate-density residential areas and some green areas. This area also includes warehouses and light industrial areas served by a major rail line that runs through Lansing. The most notable landmark of this side is Lansing's Capital Region International Airport.
The Southside, usually described south of the Grand and Red Cedar rivers and the I-496 freeway, is physically the largest and most populous side of the city. The area is largely residential in nature, and is served by numerous commercial strips along Cedar Street, Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, Pennsylvania Avenue, and Waverly Road. The large Edgewood District is located in the southernmost part of the Southside and is sometimes referred to as South Lansing. Though it is the largest area of the city by both physical size and population, it has often been regarded by Southside citizens as Lansing's most overlooked and forgotten area, as most of Lansing's attention in recent decades has been put into the revitalization of the city's historic core.