Kalamazoo ( /ˌkæləməzuː/) is the largest city in the southwest region of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is the county seat of Kalamazoo County. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 74,262. It is the major city of the Kalamazoo-Portage metropolitan area, which has a population of 326,589 as of 2010.
Kalamazoo is home to Western Michigan University (often abbreviated as "WMU"), a large public university, and Kalamazoo College (often referred to as "K College"), a liberal arts school whose campus abuts WMU's.
Originally known as Bronson, after founder Titus Bronson, in the township of Arcadia, the names were both changed to "Kalamazoo" in 1836 and 1837, respectively. The Kalamazoo name comes from a Potawatomi word, first found in a British report in 1772. However, the Kalamazoo River, which passes through the modern city of Kalamazoo, was located on the route between Détroit and Fort Saint-Joseph (nowadays Niles, Michigan). Canadians (French-speaking), French traders, missionaries, and military personnel were quite familiar with this area during the French era and thereafter. The name for the Kalamazoo River was then known by Canadians and French as La rivière Kikanamaso. The name "Kikanamaso" was also recorded by Father Pierre Potier, a Jesuit missionary for the Huron-Wendats at the Assumption mission (south shore of Détroit), while en route to Fort Saint-Joseph during the fall of 1760.Legend has it that "Ki-ka-ma-sung," meaning "boiling water," referring to a footrace held each fall by local Native Americans, who had to run to the river and back before the pot boiled. Still another theory is that it means "the mirage or reflecting river." Another legend is that the image of "boiling water" referred to fog on the river as seen from the hills above the current downtown. The name was also given to the river that flows almost all the way across the state.