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Encyclopedia > Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is the county seat of Washtenaw County. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 114,024. Ann Arbor Charter Township is adjacent to the city on the north and east sides. Ann Arbor is the home of the main campus of the prestigious University of Michigan. Ann Arbor is often referred to by the nickname "A²" ("A squared"), "Tree Town", or "The People's Republic of Ann Arbor".



According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 71.7 km² (27.7 mi²). 70.0 km² (27.0 mi²) of it is land and 1.7 km² (0.7 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 2.42% water, that water being part of the Huron River.


Residential house near the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor

As of the census2 of 2000, there are 114,024 people, 45,693 households, and 21,704 families residing in the city. The population density is 1,629.9/km² (4,221.1/mi²). There are 47,218 housing units at an average density of 675.0/km² (1,748.0/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 74.68% White, 8.83% Black or African American, 0.29% Native American, 11.90% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.21% from other races, and 3.05% from two or more races. 3.34% of the population are Hispanic American or Latino of any race.

There are 45,693 households out of which 23.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.8% are married couples living together, 7.5% have a female householder with no husband present, and 52.5% are non-families. 35.5% of all households are made up of individuals and 6.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.22 and the average family size is 2.90.

In the city the population is spread out with 16.8% under the age of 18, 26.8% from 18 to 24, 31.2% from 25 to 44, 17.3% from 45 to 64, and 7.9% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 28 years. For every 100 females there are 97.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 96.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $46,299, and the median income for a family is $71,293. Males have a median income of $48,880 versus $36,561 for females. The per capita income for the city is $26,419. 16.6% of the population and 4.6% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 7.3% of those under the age of 18 and 5.1% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


Ann Arbor was founded by settlers from various Eastern states in January 1824. The original founders were John Allen (from Virginia) and Elisha Rumsey (from New York). Their wives' names were both Ann (in the latter case, either Ann Rumsey or Ana Rumsey, depending on what text you consult), and Allen and Rumsey decided to name the settlement "Annarbour," for their spouses (after discarding the alternative names Allensville and Anapolis) and for the stands of burr oak in the 640 acres (2.6 km²) of land they had purchased for $800 from the federal government. The Indians of the region knew the settlement as Kaw-goosh-kaw-nick, after the sound of Allen's grist mill. Rumsey died in 1827; Allen eventually became the town's postmaster, newspaper publisher, village president, and all-around promoter.

Several mills, a tannery, and a general store flourished in the settlement. The general store (or tavern, depending on which source you accept) was painted bright red and the corner on which it was established (Huron and Main) became known as Bloody Corners. In 1836, Ann Arbor lost a bid to be established as the state capital.

However, in 1837, Ann Arbor won a bid to be the new site for the University of Michigan when it offered forty acres (160,000 m²) of land free for the site. The Michigan Central Railroad arrived in 1839, making the town a major regional transportation hub.

Ann Arbor became the seat of Washtenaw County in 1827, was incorporated in 1833, and was chartered in 1851, which was also the year that John Allen died. The town became home first to large numbers of German immigrants (particularly from the state of Württemberg) and escapees from the Canadians accounted for the largest percentage of immigrants to the town during most of the 1800s.

During World War I, Germans became targets of animosity because of their alleged sympathy for the German state, and four professors in the University's German department were dismissed because of what were alleged by the regents to be an "excess" of faculty in the department. During World War II, Ford Motor Company's nearby Willow Run plant turned out B_24 Liberator bombers and the population of Ann Arbor exploded with an influx of miltary personnel, war workers, and their families.

In 1960, Ann Arbor was the site of major speeches by both major presidential candidates, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Kennedy outlined his proposal for what would become the Peace Corps on the front steps of the Michigan Union on October 14, 1960. On May 22, 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson unveiled his Great Society initiative during a University of Michigan commencement address.

During the 1960s, Ann Arbor became a locus for both the American civil rights movement and the anti_Vietnam War movement. It was the site of the first major meetings of Students for a Democratic Society in 1960. After a number of protests and an extensive public campaign, the city passed its first fair housing ordinance in 1963.

In June 1969, students and protesters took over portions of South University Avenue over the course of three days of protests and rioting. However, the police, drawn from many surrounding communities, and many with their names and badges covered up, took back the streets with the use of tear gas, police dogs and the threat of firearms. Between 1972 and 1976, the city council went through a period in which members of the Human Rights Party got elected and fought for several measures that at the time seemed radical, including an ordinance reducing penalties for possession of marijuana and a rent control ordinance. In 1973, Kathy Kozachenko was elected to the Ann Arbor city council and became the first openly gay candidate to run successfully for elected office in the United States.

The economy of Ann Arbor underwent a gradual shift from manufacturing base to a service and technology base over the course of the 20th century, a shift which accelerated in the 1970s and 1980s. As of 1999, Ann Arbor was home to 25 research centers and libraries.

Marking the most recent American elections, on 2 November 2004, Ann Arbor has reasserted itself as a bastion for left-leaning sentiment in the state of Michigan, and indeed the country: A proposition to legalize medical marijuana had been passed by a margin approaching 75 to 25%.

Colleges and universities

Ann Arbor Public School District

The Ann Arbor Public School District consists of 21 elementary schools, five middle schools, and three high schools (two traditional, one alternative). Due to overcrowding problems within the two main high schools, a third major high school is planned. There are currently 16,724 students enrolled in AAPS schools, including the elementary, middle, high, and alternative schools. The District's superintendent is Dr. George Fornero. Students in the district partake in the Michigan Educational Assessment Program, as well other standardized tests.

  • Ann Arbor Public Schools website (http://www.aaps.k12.mi.us/)

Economy and industry


  • Blues and Jazz Festival: Usually held sometime in mid-September at Gallup Park it showcases some of the best blues and jazz musicians from around the nation.
  • Art Fairs: Held in the 3rd week of July from Wednesday to Saturday. There are actually five separate juried fairs and many other artists and retail booths anywhere they can rent some space.
  • Hash Bash: First Saturday of April. These days the event is a collection of speeches, street vending, civil disobedience centered around the goal of reform of local, state, and federal marijuana laws. The first Hash Bash was held in 1971 to protest the 10-year prison sentence given to John Sinclair in 1970 for possession of two marijuana joints.
  • Summer Festival (http://www.annarborsummerfestival.org): A three-and-a-half week event typically held from mid-June through early July at the Power Center and atop the adjacent parking structure (host to the free "Top of the Park" events). Each night offers internationally-known entertainers inside the Power Center, Mendelssohn Theatre or Hill Auditorium, while Top of the Park showcases local, regional, and occasionally national talent starting at 7pm nightly, and movies at 10pm Sunday through Thursday. A variety of local food vendors offer limited menus while the non-profit festival organization offers soft drinks, beer and wine for sale to support the costs of offering free admission.
  • Naked Mile: There has been a tradition of students running naked through the streets once a year at the end of the University of Michigan winter semester, but the police and the university are cracking down on it [2] (http://www.goodspeedupdate.com/naked-mile-data-4-10-03.html). As a result participants have been forced to adapt, but they did not discontinue the event completely: in 2002 they have been wearing underwear. In 2003 there were only five to seven runners and all were arrested. In 2004, the event was held a day earlier with alternative route and thereby, dodging arrests. There were 13 naked runners and one naked bicyclist. They were angry about what they consider draconian suppression of the Naked Mile.
  • Ann Arbor Folk Festival (http://www.theark.org/ann_arbor_folk_festival.html): Many of the world's best folk musicians have played at the Folk Festival, an annual benefit concert for the Ark (Ann Arbor's folk and acoustic music venue). It is held late in January.
  • Shopping Cart Race: Held sometime late August, the race is not "official". Information is spread by word of mouth and stencil art. Participants have brought everything from decorated shopping carts to two-man bicycles that incorporate shopping cart elements into the design.
  • 16mm Film Festival (http://www.aafilmfest.org/): The oldest continually operated annual 16mm film festival in North America, this event attracts entries from moving image artists worldwide and screens more than 100 films before audiences at the Michigan Theatre during six days in March.
  • Taste Of Ann Arbor: A one day event held during the first week of June in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor. Local restaurants open concession stands to the public. Local bands, schools, and performers hold free shows and concerts. The event is sponsered by the Downtown Development Authority, Ann Arbor Jaycees, WEMU 89.1, and the Michigan theater.

Ann Arbor in literature

Ann Arbor (or its surrounding region) is the setting (or the presumed setting) for a number of novels and short story collections, including:

  • Justin McCarthy, Dear Lady Disdain (1875)
  • Karl Edwin Harriman, Ann Arbor Tales (1902)
  • Lloyd Cassel Douglas, Magnificent Obsession (1929)
  • David Osborn, Open Season (1974)
  • Nancy Willard, Things Invisible to See (1985)
  • Susan Holtzer, Bleeding Maize and Blue (1997)
  • Charles Baxter, Feast of Love (2000)

Sister cities

The city of Tübingen in Germany is Ann Arbor's sister city. Other sister cities have included Hikone, Japan; Belize City, Belize; Peterborough, Ontario and Juigalpa, Nicaragua.

External links

  • City's official website (http://www.ci.ann-arbor.mi.us/)
  • The Huron Valley Community Network (http://hvcn.org/)
  • Read the story (http://www.unixpapa.com/conf/history.html) of Computer Conferencing in Ann Arbor including information about M-Net (http://arbornet.org/m-net/) and Grex (http://cyberspace.org/).
  • The popular community site Everything2 (http://www.everything2.com) is hosted at the University of Michigan.
  • An irreverent guide to Ann Arbor goings on is the weblog Ann Arbor Is Overrated (http://www.annarborisoverrated.com).


  • Andrews, Clarence. (1992). Michigan in Literature. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.
  • Encyclopedia of Michigan. (1999). St. Clair Shores, MI: Somerset Publishers.
  • Marwil, Jonathan. (1990). A History of Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Michigan Gazetteer. (1991). Wilmington, DE: American Historical Publications.
  • Schmittroth, Linda (Ed.). (1994). Cities of the United States (4th ed.). Detroit: Gale Group.

Regions of Michigan
Copper Country | Keweenaw Peninsula | Upper Peninsula | Lower Peninsula | Metro Detroit | The Thumb | Western Michigan
Largest Cities
Ann Arbor | Canton | Clinton | Dearborn | Detroit | Flint | Grand Rapids | Kalamazoo | Lansing | Livonia | Pontiac | Rochester Hills | Shelby | Southfield | Sterling Heights | Taylor | Troy | Warren | West Bloomfield | Westland
Alcona | Alger | Allegan | Alpena | Antrim | Arenac | Baraga | Barry | Bay | Benzie | Berrien | Branch | Calhoun | Cass | Charlevoix | Cheboygan | Chippewa | Clare | Clinton | Crawford | Delta | Dickinson | Eaton | Emmet | Genesee | Gladwin | Gogebic | Grand Traverse | Gratiot | Hillsdale | Houghton | Huron | Ingham | Ionia | Iosco | Iron | Isabella | Jackson | Kalamazoo | Kalkaska | Kent | Keweenaw | Lake | Lapeer | Leelanau | Lenawee | Livingston | Luce | Mackinac | Macomb | Manistee | Marquette | Mason | Mecosta | Menominee | Midland | Missaukee | Monroe | Montcalm | Montmorency | Muskegon | Newaygo | Oakland | Oceana | Ogemaw | Ontonagon | Osceola | Oscoda | Otsego | Ottawa | Presque Isle | Roscommon | Saginaw | Sanilac | Schoolcraft | Schiawassee | St. Clair | St. Joseph | Tuscola | Van Buren | Washtenaw | Wayne | Wexford

  Results from FactBites:
Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce (597 words)
The Ann Arbor Area Chamber, located in Ann Arbor, MI, is the largest business advocacy organization in Washtenaw County with more than 1,400 members, 14 staff, 13 committees and task forces and more than 200 volunteers.
The mission of the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce is to support our members by promoting commerce in the greater Ann Arbor area through business advocacy and leadership in economic, political and educational development.
The Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce is an excellent resource for business, relocation and visitor information and can assist residents in finding jobs in the Ann Arbor area and gaining information on local businesses.
Ann Arbor, Michigan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (4973 words)
Ann Arbor is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Washtenaw County.
Ann Arbor later became the seat of Washtenaw County in 1827, and was incorporated as a village in 1833.
Domino's Pizza's headquarters are in Ann Arbor on Domino's Farms, a 271-acre (109 hectare) Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired complex in the northeastern portion of the city.
  More results at FactBites »



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