Ypsilanti, Michigan

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Ypsilanti, Michigan
City of Ypsilanti
Ypsi, The Free Zone
"Pride. Diversity. Heritage."
Ypsilanti, MI location.png
Location within Washtenaw County
USA Michigan location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within the State of Michigan
Coordinates: 42°14′34″N83°37′06″W / 42.24278°N 83.61833°W / 42.24278; -83.61833 Coordinates: 42°14′34″N83°37′06″W / 42.24278°N 83.61833°W / 42.24278; -83.61833
Country United States
State Michigan
County Washtenaw
Incorporated1832 (village)
1858 (city)
  Type Council–manager
   Mayor Lois Richardson
   Mayor pro-tem Nicole Brown
  Total4.40 sq mi (11.39 km2)
  Land4.23 sq mi (10.95 km2)
  Water0.17 sq mi (0.44 km2)
719 ft (219 m)
 (2020) [2]
  Density4,881.32/sq mi (1,885.66/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
  Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)
48197, 48198
Area code(s) 734
FIPS code 26-89140 [3]
GNIS feature ID1616910 [4]
Website Official website

Ypsilanti ( /ˌɪpsɪˈlænti/ [5] commonly shortened to Ypsi, is a city in Washtenaw County in the U.S. state of Michigan, perhaps best known as the home of Eastern Michigan University. As of the 2020 census, the city's population was 20,648. The city is bounded to the north by Superior Township and on the west, south, and east by Ypsilanti Township.



Early history

Originally a trading post established in 1809 by a French-Canadian fur trader from Montreal, a permanent settlement was established on the east side of the Huron River in 1823 by Major Thomas Woodruff. It was incorporated into the Territory of Michigan as the village Woodruff's Grove. A separate community a short distance away on the west side of the river was established in 1825 under the name "Ypsilanti", after Demetrios Ypsilantis, a hero in the Greek War of Independence. [6] Woodruff's Grove changed its name to Ypsilanti in 1829, the year its namesake effectively won the war for Greek Independence at the Battle of Petra, with the two communities eventually merging. A bust of Demetrios Ypsilantis by Greek sculptor Christopher Nastos [7] stands between a Greek and a US flag at the base of the landmark Ypsilanti Water Tower.

Automotive history

Ypsilanti has played an important role in the automobile industry. From 1920 to 1922, Apex Motors produced the "ACE" car. It was in Ypsilanti that Preston Tucker (whose family owned the Ypsilanti Machine Tool Company) designed and built the prototypes for his Tucker '48. Tucker's story was related in the film Tucker: The Man and His Dream , directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

In 1945, Henry J. Kaiser and Joseph W. Frazer bought the nearby Willow Run B-24 Liberator bomber plant from Ford Motor Company, and started to make Kaiser and Frazer model cars in 1947. The last Kaiser car made in Ypsilanti rolled off the assembly line in 1953, when the company merged with Willys-Overland and moved production to Toledo, Ohio. General Motors purchased the Kaiser Frazer plant, and converted it into its Hydramatic Division (now called its Powertrain division), beginning production in November 1953. The GM Powertrain Division ceased production at this facility in 2010.

Ypsilanti is also the location of the last Hudson automobile dealership. Today, the former dealership is the site of the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Collection. The museum is the home to an original Fabulous Hudson Hornet race car, which inspired the character Doc Hudson in the 2006 Pixar animated film Cars .

Political history

Statue of Harriet Tubman Statue of Harriet Tubman Ypsilanti Michigan.JPG
Statue of Harriet Tubman

In the early 1970s, along with neighboring city Ann Arbor, the citizens reduced the penalty for the use and sale of marijuana to $5 [8] (the Ypsilanti Marijuana Initiative; see also the Human Rights Party). When Ypsilanti prosecuted a man possessing 100 pounds (45 kg) of cannabis under state law, the defense argued he should have been charged under Ypsilanti's ordinance. The trial judge declared the ordinance's requirement that Ypsilanti prosecute only under city law unenforceable. An appeal court upheld the trial judge's ruling. Later, Ypsilanti City Council, using its power of codification, deleted the ordinance.[ citation needed ]

In 1979, Faz Husain was elected to the Ypsilanti city council, the first Muslim and the first native of India to win elected office in Michigan.

In the 1990s Ypsilanti became the first city in Michigan to pass a living wage ordinance. [9]

On July 23, 2007, Governor Jennifer Granholm announced that Ypsilanti, along with the cities of Caro and Clio, was chosen by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to take part in the Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns program. The award provides for an economic development consultant to assist Ypsilanti in developing a growth and job creation strategy for the downtown area. [10]

On June 23, 2020, Mayor Beth Bashert resigned after controversial comments she made about race during a Zoom meeting. [11]



According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.52 square miles (11.71 km2), of which 4.33 square miles (11.21 km2) is land and 0.19 square miles (0.49 km2) is water. [14] The Huron River flows through Ypsilanti with Ford Lake on the southern edge of the city. Paint Creek also runs through the city.

Ypsilanti is located at 42°14′N83°37′W / 42.24°N 83.62°W / 42.24; -83.62 , in the eastern reaches of the Greater Ann Arbor area. Suburban development between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, via Washtenaw Avenue and Packard Road, has been unbroken since the late 1960s. Downtown Ypsilanti and the surrounding neighborhoods are the site of many historical homes, including kit homes by companies like Aladdin and Sears.


Historical population
1860 3,955
1870 5,47138.3%
1880 4,984−8.9%
1890 6,12923.0%
1900 7,37820.4%
1910 6,230−15.6%
1920 7,41319.0%
1930 10,14336.8%
1940 12,12119.5%
1950 18,30251.0%
1960 20,95714.5%
1970 29,53840.9%
1980 24,031−18.6%
1990 24,8183.3%
2000 22,362−9.9%
2010 19,435−13.1%
2020 20,6486.2%
Sources: United States Census [15] (1900–2000)
U.S. Census Bureau [16] (2009)

2010 census

As of the census [17] of 2010, there were 19,435 people, 8,026 households, and 2,880 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,488.5 inhabitants per square mile (1,733.0/km2). There were 9,271 housing units at an average density of 2,141.1 per square mile (826.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 61.5% White, 29.2% African American, 0.6% Native American, 3.4% Asian, 1.1% from other races, and 4.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.9% of the population.

There were 8,026 households, of which 18.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 19.7% were married couples living together, 12.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 64.1% were non-families. 42.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.06 and the average family size was 2.92.

The median age in the city was 25 years. 14.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 35.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.3% were from 25 to 44; 16.6% were from 45 to 64; and 8.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.7% male and 50.3% female.

2000 census

As of the census [3] of 2000, there were 22,362 people, 8,551 households, and 3,377 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,081.5 per square mile (1,962.3/km2). There were 9,215 housing units at an average density of 2,094.0 per square mile (808.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 61.40% White, 30.58% African American, 0.44% Native American, 3.18% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 1.32% from other races, and 3.01% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.47% of the population. 13.6% were of German, 6.8% Irish, 6.4% English and 5.5% Polish ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 8,551 households, out of which 19.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 23.0% were married couples living together, 13.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 60.5% were non-families. 40.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.15 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the city the population was spread out, with 15.9% under the age of 18, 38.2% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 12.4% from 45 to 64, and 7.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 24 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,610, and the median income for a family was $40,793. Males had a median income of $30,328 versus $26,745 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,692. About 16.9% of families and 25.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.1% of those under age 18 and 15.3% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Domino's Pizza was founded in Ypsilanti in 1960 near the campus of Eastern Michigan University.

By 1963, Clara Owens established the Ypsilanti Greek Theater in Ypsilanti, Michigan for the performance of Greek theater productions.

In 1966 the Ypsilanti Greek Theater opened at the EMU Baseball field. Bert Lahr and Dame Judith Anderson starred in two productions, The Oresteia, a trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Aeschylus and The Birds by playwright Aristophanes.

Since 1979, the city has become known for summer festivals in the part of the city called "Depot Town", which is adjacent to both Riverside and Frog Island Parks along the banks of the Huron River. Festivals include the annual Ypsilanti Heritage Festival, Michigan ElvisFest, the Orphan Car Festival, the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival, the former Frog Island Festival, and a Latino festival.

Painter Fay Kleinman moved to Ypsilanti in the late 1980s with her husband, pianist Emanuel Levenson.

Overlooking Riverside Park is the non-profit Riverside Arts Center. Established in 1994 through the efforts of the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority and several public spirited citizens, the Riverside boasts a 115-seat black box theater, a sizable art gallery and some meeting rooms and offices. In 2006 the adjacent DTE building was renovated with "Cool Cities Initiative" money and is in the process of being incorporated into the center's activities.

Since 2013, Ypsilanti has participated in First Fridays, an arts and culture-based monthly event that features a self-guided tour of participating businesses highlighting local artists, and often free samples of food and drink. [18] The same organization that coordinates the Ypsilanti First Friday event series coordinates Ypsi Pride, established in 2017, and the Festival of the Honey Bee. Ypsi Pride takes place on the first Friday in June and seeks to celebrate LGBTQ+ culture across the community by hosting a variety of family friendly programming, entertainment, and educational content. [19]

Sites of interest

The new addition to the historic building which houses the Michigan Firehouse Museum was completed in the summer of 2002. Michigan Firehouse Museum PICT0035.jpg
The new addition to the historic building which houses the Michigan Firehouse Museum was completed in the summer of 2002.

Ypsilanti has the second largest contiguous historic district in the state of Michigan, [20] behind only the much larger city of Grand Rapids. The Ypsilanti Historic District includes both downtown Ypsilanti, along Michigan Avenue, and the Depot Town area adjacent to Frog Island Park and Riverside Park, which features many specialty shops, bars and grills, and a farmers' market.

The Tridge is a three-way wooden footbridge under the Cross Street bridge over the Huron River at 42°14′44″N83°36′42″W / 42.24561°N 83.61160°W / 42.24561; -83.61160 . The Tridge connects Riverside Park, Frog Island Park, and Depot Town. [21] [22]

The Ypsilanti Water Tower, adjacent to the campus of Eastern Michigan University, holds the unique distinction of being the winner of the Most Phallic Building contest.

Starkweather Chapel, in Richardsonian Romanesque architectonic style, in Highland Cemetery Starkweather Chapel.jpg
Starkweather Chapel, in Richardsonian Romanesque architectonic style, in Highland Cemetery

Other sites of interest include:

Parks and recreation

There are many parks within the city limits of Ypsilanti, [23] [24] [25] including:


K–12 education

Ypsilanti Community Schools serve residents of the city, as well as parts of Ypsilanti Township and Superior Township. Ypsilanti Public Schools and Willow Run Community Schools merged to form a new, united district on July 1, 2013. Charter schools in the city include Arbor Preparatory High School.

It also was the setting of a well known and long running High/Scope Perry Preschool Study regarding the effects of early childhood education in children. The study researched the effects of preschool on the later lives of low income children from the area. [30]

Global Educational Excellence operates the Global Tech Academy (PreK-5) in nearby Ypsilanti Township. [31] [32]

Higher education

A college town, Ypsilanti is home to Eastern Michigan University, founded in 1849 as Michigan State Normal School. Today, Eastern Michigan University has 17,500+ undergraduate and more than 4,800 graduate students. [33] As well, Ypsilanti is home to Washtenaw Community College (WCC) sponsored off-site extension center.

University Park on EMU campus


Ypsilanti is served by daily newspapers from Detroit. Ypsilanti once had its own daily newspaper, the Ypsilanti Press, but that paper closed June 28, 1994, after 90 years in business. [34] Upon closing, the Press sold its masthead, archives and subscriber list to The Ann Arbor News , which then began publishing an Ypsilanti edition. The Ann Arbor News ceased publication on July 23, 2009; it was replaced by a new Internet-based news operation, AnnArbor.com, which also produces print editions on Thursdays and Sundays. A weekly newspaper, the Ypsilanti Courier , is published every Thursday by Heritage Media from their Saline, MI offices. The only newspaper currently operating in Ypsilanti is Eastern Michigan University's independent newspaper The Eastern Echo.

Local radio stations include:



Street map of Ypsilanti Ypsi streets.jpg
Street map of Ypsilanti


  • I-94.svg I-94 bypasses the city to the south.
  • US 12.svg US 12 travels east to Detroit and west toward Chicago; it runs concurrently with I-94 from exit 181 to the west of the city to exit 185 to the east of the city.
  • US 23.svg US 23 passes just west of the city.
  • Business plate.svg
    US 12.svg
    Bus. US 12 is a loop route through downtown Ypsilanti.
  • M-17.svg M-17 connects Ypsilanti with nearby Ann Arbor.


Notable people

Linguist List

Ypsilanti was also the home to the main editing site of the Linguist List, a major online resource for the field of linguistics. It was mostly staffed by graduate students who attend Eastern Michigan University and runs several database websites and mailing lists. [64]


Ypsilanti is often shortened to "Ypsi," particularly in spoken conversation and local/regional usage.

Because a large number of residents or their ancestors migrated from Appalachia, certain neighborhoods (particularly on the far east side of the city and into Ypsilanti Township) are sometimes called "Ypsitucky." Harriette Arnow's book The Dollmaker , which was made into a film starring Jane Fonda, focused on the lives of these "Ypsituckians."

Recently, the use of the term "Ypsitucky" has come under increased scrutiny due to its historically derogatory connotation. In 2008, the issue was raised after a dinner being held in Ann Arbor to honor Harriette Arnow was described as an "Ypsitucky Supper" in some of the event organizer's media releases. [65] [66] In 2009, planning began for the "Ypsitucky Jamboree," a new music festival celebrating bluegrass music to be held in Ypsilanti in September 2009; this resulted in objections from some area residents and some members of the City Council, leading to renaming the event as simply "The Jamboree." [67] [68] [69]

Sister cities

See also

Related Research Articles

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Further reading