History of Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor, the county seat of Washtenaw County, is located on the Huron River, 35 miles west of Detroit. It has manufacturing firms and serves a surrounding agricultural area, but its primary claim to fame is the University of Michigan, which established its main campus here in 1837.

Ann Arbor was settled in 1823 by two couples, John and Ann Allen from Virginia, and Elisha and Ann Rumsey from New York. The town derives its name from the common first name of the two wives. In 1824, it became the county seat. It was incorporated as a village in 1833 and chartered as a city in 1851.

The Michigan Central Railroad reached Ann Arbor in 1839. During World War II, the Ford plant at Willow Run produced thousands of B-24 Liberator bombers. The population of Ann Arbor swelled with the military personnel and civilian defense workers.

During the 1960's, Ann Arbor was one of the centers of student unrest and left wing politics. Three members of the Human Rights Party won seats on the city council during the 1970's and successfully instituted progressive municipal policies. At the other end of the spectrum, the Thomas More Law Center, established in 1999, is an advocacy group for religious conservatism.

The Kempf House Museum, built in 1853, is an excellent example of the Greek Revival style of house architecture. On the university campus are several museums, including the Museum of Art, the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, and the Museum of Zoology. The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is a science museum for children of all ages. The Presidential library of Gerald R. Ford is in Ann Arbor as well. Also in Ann Arbor is the Thomas More Law Center.

The University of Michigan Health System is an outgrowth of the first University of Michigan Medical School, established in 1850. It also operates the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. In the early 1900's, St. Joseph Sanitarium opened with 17 beds. It was renamed St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in the early 1920's.