45 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Ann ArborYou know all of the nicknames, street names and universities… but did you know all of this?
1. A collection of “fairy doors” is scattered throughout Ann Arbor. The first public door appeared in 2005, and since then locals have been leaving gifts like nickels and candies for their fairy friends. 2. The revolutionary Argus camera company was founded in 1936 in Ann Arbor. The camera model Argus C3 can be spotted in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” when Colin Creevey takes a wizard photo of Harry Potter. 3. Grab a napkin to catch your drool for this fact. Picture a deep-fried raisin bagel rolled in cinnamon sugar. What you’re picturing is called the "fragel" and it is an Ann Arbor specialty… a delicious, deep-fried specialty. 4. Oprah loves Zingerman’s sandwiches. In 2008, Oprah had a sandwich challenge in which she gave the brisket sandwich an 11… on a scale of 1 to 5. How’s that for good press? 5. The Cube, properly titled Endover, on the University of Michigan campus has a nearly identical twin in New York. The only difference is the pivot point–A2’s is sunken into the ground while New York City’s is on a separate platform. 6. Being a college town with high job prospects, Ann Arbor is a young city—the median age is 27. 7. Ann Arbor has some of the most lenient laws on marijuana possession in the country. Voted on in 1972, known then as the “Five-Dollar Pot Law,” and again in 2004, the possession of marijuana for personal use has been essentially decriminalized. 8. So decriminalized that since 1972, Ann Arbor has hosted an annual festival by the name of Hash Bash. It’s exactly what you think it is and starts at “high noon” on the first Saturday of April. 9. Before the marijuana law came to be what it is currently, John Sinclair, a local leader of the Rainbow Party, was arrested for possession. John Lennon and Yoko Ono came to Ann Arbor to perform for the John Sinclair Freedom Rally in 1971. Stevie Wonder and Bob Seger also performed at the benefit. 10. Ann Arbor was into being green before it was cool. Back in 1998, the EPA recognized the city as a “Recycling Pioneer,” as it was one of the top 20 waste reduction communities in the United States. 11. Though Detroit may be known as Motor City, in the year of 1929 Ann Arbor proudly held the most cars (and telephones) per capita of anywhere in the world. 12. Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor is the largest stadium in the country (third in the world), with 109,901 seats. Somehow, that still doesn’t seem like enough room for all of the fans milling about the city on a game day. 13. Domino’s Pizza calls Ann Arbor home. Though it began in Ypsilanti, the pizza place has its headquarters, Domino Farms Office Park, in Ann Arbor Township. 14. The tallest building in Ann Arbor, Tower Plaza, is 26 stories. 15. On May 22, 1964 Lyndon B. Johnson revealed his Great Society initiative during his commencement address at the University of Michigan. 16. Speaking of presidential speeches in Ann Arbor, John F. Kennedy delivered a speech at 2 a.m. on the steps of the University of Michigan Union. As part of his presidential campaign, he outlined the plans for what is known today as the Peace Corps. Once elected, he brought the campaign promise to fruition. 17. Presidents aren’t the only ones that have rallied in A2. The first major meetings of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) were held at the University of Michigan in 1960. The SDS, which was associated with the New Left, played a major role in many of the protests of the time and helped shape many student organizations to this day. 18. Ann Arbor was the birthplace of the White Panther Party, a far-left anti-racist political collective. 19. Left wing groups weren’t alone in finding their roots in Ann Arbor. Many conservative movements and groups have as well. The Word of God, a global Christian movement, started in 1967. The Thomas More Law Center, a religious-conservative advocacy group, was founded in 1999. 20. The Ann Arbor Art Center was founded in 1909, making it the third oldest arts organization in Michigan. It’s older than the University of Michigan academic arts curriculum. 21. The late poet Robert Hayden was the first African-American to be appointed as the poet laureate to the Library of Congress. He was appointed in 1975 and served a two-year term. 22. Do you watch the Academy Awards? Well, then, you may find it interesting that the Ann Arbor Film Festival is one of the few Academy Award qualifying festivals in the United States. 23. The Ann Arbor Film Festival actually came to be from another yearly festival, put on by the ONCE group. When the film festival was first held in 1963 it was one of the only events of its kind in the entire country. It gained a fast popularity and attracted the likes of Yoko Ono, George Lucas, and Andy Warhol. 24. The Nickels Arcade is one of a few glass-roofed shopping galleries in the country. It is home to 18 different storefronts, with only two original stores remaining–the Caravan and Van Boven’s. 25. In 1975, Albert H. Wheeler became the first African-American mayor of Ann Arbor. He served from 1975-1978. 26. Since 2004, the Ann Arbor Art Fairs have consistently placed in the top Ten Fairs and Festivals list put out by “AmericanStyle” magazine. Knowing that these fairs typically draw in around 500,000 people (or five times the city’s population), it really isn’t that surprising. 27. There are 18 houses in Ann Arbor that remain from its early days as a village in 1837. Most can be found in Lower Town. The oldest building still standing was erected in 1832. 28. Though many streets surrounding the U of M campus have been named for the boundaries they serve (i.e. South University), State Street has always held its name even though it marks the western boundary of the campus. 29. Ann Arbor was rocking in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Literally. Bob Seger, Iggy Pop, Brownsville Station, and The Rationals all hailed from Tree Town. 30. Having been known for being a bit liberal, it makes sense that the first openly gay candidate to successfully run for office was elected to the Ann Arbor city council. Kathy Kozachenko was elected in 1973. 31. One of the most famous pieces of art in Ann Arbor is a mural on the side of a building located at 300 South State Street. Often referred to as the Bookstore Mural, it was painted by Richard Wolk. TheKnot.com listed it as one of the “Best Places in Ann Arbor for Wedding Photos.” 32. The Michigan Theatre houses a Barton Opus 245 theatre pipe organ, which is one of the few organs to be found in its original location. It is also one of the most heard theatre organs in the country, as it is played before most film screenings. 33. Ann Arbor is educated. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 70.4% of Ann Arbor residents hold a Bachelors Degree or higher. 34. Starting in 1971 with only a small amount of used books, brothers Tom and Louis Borders founded Borders Books, which became an international chain that was based in the city. However, the flagship store closed in 2011. 35. The Google AdWords program, the largest source of revenue for Google, is located in Ann Arbor. 36. Ann Arbor is nicknamed “Tree Town,” stemming from the dense forestation of its residential and park areas. Though, recently the emerald ash borer has destroyed many of the city’s ash trees. 37. Ann Arbor is home to the Gerald Ford Presidential Library, one of only 11 cities to hold the honor of housing a Presidential Library. 38. You can walk through Ann Arbor’s history without visiting a museum. Ann Arbor has a walking tour with a guided podcast and walking map of historical sites throughout the city. 39. Dr. Harriet Hilton was Ann Arbor’s first licensed MD. She graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1872. 40. Ann Arbor has their own twist on Mardi Gras. FestiFools and FoolMoon are two annual events held in April focused on bringing the community together through unique public art—giant papier-mache puppets that are marched through town. FoolMoon is similar in the giant and marching aspects, but with illuminated sculptures instead. 41. The Detroit Observatory was built as a research facility for the University of Michigan in 1854. The oldest observatory of its type in the nation, it also housed the third largest telescope in the world. 42. Located on Hayward Avenue is an earth sculpture by Maya Lin (best known for designing the Vietnam Memorial Wall). This 90 square foot sculpture is made up of a series of fifty grass waves in eight diagonal rows. 43. The Michigan Central Station Depot was thought to be the most beautiful depot of its time and cost $30,000 (this was back in 1886, which was quite a lot at the time). 44. Kingsley Street was originally called North Street because, at the time, it marked the northern city limits. 45. Ann Arbor was originally registered with Wayne County as “Annarbour.” What’s your favorite fun fact about Ann Arbor? Tell us in the comments below!