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Around Midtown Ann Arbor, MI


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Well, it has been long overdue. Here is a beginning of the Ann Arbor series which will take you around one of Michigan's most interesting college towns. I simply cannot cover Ann Arbor in just a few threads. There are so many interesting areas of the city, that I will try to cover them in additional threads. This current thread, will be just a glimpse of what is about to come. Upcoming photo tours will be sorted into districts of the city. Today's tour, is just a random walkabout. Primarily in the Midtown District, and part of the Hill Area. Future tours of Ann Arbor's Downtown, South U. District, Midtown, Kerrytown, Central Campus, Stadium District, Packard District, Medical Ctr, and North Campus, and Old Ann Arbor (Rivertown) will come later with small added bonuses such as "Industry in Ann Arbor", and "Saturday Traditions" photo tours will come later as well. It sounds like a lot, but I assure you, it will be interesting. I'm not trying to brag or anything, but I feel Ann Arbor is perhaps one of Michigan's best cities. The city is growing steadily within restrictive city limits, giving it the density unseen in most urban centers throughout Michigan, yet it has managed to maintain much of its historic architecture, and small town atmosphere. In fact, this is a problem that has been causing debate in recent years. Although, tall buildings are nothing new in Ann Arbor, the city does not want its streets to have a canyon of buildings on each side. With the Huron valley forming a geographic barrier for growth, the city is becoming increasingly crowded. The city's infrastructure is overwhelmed, mass transit is overcrowded, and available parking has become a serious inssue in recent years. However, many of these problems have helped contain sprawl and allowed the city to build up a strong urban center. The city IS THE MOST pedestrian friendly city in Michigan. Take a walk through Ann Arbor on any day, and you will find the streets teeming with students, residents, and tourists. This city provides the best view at what Michigan's cities looked like back then, and what they SHOULD look like today.

Before you move on to the photos, I would like to make one thing clear. Ann Arbor is NOT a suburb of Detroit. It merely falls within the Metro area of Detroit from the exploding growth in the past decade. I'm tired of the few people who blame Ann Arbor for taking away from Detroit's population. My history professors cannot stress enough that this is not the case. Ann Arbor and Detroit have completely different lifestyles relating to economy and culture. It just disgusts me that people would say Ann Arbor is just another suburb of Detroit. We are not. Ann Arbor grew on its own before Detroit even hit a population of more than 10,000 poeple two centuries ago. Anyways, enought talk.

For now, enjoy this morning walkabout where I took pictures of campus between two of my classes.


This is the front of the recently renovated Haven Hall. Haven Hall is actually connected with several other campus buildings that have seen renovations as well. These building face a large open greenspace called "The Diag"


Another shot of Haven Hall's new facade. The old 1960's facade was ugly as hell. It was completely stripped down to the steel beams.


Students move about this crowded connector hallway that links Mason and Haven Halls to Angell Hall.


Over on State St. is Old University Hall. Today it is an Archeological Museum


Part of Ann Arbor's underappreciated skyline. Although these stuctures are quite defining, the city has begun to limit the height of new structures for fear it would take away from Ann Arbor's small town atmoshpere. In my opinion, let the developers build as high as they want. Small town Ann Arbor left about a hundred years ago. The tall building to the right is called "The Plaza Apartments"


The Maynard St. entrance to the Betsy Barbour Residence.


The little noticed student publications offices on Maynard.


The exterior of the Hellen Newberry Residence is under restoration.


Businesses on William St. The red two story building is Cottage Inn Pizza. I'm guessing it is the original Cottage Inn because it has been there for a long time, and most other locations are take out. Personally, I don't find the take out locations spectacular. However, the pizza at this location is very good.


Nickels Arcade and some new building to the right. I'm glad they made it deep and gave it some height. It really adds to the density. The Maynard Street ramp to the left was built to not interfere with the city below. It occupies dead space behind the historic buildings. Just where parking ramps should be!


Bikes galore. This bike shop occupies a space at the base of the Plaza Tower.


Inside Nickels arcade. Suprisingly alot of the stores weren't open yet.


Looking down North University St. towards the clock tower and Arthur Hill Auditorium. U of M is one of the few campuses with two clock towers. The other tower being on North Campus. On the corner is Michigan Book and Supply.


Stores and restaurants on State Street


The front of the arcade.


More State Street shops


and more. The red building on the corner is a brand new apartment building with ground level retail. The former structure there was a small suburban styled abandoned restaurant with a large surface parking lot. Something Ann Arbor definitely did not need. This ugly abandoned building suffered many years of deserved abuse and was plastered with flyers of campus events and advertisements. Good riddance. Now sits the above midrise which occupies the entire lot.


The State Theatre. The original theatre in there is no longer used. The balcony space was converted into two modern movie theatres. The lower floor is occupied by urban outfitters, who has maintained the original stage and integrated it into their store layout. Even the harshest critics of theater conversions would agree that the use of the space is amazing.


Could it be! Pedestrians and outdoor seating! Just a common site in A2


Starbucks Coffee. Aparently the building has some history to it, as there is a marker on the front of the building.


The Official Borders Bookstore. It is Ann Arbor's only downtown Borders, for the company which is Ann Arbor based as well. Therefore, despite the photo's washed out quality, it deserved a place in this tour.


I decided to go to the top of the Maynard Street Ramp and get a few shots of the city. Shown here is the Liberty and State Street area.


Looking up North University St. This was the Northen Boundary of the University nearly 150 years ago. Today, the northern boundary is well over a mile away.


A bunch of rental homes over near S. Division Street. This area was formerly home to German settlers.


Looking towards a portion of the Downtown. The brick building with the red tile is SBC.


This is one of my favorite apartment/condo buildings.


Background: Campus Inn Foreground: First United Methodist Church


The beautiful stained glass windows on the side of the church.


The side of the Freize Building, home to (so I have heard) the 3rd most recognized film school in the country. It also houses the Asian studies department. Unfortunately, it is one of the university's most forgotten buildings. It was formerly Pioneer High School, before they later relocated out near the stadiums. It was converted by the university and has seen NO renovations or upgrades. A few repairs and renovations of the film library were made by a private film company out in California. The building has an uncertain future. There is talk of tearing it down, and building a new, more efficent structure on the site. However, the new design of the building would be tangled in various restrictions and codes ensuring it would blend with the surrounding buildings. Currently, the best case would be to entirely gut and rebuild the inside. Until then, the inside will continue to fall apart.


A small, but thriving hotel. You don't see many hotels like this anymore!


The newly restored Hill Auditorium.


Shops along North U.


Students lounging in the Diag.


The beautiful exterior of the Natural Science Building.


The massive columns tower above students as they enter Angell Hall. The building was formerly designed to also attract the State Capitol to Ann Arbor. Today, as a University building, it can barely hold the advisors and instructor's offices for the school of Literature, Science, and the Arts.


The front of Angell.


The Museum of Modern Art. Formerly Alumni Hall.


U of M's Main Union on Central Campus.


Students walk toward the Diag. The buildings shown are left: Angell Hall, center: Tisch Hall, Right: Haven Hall.


Taking this picture of the boat got me an invitation to join the Crew Team. Although it would be an awesome sport to get involved in, not even my daily workouts in the rec. building's weightroom could prepare me for the intense workout you get. The Men's Crew team practices on the Huron River.


A washed out picture picture of the Grad. Library. All of Michigan's libraries now hold almost 7.5 million volumes!


The nearing end of construction on the Palmer Complex. This plaza is actually elevated two stories above ground level. Beneath it is more classrooms and a 4 story underground parking structure. Just how parking should be.


Part of the Hill District and Palmer Field. The building to the left is Couzens Hall. Where I live! :D


Mosher Jordan (MoJo) and Stockwell Halls. The new tennis courts are coming along well.


And our closing shot is of the new elevated walkway along the Palmer Commons.

Just to help you understand the general area you are looking at, I found this old, but nice aerial of Midtown Ann Arbor. It also shows the South University District and Hill Area.


I hope you enjoyed! That is it for now.

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The D has a lot of issues though. I don't know....

Anyway, I have heard that city leaders want to allow more highrise development in the city over the next 20 years. My guess would be that there won't be anything too tall though...maybe 15-20 stories. I'll have to see if I can find the link to the article.

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