Michigan is a state which is presently experiencing extreme urban economic downturns. The largest cities in Michigan have yet to recover from the recent “Great Recession.” Ann Arbor however, is an example of a Michigan mid-sized city with a rich history, vibrant economy and self-sustaining, goal-oriented network of residents and business leaders. For this reason, Ann Arbor is continually listed as one of the most desirable cities in the United States to plan a family, chase a career and acquire an education.
According to the 2010 official United States Census, Ann Arbor is the sixth-most populous city in the state of Michigan. It registered just under 114,000 residents with a projected growth rate of 1.9%, putting its unofficial present population near 116,000. Although Ann Arbor is part of the Detroit/Flint/Ann Arbor metro area, the city maintains a distinct atmosphere completely separate from its ultra-urban neighbors.
Ann Arbor was initially started because of land speculation in the Great Lakes region, milling and mining exploration. Once railroads and industrialized methods were introduced to Ann Arbor labor forces, it immediately became a trade hub for all ethnic and religious demographics. Between the turn and mid-points of the Twentieth Century, Ann Arbor experienced population growth registering as high a 53% in a single calendar year. The area’s population was quickly tied to the ups and down of the U.S. commodities and manufacturing base, so its population, while at one time was robust, settled into a moderately dense Midwestern city composition.
The city is much the same in demographic make-up as it has been since the 1900’s through 1920’s. Whites are about 70% of the overall population while blacks register at nearly 1%. 15% of the city is Asian and 1% is Native American. Nearly 12% identify as being multi-racial, which is quite dense for American cities of similar size. For over a century, Ann Arbor has been a manufacturing and technological center and the population has reflected a utilitarian community rather than a modern bazaar.
Presently, the University of Michigan, which is the largest employer in Ann Arbor (over 30,000), has had the most influence on how the city is managed and what type of people live and thrive within its borders. The population is largely liberal-leaning politically and tied to the various occupational and lifestyle unions that call the area home. It can be said that the entirety of Ann Arbor’s population has a respect for the area’s history and interface with the beautiful and diverse natural surroundings. There is a distinct “warding” divisional system with the city limits. The largest district is tied to the University and at least five other centers of higher learning.
Other districts cater to youth, tradesman, white collar society, artists and sportsman. Ann Arbor is much like any other American town of similar demographic make-up. The difference is, it is surrounded by a heavy and unfortunate hardcore city influence. Amazingly, Ann Arbor continues to operate with a small-town American vision. This is due primarily to the focused, well-educated and diverse population’s solidarity when it concerns matters of ordinances, neighborhood construction, services and opportunities for families, students and recreational enthusiasts.
Although ethnic community separation is present through the observation of neighborhood celebrations, holiday and memorial commemorations, each district of Ann Arbor has a similar composition. The only exception is the large portion of the city dedicated to the activity and growth of the University of Michigan. It can be surmised that nearly all households in Ann Arbor are tied in some way with the University. This means each family, no matter the background or ethnicity, works, attends, provides services for, or is otherwise directly involved with the U of M. The U of M is the equalizing factor in bringing a sense of commonness and purpose to all people who call Ann Arbor home!
http://www.annarbor.com (news publication)
http://www.a2gov.org/Pages/default.aspx (official city Website)