Ann Arbor is a city in the US state of Michigan and the county seat of Washtenaw County. The 2010 census recorded its population to be 113,934, making it the fifth largest city in Michigan. The Ann Arbor Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) includes all of Washtenaw County, which had a population of 344,791 as of 2010. The city is also part of the larger Detroit–Ann Arbor–Flint, MI CSA(Combined Statistical Area).
Ann Arbor was founded in 1824, with one theory stating that it is named after the spouses of the city's founders and for the stands of trees in the area. The University of Michigan moved from Detroit to Ann Arbor in 1837, and the city showed steady growth throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, except during the Depression of 1873. During the 1960s and 1970s, the city gained a reputation as a center for left-wing politics. Ann Arbor became a focal point for political activism and served as a hub for the civil-rights movement and anti-Vietnam War movement, as well as various student movements.
Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, a world-renowned institution of higher education. The university shapes Ann Arbor's economy significantly as it employs about 30,000 workers, including about 12,000 in the medical center. The city's economy is also centered on high technology, with several companies drawn to the area by the university's research and development money, and by its graduates.
Ann Arbor was founded in 1824 by land speculators John Allen and Elisha Rumsey. On May 25, 1824, the town plat was registered with Wayne County as "Annsarbour;" this represents the earliest known use of the town's name. There are various accounts concerning the origin of the settlement's name; one states that Allen and Rumsey decided to name it for their wives, both named Ann, and for the stands of burr oak in the of land they purchased for $800 from the federal government at $1.25 per acre. The local Ojibwa named the settlement kaw-goosh-kaw-nick, after the sound of Allen's sawmill.
Since the university's establishment in the city in 1837, the histories of the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor have been closely linked. The town became a regional transportation hub in 1839 with the arrival of the Michigan Central Railroad, and a north—south railway connecting Ann Arbor to Toledo and other markets to the south was established in 1878. Throughout 1840s and the 1850s settlers continued to come to Ann Arbor. While the earlier settlers were primarily of British ancestry, the newer settlers also consisted of Germans, Irish, and African-Americans. In 1851, Ann Arbor was chartered as a city, though the city showed a drop in population during the Depression of 1873. It was not until the early 1880s that Ann Arbor again saw robust growth, with new immigrants coming from Greece, Italy, Russia, and Poland. Ann Arbor saw increased growth in manufacturing, particularly in milling. Ann Arbor's Jewish community also grew after the turn of the 20th century, and its first and oldest synagogue, Beth Israel Congregation, was established in 1916.
Following a 1956 vote, the city of East Ann Arbor merged with Ann Arbor to encompass the eastern sections of the city.
In the past several decades, Ann Arbor has grappled with the effects of sharply rising land values, gentrification, and urban sprawl stretching into outlying countryside. On November 4, 2003, voters approved a greenbelt plan under which the city government bought development rights on agricultural parcels of land adjacent to Ann Arbor to preserve them from sprawling development. Since then, a vociferous local debate has hinged on how and whether to accommodate and guide development within city limits. Ann Arbor consistently ranks in the "top places to live" lists published by various mainstream media outlets every year. In 2008, it was ranked by CNNMoney.com 27th out of 100 "America's best small cities." And in the year 2010, Forbes listed Ann Arbor as one of the most liveable cities in the United States of America.
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Image Gallery: University of Michigan