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Escanaba, Michigan
Escanaba City Hall and Library
Escanaba City Hall and Library
Nickname(s): 
Esky
Location within Delta County
Location within Delta County
Country United States
State Michigan
County Delta
Incorporated 1866 (village)
1883 (city)
Government
 • Type Council–manager
Area
 • Total 16.37 sq mi (42.39 km2)
 • Land 12.74 sq mi (33.01 km2)
 • Water 3.62 sq mi (9.38 km2)
Elevation
607 ft (185 m)
Population
 (2010)
 • Total 12,616
 • Estimate 
(2019)
12,160
 • Density 954.10/sq mi (368.38/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
49829, 49894
Area code(s) 906
FIPS code 26-26360
GNIS feature ID 1619865

Escanaba ( ES-kə-NAH-bə), commonly shortened to Esky, is a port city in Delta County in the U.S. state of Michigan, located on Little Bay de Noc in the state's Upper Peninsula. The population was 12,616 at the 2010 census, making it the third-largest city in the Upper Peninsula after Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie. It is the seat of government of Delta County.

There is also Escanaba Township, which is north of the city and is not adjacent to it, although a portion of the urban area around the city extends into the township. Both are named for the Escanaba River, which flows into the Little Bay de Noc of Lake Michigan just north of the city at 45°46′37″N 87°03′30″W / 45.77694°N 87.05833°W / 45.77694; -87.05833. The names are derived from the Ojibwa language.

History

The word "Escanaba" roughly translates from various regional native languages to "land of the red buck" although some people maintain that it refers to "flat rock". Escanaba was an Ojibwa village in the early 19th century. As an American settlement, Escanaba began as a port town in the mid-19th century, gaining importance to the Union as a shipping point for iron ore, lumber and copper during the Civil War. In his poem "The Song of Hiawatha", Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described how Hiawatha "crossed the rushing Esconaba" referring to the river. Located on Little Bay de Noc at the northern edge of Lake Michigan, Escanaba continues to serve as an important shipping point for iron ore to other Great Lakes ports, especially south to Chicago and northern Indiana. The local paper mill, for many years Mead Corporation's Publishing Paper Division, is currently operated by NewPage Corporation; located on the outskirts of the city alongside the Escanaba River, it is now the area's largest employer.

As shipping increased, a lighthouse was needed to warn of a sand shoals that reached out into Little Bay de Noc from Sand Point, a sandspit located just south of and adjacent to the harbor area. The United States Lighthouse Service approved construction of the Sand Point Lighthouse at a cost of $11,000. Construction began in the fall of 1867 and was completed in early spring 1868. It was deactivated in 1939, and was used by the United States Coast Guard to house seaman assigned to Escanaba. The building was completely restored to its original design in the late 1980s, and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

2009-0619-Escanaba-Ludington
The historic House of Ludington, downtown Escanaba.

The House of Ludington is a landmark historic hotel in downtown Escanaba. Originally built in 1865 as the Gaynor House Hotel, it was renamed after lumberman Nelson Ludington in 1871. It was rebuilt as a brick structure in the Queen Anne Style in 1883, becoming the New Ludington Hotel.

Bay de Noc Community College, a public 2-year college, was founded in the city in 1962.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 16.50 square miles (42.73 km2), of which 12.88 square miles (33.36 km2) is land and 3.62 square miles (9.38 km2) is water. Escanaba is home to one the safest natural harbors in the upper Great Lakes, which makes it a natural destination for boaters. Ludington Park, a three-quarter mile stretch of lake shore where the city's easternmost point extends into Little Bay de Noc, is one of the largest city parks in Michigan. Escanaba's Harbor Tower, an 18 story apartment building, is the tallest building in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Transportation

Chicago and North Western Railway Station Escanaba Michigan
C&NW railway station in Escanaba, Michigan - 1953.

Major highways

  • US 2 runs eastward to St. Ignace and the Mackinac Bridge, 143 miles (230 km) to the east. Along the way it passes through Gladstone, 9 miles (14 km) north/east and Manistique, 54 miles (87 km) east. It runs west concurrent with US 41 until Powers, and from there 21 miles (34 km) west to Iron Mountain.
  • US 41 connects with Marquette 66 miles (106 km) to the north and with Powers 24 miles (39 km) west before turning south to Menominee.
  • M-35 runs northwest 51 miles (82 km) through undeveloped areas to Gwinn. Going south, it provides a direct route along the shore of Green Bay to Menominee, 55 miles (89 km) to the southwest.
  • M-69 runs northwest toward many rural communities before ending at Crystal Falls.

Airport

  • The city is served by Delta County Airport (KESC), with daily flights to Detroit via Delta Connection

Motor coach

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 3,026
1890 6,808 125.0%
1900 9,549 40.3%
1910 13,194 38.2%
1920 13,103 −0.7%
1930 14,524 10.8%
1940 14,830 2.1%
1950 15,170 2.3%
1960 15,391 1.5%
1970 15,368 −0.1%
1980 14,355 −6.6%
1990 13,659 −4.8%
2000 13,140 −3.8%
2010 12,616 −4.0%
2019 (est.) 12,160 −3.6%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 12,616 people, 5,622 households, and 3,090 families residing in the city. The population density was 979.5 inhabitants per square mile (378.2/km2). There were 6,178 housing units at an average density of 479.7 per square mile (185.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.5% White, 0.4% African American, 2.6% Native American, 0.6% Asian, 0.3% from other races, and 2.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.2% of the population.

There were 5,622 households, of which 26.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.8% were married couples living together, 13.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.6% had a male householder with no wife present, and 45.0% were non-families. Of all households 38.2% were made up of individuals, and 17.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.82.

The median age in the city was 41.4 years. 21.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 22.6% were from 25 to 44; 26.4% were from 45 to 64; and 19.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.1% male and 52.9% female.

Culture

2009-0619-EscanabaJHS
Escanaba Middle School; the school board opted to completely renovate the historic 1930s downtown building instead of moving it outside of town.

Although politically a part of the state of Michigan, Escanaba and the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan sometimes have closer cultural ties to the state of Wisconsin. Tourism has become significant for the local economy. Tourist draws include Lake Michigan beaches and local fishing and hunting opportunities. Most visitors come from Wisconsin and Illinois.

Escanaba is home to the William Bonifas Fine Arts Center, The Waterfront Art Festival, The Escanaba City Band, The Players de Noc, The Bay de Noc Choral Society and many smaller arts organizations, art galleries and musical performing groups.

Other attractions include the Cedar River Lighthouse, Delta County Historical Museum, Escanaba Family Fun Park, Herbal Acres, Sand Point Lighthouse, U.P. Steam & Gas Engine Museum, Wells Sports Complex, and Ludington Park.

In January 1968, Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi's daughter was married in Escanaba at St. Anne's Church. Upon finding out his then-unwed daughter was pregnant, Lombardi, who was vacationing in Florida at the time, insisted she drive to Michigan to get married rather than doing it Green Bay, in order to keep the news out of the papers.

Local radio stations include KMB Broadcasting's WDBC 680 AM (adult standards) and WYKX 104.7 FM (country music), Lakes Radio's WCHT 600 AM (news/talk), WGLQ 97.1 FM (adult top 40), WCMM 102.5 FM (country), and WGKL 105.5 FM (oldies), and standalone WUPF 107.3 FM (classic hits). Escanaba is also served by low-power translator stations of WNMU translator W296AX from Marquette, MI (at 96.5 FM), WPFF translator W254AG from Sturgeon Bay, WI (at 98.7 FM), and WHWL translator W261AI from Marquette, MI (at 100.1 FM). WJMN-TV, the local television station on channel 3, is mostly a satellite of WFRV in Green Bay and carries CBS programming. WLUC-TV in Marquette also operates a translator station in Escanaba on channel 14.

Climate

This climatic region is typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Escanaba has a humid continental climate, abbreviated "Dfb" on climate maps.

Climate data for Escanaba, Michigan (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1948–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 55
(12.8)
52
(11.1)
70
(21.1)
84
(28.9)
91
(32.8)
98
(36.7)
99
(37.2)
100
(37.8)
96
(35.6)
82
(27.8)
71
(21.7)
58
(14.4)
100
(37.8)
Average high °F (°C) 26.4
(-3.11)
28.5
(-1.94)
36.4
(2.44)
47.9
(8.83)
60.1
(15.61)
70.3
(21.28)
76.0
(24.44)
75.4
(24.11)
67.6
(19.78)
55.0
(12.78)
42.4
(5.78)
31.1
(-0.5)
51.4
(10.78)
Daily mean °F (°C) 16.2
(-8.78)
17.6
(-8)
26.0
(-3.33)
38.3
(3.5)
50.1
(10.06)
60.0
(15.56)
65.6
(18.67)
65.3
(18.5)
57.2
(14)
45.7
(7.61)
33.8
(1)
22.1
(-5.5)
41.5
(5.28)
Average low °F (°C) 6.0
(-14.44)
6.7
(-14.06)
15.5
(-9.17)
28.7
(-1.83)
40.1
(4.5)
49.7
(9.83)
55.1
(12.83)
55.1
(12.83)
46.9
(8.28)
36.3
(2.39)
25.2
(-3.78)
13.1
(-10.5)
31.5
(-0.28)
Record low °F (°C) −28
(-33.3)
−30
(-34.4)
−26
(-32.2)
-1
(-18.3)
23
(-5)
30
(-1.1)
38
(3.3)
38
(3.3)
25
(-3.9)
19
(-7.2)
−7
(-21.7)
−23
(-30.6)
−30
(-34.4)
Precipitation inches (mm) 1.06
(26.9)
0.92
(23.4)
1.77
(45)
2.23
(56.6)
2.94
(74.7)
2.98
(75.7)
3.37
(85.6)
3.35
(85.1)
3.20
(81.3)
2.96
(75.2)
2.45
(62.2)
1.44
(36.6)
28.67
(728.2)
Snowfall inches (cm) 13.1
(33.3)
7.9
(20.1)
9.5
(24.1)
2.7
(6.9)
0.1
(0.3)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
0.0
(0)
Trace 4.4
(11.2)
11.8
(30)
49.5
(125.7)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.3 6.5 7.9 9.5 10.5 11.7 9.9 10.5 10.9 11.7 9.4 10.0 117.8
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 7.0 4.2 3.5 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 2.5 5.4 23.7
Source: NOAA

In popular culture

Escanaba is featured in the film Escanaba in da Moonlight. Featured in the song "Rock Climbing" on the cartoon Phineas and Ferb.

Education

2009-0619-EscanabaJHS
Escanaba Middle School

In 2003, the school board opted to completely renovate the historic 1930's junior high school, rather than move it outside of town. Escanaba Area Public Schools operate the public schools in Escanaba, which includes various elementary schools, the middle school, and the high school. There is also a private school, Holy Name Catholic School, which teaches pre-school children all the way up to eighth grade. Bay College, a public 2-year college, was founded in the city in 1962. It offers various two year degrees and certificate programs ranging from welding, public safety, business, nursing, among others.

Infrastructure

Escanaba's Harbor Tower, an 18-story apartment building, is the tallest building in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Transportation

  • US 2 runs eastward to St. Ignace and the Mackinac Bridge, 143 miles (230 km) to the east. Along the way it passes through Gladstone, 9 miles (14 km) north/east and Manistique, 54 miles (87 km) east. It runs west concurrent with US 41 until Powers, and from there 21 miles (34 km) west to Iron Mountain.
  • US 41 connects with Marquette 66 miles (106 km) to the north and with Powers 24 miles (39 km) west before turning south to Menominee.
  • M-35 runs northwest 51 miles (82 km) through undeveloped areas to Gwinn. Going south, it provides a direct route along the shore of Green Bay to Menominee, 55 miles (89 km) to the southwest.
  • M-69 runs northwest toward many rural communities before ending at Crystal Falls.

Airport

  • The city is served by Delta County Airport (KESC), with daily flights to Detroit and Minneapolis via Delta Connection.

Buses

Notable people

  • Tom Bissell, author and Guggenheim Fellow
  • Kevin Chown, American bass player most notable for his work with Chad Smith of Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Tarja Turunen, Finnish soprano artist.
  • Fahey Flynn, television news reader
  • Karla M. Gray, Montana's first female chief justice
  • Becky Iverson, professional golfer
  • Nelson Ludington, settler who named the city
  • Eli Parsons Royce, founder of city
  • Willard A. Saunders, Rear admiral, USN and Navy Cross recipient during World War II
  • "Roaring Dan" Seavey, Great Lakes pirate
  • Kevin Tapani, baseball player
  • Chauncey W. Yockey, Wisconsin State Assemblyman.

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