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Washtenaw County, Michigan facts for kids

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Washtenaw County
Washtenaw County Courthouse
Washtenaw County Courthouse
Official seal of Washtenaw County
Map of Michigan highlighting Washtenaw County
Location within the U.S. state of Michigan
Map of the United States highlighting Michigan
Michigan's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Michigan
Founded 1822 (created)
1826 (organized)
Named for O-wash-ta-nong ("far away water"), Ojibwe name for the Grand River
Seat Ann Arbor
Largest city Ann Arbor
 • Total 722 sq mi (1,870 km2)
 • Land 706 sq mi (1,830 km2)
 • Water 16 sq mi (40 km2)  2.3%%
 • Total 372,258
 • Density 527/sq mi (203/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts 7th, 12th

Washtenaw County is a county located in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2020 census, the population was 372,258. The county seat is Ann Arbor. The county was authorized by legislation in 1822, and was organized as a county in 1826. Washtenaw County comprises the Ann Arbor Metropolitan Statistical Area and is included in the Detroit-Warren-Ann Arbor Combined Statistical Area. The county is home to the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw Community College, and Concordia University Ann Arbor.


The earliest histories mention trade conducted in the area at the Potawatomi Trail and Pontiac Trail crossings of the Huron River by French traders, and later English then American settlers. The first successful settlement was established at the present site of Ypsilanti about 1809 by French traders.

In 1822, the Legislative Council of the Michigan Territory government defined the name and boundaries of the county; however, it was at first administered as a part of Wayne County. The word: Washtenaw is a variant of the Ojibwe word: "Wash-ten-ong," meaning what is now called the "Grand River". At the time of the official naming of the county in 1822, the headwaters of the Grand River fell within the original boundaries of Washtenaw County, which encompassed a much larger area than the current area of the county. In the Ojibwe language, the word "Wash-ten-ong" literally translates as "far away waters", and was then used by the Ojibwe as the name for the Grand River due to the great length of that river. Accordingly, most literally, the definition of the word "Washtenaw" could be said to mean, "far away waters".

Four years after the first platting out of the county, Washtenaw county was established as a separate self-administered county by an act of the Michigan Territorial Legislature, in 1826. It was attached for administrative purposes to Wayne County until {before 1829} when county government was seated. Ingham and other counties were formed from portions of territorial Washtenaw County.

Swamps were drained and farms were tiled to lower the water table. The swamp northwest of the I-94 and US-23 intersection, and areas within Waterloo Recreation Area still appear as they did to early settlers. As productive farms became established, the local deer herds grew. In the 1820s and 1830s, the events surrounding the independence of Greece from Turkey inspired construction of Greek Revival buildings, and the names of townships, towns, and children.

The "frostbitten constitutional convention" was held at Ann Arbor, the county seat, in 1835. Following resolution of the Toledo War (1835-1836), in which Michigan Territory gave up its claim to the Toledo strip in exchange for most of the Upper Peninsula, Michigan became a state on January 26, 1837. The University of Michigan, founded at Detroit in 1817, was then moved by the state to Ann Arbor in 1839 as a consolation for the city not being named the new state capital, as it had hoped. The University subsequently became and remains the largest employer in the county.

In 1849, the Michigan State Normal School (now Eastern Michigan University) was established in Washtenaw's oldest settlement, the city of Ypsilanti.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 722 square miles (1,870 km2), of which 706 square miles (1,830 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2) (2.3%) is water.

Adjacent counties

Major highways

Interstate 94 Business Route Ann Arbor Washtenaw Avenue
Business Loop Interstate 94/Business US Highway 23 (BL I-94/Bus. US 23, Washtenaw Avenue) in Ann Arbor
  • I-94
  • BL I-94
  • US 12 (Michigan Avenue, Chicago Road)

  • Bus. US 12
  • US 23

  • Bus. US 23
  • M-14
  • M-17
  • M-52
  • M-153 (Ford Road)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1830 4,042
1840 23,571 483.2%
1850 28,567 21.2%
1860 35,686 24.9%
1870 41,434 16.1%
1880 41,848 1.0%
1890 42,210 0.9%
1900 47,761 13.2%
1910 44,714 −6.4%
1920 49,520 10.7%
1930 65,530 32.3%
1940 80,810 23.3%
1950 134,606 66.6%
1960 172,440 28.1%
1970 234,103 35.8%
1980 264,748 13.1%
1990 282,937 6.9%
2000 322,895 14.1%
2010 344,791 6.8%
2020 372,258 8.0%
US Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2019

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 344,791 people living in the county. 74.5% were White, 12.7% Black or African American, 7.9% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 1.2% of some other race and 3.4% of two or more races. 4.0% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race). 16.0% were of German, 7.6% English, 7.5% Irish, 6.3% American and 5.0% Polish ancestry.

Washtenaw has the highest proportion of Asian-American residents of any Michigan county.

As of the 2000 census of 2000, 17.4% of county residents were of German ancestry; 9.0% cited English, 8.4% Irish, 5.3% Polish and 5.0% American ancestry. According to Census 2000, 87.1% spoke only English at home; 2.7% spoke Spanish and 1.7% Chinese or Mandarin.

There were 125,327 households, out of which 29.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.40% were married couples living together, 9.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.20% were non-families. 29.50% of all households were made up of individuals, and 5.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 22.10% under the age of 18, 17.10% from 18 to 24, 32.10% from 25 to 44, 20.60% from 45 to 64, and 8.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.10 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $51,990, and the median income for a family was $70,393 (these figures had risen to $59,887 and $80,779 respectively as of a 2007 estimate.) Males had a median income of $49,304 versus $33,598 for females. The per capita income for the county was $27,173. About 5.10% of families and 11.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.60% of those under age 18 and 5.80% of those age 65 or over.


Washtenaw County was formed from a portion of Wayne County. It is one of many Michigan counties which has a name not borne by any other county in the United States. As the population increased, townships were formed. Amongst the townships, communities have grown from hamlets into villages and cities. Some of the townships have elected to incorporate as charter townships.



Charter townships

General law townships

Census-designated place

Other unincorporated communities

Also see: Official Washtenaw County website page listing localities


Biomedical Science Research 2010
A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building at the University of Michigan's medical school

The largest employers in Washtenaw County, as of July 2018, are:

# Employer # of full-time employees
1 University of Michigan 33,225
2 Trinity Health 7,435
3 United States Federal government 3,060
4 Ann Arbor Public Schools 2,225
5 Faurecia North America 2,178
6 Eastern Michigan University 1,559
7 IHA Health Services 1,442
8 State of Michigan 1,409
9 Washtenaw County 1,264
10 Thomson Reuters 1,155
11 Domino's Pizza 812
12 City of Ann Arbor 712
13 Ford Motor Company 700
14 NSF International 693
15 US Postal Service 650
16 Washtenaw Community College 597
17 DTE Energy 568
18 Ypsilanti Public Schools 550
19 ProQuest 542

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