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Ypsilanti, Michigan facts for kids

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Ypsilanti, Michigan
City of Ypsilanti
Images from top to bottom, left to right: Ypsilanti Water Tower, Depot Town/Sidetrack Bar & Grill, Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum, Michigan Firehouse Museum, and Eastern Michigan University's Starkweather Hall
Images from top to bottom, left to right: Ypsilanti Water Tower, Depot Town/Sidetrack Bar & Grill, Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum, Michigan Firehouse Museum, and Eastern Michigan University's Starkweather Hall
Flag of Ypsilanti, Michigan
Official seal of Ypsilanti, Michigan
Ypsi, The Free Zone
"Pride. Diversity. Heritage."
Location within Washtenaw County
Location within Washtenaw County
Ypsilanti, Michigan is located in Michigan
Ypsilanti, Michigan
Ypsilanti, Michigan
Location in Michigan
Country United States
State Michigan
County Washtenaw
Settled 1823
Incorporated 1832 (village)
1858 (city)
 • Type Council–manager
 • Total 4.40 sq mi (11.39 km2)
 • Land 4.23 sq mi (10.95 km2)
 • Water 0.17 sq mi (0.44 km2)
719 ft (219 m)
 • Total 20,648
 • Density 4,881.32/sq mi (1,885.66/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code(s)
48197, 48198
Area code(s) 734
FIPS code 26-89140
GNIS feature ID 1616910

Ypsilanti commonly shortened to Ypsi, is a city in Washtenaw County in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is part of the Detroit–Warren–Ann Arbor metropolitan area. As of the 2020 census, the city's population was 20,648. The city is bounded to the north by Superior Township and on the west, south, and east by Ypsilanti Township. It is best known as the home of Eastern Michigan University and is the location of the first Domino's Pizza.


Early history

Ypsilanti Water Tower Exterior Cross and bust
Bust of Demetrios Ypsilantis at the Ypsilanti Water Tower

Originally a trading post established in 1809 by Gabriel Godfroy, a French-Canadian fur trader from Montreal, a permanent settlement was established on the east side of the Huron River in 1823 by Major Thomas Woodruff. It was incorporated into the Territory of Michigan as the village Woodruff's Grove. A separate community a short distance away on the west side of the river was established in 1825 under the name "Ypsilanti", after Demetrios Ypsilantis, a hero in the Greek War of Independence. Woodruff's Grove changed its name to Ypsilanti in 1829, the year its namesake effectively won the Greek war, and the two communities eventually merged. A bust of Demetrios Ypsilantis by Greek sculptor Christopher Nastos stands between a Greek and a US flag at the base of the landmark Ypsilanti Water Tower.

Automotive history

Ypsilanti has played an important role in the automobile industry. From 1920 to 1922, Apex Motors produced the "ACE" car. It was in Ypsilanti that Preston Tucker (whose family owned the Ypsilanti Machine Tool Company) designed and built the prototypes for his Tucker '48. Tucker's story was related in the film Tucker: The Man and His Dream, directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

In 1945, Henry J. Kaiser and Joseph W. Frazer bought the nearby Willow Run B-24 Liberator bomber plant from Ford Motor Company, and started to make Kaiser and Frazer model cars in 1947. The last Kaiser car made in Ypsilanti rolled off the assembly line in 1953, when the company merged with Willys-Overland and moved production to Toledo, Ohio. General Motors purchased the Kaiser Frazer plant, and converted it into its Hydramatic Division (now called its Powertrain division), beginning production in November 1953. The GM Powertrain Division ceased production at this facility in 2010.

Ypsilanti is also the location of the last Hudson automobile dealership. Today, the former dealership is the site of the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Collection. The museum is the home to an original Fabulous Hudson Hornet race car, which inspired the character Doc Hudson in the 2006 Pixar animated film Cars.

Political history

Statue of Harriet Tubman Ypsilanti Michigan
Statue of Harriet Tubman in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

In 1979, Faz Husain was elected to the Ypsilanti city council, the first Muslim and the first native of India to win elected office in Michigan.

In the 1990s Ypsilanti became the first city in Michigan to pass a living wage ordinance.

In the late 1990s, the city adopted an ordinance to ban discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity/transgender status, body weight (i.e., being obese or underweight). Two ballot measures to repeal the ordinance were led and bankrolled by conservatives, including Tom Monaghan. Both measures failed, the second by a larger percentage than the first.

On July 23, 2007, Governor Jennifer Granholm announced that Ypsilanti, along with the cities of Caro and Clio, was chosen by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to take part in the Blueprints for Michigan's Downtowns program. The award provides for an economic development consultant to assist Ypsilanti in developing a growth and job creation strategy for the downtown area.


  • 1809 – Trading post established by French-Canadian Gabriel Godfroy from Montreal
  • 1823 – Village of Woodruff's Grove platted
  • 1825 – April 21, Plat recorded under the name Ypsilanti
  • 1827 – Ypsilanti Township organized
  • 1832 – June 19, Woodruff's Grove re-organized and incorporated as the Village of Ypsilanti
  • 1849 – Eastern Michigan University founded as Michigan State Normal School
  • 1858 – February 4, the Village of Ypsilanti reincorporated as a city
  • 1890 – Michigan's first interurban, the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Street Railway, begins service
  • 1890 – The Ypsilanti Water Tower is completed
  • 1929 – Miller Motors Hudson opens, it eventually becomes the last Hudson dealership in the world
  • 1931 – McKenny Union opens as the first student union on the campus of a teachers' college.
  • 1959 – Eastern Michigan becomes a university
  • 1960 – Tom Monaghan founds Domino's Pizza as DomiNick's Pizza at 507 W. Cross St, Ypsilanti.
  • 1990 – Eastern Michigan University achieves its highest student enrollment of 26,000
  • 1998 – The Michigan Firehouse Museum is established preserving a firehouse built in 1898.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.52 square miles (11.71 km2), of which 4.33 square miles (11.21 km2) is land and 0.19 square miles (0.49 km2) is water. The Huron River flows through both the City of Ypsilanti and the Charter Township of Ypsilanti.

Ypsilanti is located at 42°14′N 83°37′W / 42.24°N 83.62°W / 42.24; -83.62, in the western reaches of the Detroit/Windsor metropolitan area. Suburban development between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, via Washtenaw Avenue and Packard Road, has been unbroken since the late 1960s. Downtown Ypsilanti and the surrounding neighborhoods are the site of many historical homes, including kit homes by companies like Aladdin and Sears.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 3,955
1870 5,471 38.3%
1880 4,984 −8.9%
1890 6,129 23.0%
1900 7,378 20.4%
1910 6,230 −15.6%
1920 7,413 19.0%
1930 10,143 36.8%
1940 12,121 19.5%
1950 18,302 51.0%
1960 20,957 14.5%
1970 29,538 40.9%
1980 24,031 −18.6%
1990 24,818 3.3%
2000 22,362 −9.9%
2010 19,435 −13.1%
2020 20,648 6.2%
Sources: United States Census (1900–2000)
U.S. Census Bureau (2009)

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 19,435 people, 8,026 households, and 2,880 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,488.5 inhabitants per square mile (1,733.0/km2). There were 9,271 housing units at an average density of 2,141.1 per square mile (826.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 61.5% White, 29.2% African American, 0.6% Native American, 3.4% Asian, 1.1% from other races, and 4.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.9% of the population.

There were 8,026 households, of which 18.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 19.7% were married couples living together, 12.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 64.1% were non-families. 42.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.06 and the average family size was 2.92.

The median age in the city was 25 years. 14.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 35.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 25.3% were from 25 to 44; 16.6% were from 45 to 64; and 8.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 49.7% male and 50.3% female.


Ypsilanti is often shortened to "Ypsi," particularly in spoken conversation and local/regional usage.

Because a large number of residents or their ancestors migrated from Appalachia, certain neighborhoods (particularly on the far east side of the city and into Ypsilanti Township) are sometimes called "Ypsitucky." Harriette Arnow's book The Dollmaker, which was made into a film starring Jane Fonda, focused on the lives of these "Ypsituckians."

Recently, the use of the term "Ypsitucky" has come under increased scrutiny due to its historically derogatory connotation. In 2008, the issue was raised after a dinner being held in Ann Arbor to honor Harriette Arnow was described as an "Ypsitucky Supper" in some of the event organizer's media releases. In 2009, planning began for the "Ypsitucky Jamboree," a new music festival celebrating bluegrass music to be held in Ypsilanti in September 2009; this resulted in objections from some area residents and some members of the City Council, leading to renaming the event as simply "The Jamboree."

Sites of interest

Michigan Firehouse Museum PICT0035
The new addition to the historic building which houses the Michigan Firehouse Museum was completed in the summer of 2002.

Ypsilanti has the second largest contiguous historic district in the state of Michigan, behind only the much larger city of Grand Rapids. The historic district includes both downtown Ypsilanti, along Michigan Avenue, and the Depot Town area adjacent to Frog Island Park and Riverside Park, which features many specialty shops, bars and grills, and a farmers' market.

The Tridge is a three-way wooden footbridge under the Cross Street bridge over the Huron River at 42°14′44″N 83°36′42″W / 42.24561°N 83.61160°W / 42.24561; -83.61160. The Tridge connects Riverside Park, Frog Island Park, and Depot Town.

Starkweather Chapel
Starkweather Chapel, in Richardsonian Romanesque architectonic style, in Highland Cemetery

Other sites of interest include:



Ypsi streets
Street map of Ypsilanti


  • I-94 bypasses the city to the south.
  • US 12 travels east to Detroit and west toward Chicago; it runs concurrently with I-94 from exit 181 to the west of the city to exit 185 to the east of the city.
  • US 23 passes just west of the city.

  • Bus. US 12 is a loop route through downtown Ypsilanti.
  • M-17 connects Ypsilanti with nearby Ann Arbor.


  • Willow Run Airport, located near Ypsilanti, serves a variety of freight and general aviation air traffic. Major international freight carriers Kalitta Air and National Airlines are based there, however there are no scheduled commercial flights. Willow Run was once one of the Detroit area's major commercial airports, hosting international flights to Europe, but all commercial traffic had switched to nearby Detroit Metro Airport by 1967.
  • Amtrak's thrice-daily Wolverine service from Chicago to Pontiac passes through Ypsilanti, but does not stop. Amtrak's last passenger train stopped in Ypsilanti in 1984.
  • The Border-to-Border Trail winds through Ypsilanti, linking the city to Ann Arbor and (eventually) Dexter.
  • The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority operates bus service in Ypsilanti, with service radiating from the Ypsilanti Transit Center at 220 Pearl Street in downtown.


Ypsilanti Water Tower 2011
The Ypsilanti Water Tower and bust of Demetrios Ypsilantis.

Cultural history and attractions

Domino's Pizza was founded in Ypsilanti in 1960 near the campus of Eastern Michigan University.

By 1963, Clara Owens established the Ypsilanti Greek Theater in Ypsilanti, Michigan for the performance of Greek theater productions.

In 1966 the Ypsilanti Greek Theater opened at the EMU Baseball field. Bert Lahr and Dame Judith Anderson starred in two productions, The Oresteia, a trilogy of Greek tragedies written by Aeschylus and The Birds by playwright Aristophanes.

Since 1979, the city has become known for summer festivals in the part of the city called "Depot Town", which is adjacent to both Riverside and Frog Island Parks along the banks of the Huron River. Festivals include the annual Ypsilanti Heritage Festival, the Elvis Festival, the Orphan Car Festival, the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival, the former Frog Island Festival, and a Latino festival.

Painter Fay Kleinman moved to Ypsilanti in the late 1980s with her husband, pianist Emanuel Levenson.

Overlooking Riverside Park is the non-profit Riverside Arts Center. Established in 1994 through the efforts of the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority and several public spirited citizens, the Riverside boasts a 115-seat black box theater, a sizable art gallery and some meeting rooms and offices. In 2006 the adjacent DTE building was renovated with "Cool Cities Initiative" money and is in the process of being incorporated into the center's activities.

Depot Town in Ypsilanti is also home to the Michigan ElvisFest every summer.

In popular culture

  • It has been said that Ypsilanti is the Brooklyn to Ann Arbor's Manhattan. Comparable to the gentrification causing many artists, poets, musicians, and hipsters to flee the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City to areas like Bushwick, Brooklyn, nearby Ann Arbor has experienced massive increases in land value and taxes over the last several decades. Despite Ann Arbor's reputation in the region as a bohemian cultural center, many creative people have been driven out of the city to Ypsilanti due to these changes. A vibrant, underground arts scene has begun to emerge as a result. This community gathers semiannually at the juried Shadow Art Fair held at The Corner Brewery.
  • Milton Rokeach's 1964 psychiatric case study, The Three Christs of Ypsilanti, inspired a stage play and two operas. Poet W. H. Auden described it as "a very funny book ... about a hospital in which there are three gents, all of whom believe themselves to be the Lord. Which is common enough, except in the case of one—who had actually found a disciple!"
  • Author Kurt Vonnegut has a chapter titled "A Sappy Girl From Ypsilanti" in his 2005 book A Man Without a Country.
  • The Ypsilanti City Council declared Lee Osler's "Back To Ypsilanti" the city's official song in 1983.
  • Iggy Pop grew up in the Coachville trailer park, lot 963423, on Carpenter Road in Pittsfield Township (near Ypsilanti) during his teenage years at the start of his music career.
  • Ypsilanti is the subject of Sufjan Stevens' song, "For The Widows In Paradise, For The Fatherless In Ypsilanti", on his 2003 album Michigan.
  • A portrait of jazz guitarist Randy Napoleon, painted by his grandmother, Fay Kleinman, is part of the permanent art collection of the Ypsilanti District Library. Napoleon performed his first public gig as leader at the age of twelve under a tent at the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival, an event sponsored by WEMU radio.
  • The Emmanuel Lutheran Church of Ypsilanti hosted filming for two days of the Movie Stone, starring Robert De Niro. The funeral service and a few outside scenes were filmed at the Church, with locals posing as extras.
  • In the 2004 cartoon Superior Defender Gundam Force, in the intro for the eighth episode "A Princess, A Cake, and A Winged Knight" a character named Shute goes onto to describe his hometown and claims it to be Ypsilanti, Michigan, shortly after he says he was "just kidding" and introduces the city as Neotopia.

Sister cities


K–12 education

Ypsilanti Community Schools serve residents of the city, as well as parts of Ypsilanti Township and Superior Township. Ypsilanti Public Schools and Willow Run Community Schools merged to form a new, united district on July 1, 2013. Charter schools in the city include Arbor Preparatory High School.

It also was the setting of a well known and long running High/Scope Perry Preschool Study regarding the effects of early childhood education in children. The study researched the effects of preschool on the later lives of low income children from the area.

Global Educational Excellence operates the Global Tech Academy (PreK-5) in nearby Ypsilanti Township.

Higher education

A college town, Ypsilanti is home to Eastern Michigan University, founded in 1849 as Michigan State Normal School. Today, Eastern Michigan University has 17,500+ undergraduate and more than 4,800 graduate students. As well, Ypsilanti is home to Washtenaw Community College (WCC) sponsored off-site extension center.

University Park on EMU campus

Notable people

  • Blanch Ackers – folk artist and painter
  • Nickolas Ashford – songwriter and singer in the duo Ashford & Simpson
  • Samiya Bashir — American poet and author, born in Ypsilanti
  • Mike Bass – NFL player, defensive back for Detroit Lions (1967) and Washington Redskins (1969–1975), scored touchdown in Super Bowl VII
  • Walter Briggs Sr. — owner of Detroit Tigers 1919–1952, born in Ypsilanti
  • Byron M. CutcheonAmerican Civil War general and U.S. Congressman
  • Brandon Denson – professional Canadian Football League player who plays defensive end for the Ottawa Redblacks
  • Amy Devers – furniture designer and TV personality (Freeform Furniture, Designer People, Trading Spaces, Fix This Yard, Home Made Simple)
  • Adam Gase – New York Jets head coach
  • Rodney Holman – NFL player, tight end for the Cincinnati Bengals (1982–1992), and the Detroit Lions (1993–1995)
  • Zeke Jones - American olympic wrestler
  • Charles S. Kettles was a retired United States Army lieutenant colonel and a Medal of Honor recipient.
  • Carolyn King – one of first girls to play Little League baseball; centerpiece of landmark lawsuit in 1973 that led to Little League dropping boys-only policy
  • Janae Marie Kroc – record-setting powerlifter and transgender model
  • Alfred Lucking – U.S. Congressman
  • Helen Walker McAndrew (1825-1906) - Washtenaw County's first female physician and participant in the Underground Railroad
  • William McAndrew (1863-1937), educator who served as the superintendent of Chicago Public Schools
  • Elijah McCoy – inventor and participant in the Underground Railroad in Ypsilanti
  • Shara Nova – lead singer and songwriter for My Brightest Diamond
  • Russell C. Ostrander – former mayor of Lansing and Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court
  • Frank Owen – pitcher for 1906 World Series champion Chicago White Sox
  • Lowell Perry – NFL football player, first African American hired to be assistant coach in the NFL
  • Iggy Pop – rock star, "Godfather of Punk" - grew up in the Coachville trailer park, lot 963423, on Carpenter Road in Pittsfield Township (near Ypsilanti) during his teenage years at the start of his music career.
  • Anthony Sugent - Vocalist for the pro-LGBTQ+ band SycAmour
  • Charles Ramsey – former Eastern Michigan Eagles men's basketball head coach; he played on the YHS baseball, basketball and football teams
  • Victor Roache – left fielder for Milwaukee Brewers
  • Don Schwall – former MLB player (Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves)
  • Ryan Shay (1979–2007) – long-distance runner
  • Michael Joseph Sobran Jr.-known professionally as Joseph Sobran, conservative writer and syndicated columist
  • Bob Sutton – defensive coordinator for NFL's Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets; head coach for Army 1991–99
  • Marie Tharp (1920–2006) – geologist who pioneered understanding of plate tectonics and continental drift
  • Preston Tucker (September 21, 1903 – December 26, 1956) was an American automobile entrepreneur, owned the Ypsilanti Tool & Dye Company.
  • Edwin F. Uhl – mayor of Grand Rapids, ambassador, U.S. Secretary of State
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