15 Amazing Facts About America’s Most Famous College Town

If you have ever spent time in Ann Arbor, Michigan, you may feel a sense of awe.

Perhaps America’s most famous college town, Ann Arbor is unlike any other city in the world.

Home to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor not only houses a top-tier research university, it is also one of America’s most dynamic cultures.

Historically, Ann Arbor has been a major intellectual center for forward-thinking liberal politics. Today, Ann Arbor successfully carries this feeling into the 21st century and has become one of the most highly-ranked cities in the country.

Ann Arbor is complete with a unique culture & history separating it from every other college town in America.

So what makes Ann Arbor so interesting? Here are 15 intriguing facts about Ann Arbor.

15. Fairy Doors Are Everywhere

Dwight Burdette, Fairy door at Red Shoes Ann Arbor Michigan, CC BY 3.0

One of Ann Arbor’s most distinct, mystical features are its fairy doors. 

The very first fairy doors were spotted in 1993 at the residence of two Ann Arborites. The first public fairy door was actually spotted outside a Sweetwater’s in 2005, and since then another 10 have shown up throughout the city.

True to the nature of Ann Arbor, the cultural response has been exceptionally positive; children in Ann Arbor are seen leaving gifts for the fairies at the doors. Local shops sometimes hand out maps for all the fairy doors in the city.

Additionally, a number of high-profile newspapers have covered the emergence of these charming entrances, including the Washington Post in 2006.

14. The University of Michigan Once Went Nearly 25 Years Without Holding a Class

It is strange to think that one of the nation’s most bustling institutions once did not have class for 25 years.

But it’s true – the University of Michigan was technically founded in 1817 in Detroit. It relocated 20 years later to Ann Arbor – and never actually held a class in Detroit!

It still took the school four more years after its relocation to have its very first class in 1841.

The first graduating class of Michigan, in 1845, consisted of 11 men, according to Travel and Leisure. In 175 years, the school has grown – just a little bit – to over 46,000 students.

13. An Amazing 1.5 Million Trees Adorn Ann Arbor

Dwight Burdette, Peony Garden Nichols Arboretum University of Michigan Ann Arbor, CC BY 3.0

According to the City of Ann Arbor, 1.5 million trees comprise what the residents call “Tree Town.” These trees naturally remove over 400 tons of pollution every year, equivalent to the pollution generated by nearly 360,000 automobiles!

Because of these trees, Ann Arbor has healthier air, less carbon dioxide, and cleaner water compared to other cities with less forestry.

It makes sense Ann Arbor has so many trees; after all, it takes its name from the word arbor, which means tree in Latin.

12. The Internet’s Biggest Musical Started Here

One of YouTube’s biggest sensations in its first five years online was a musical started in Ann Arbor.

Based on the famed Harry Potter series, A Very Potter Musical was created and performed by students at the University of Michigan. 

Many of the actors in this musical consisted of future Hollywood stars, including Golden-Globe award winning actor Darren Criss.

With over 15 million views on YouTube alone, A Very Potter Musical was one of the internet’s biggest success stories of the early 2000s. 

So what did J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, think about this?

In a response to a fan on Twitter in 2015, J.K. Rowling said she felt it was “a work of genius.” 

11. The First Anti-War “Teach-In” Started in Ann Arbor

A teach-in is an educational seminar about a current affair, normally political in nature. Unlike a traditional seminar, there are no time-limits, and there is a strong bias towards taking action to further a specific cause.

Ann Arbor, intentionally or not, created the first teach-in back in 1965. 

The topic of this teach-in? The Vietnam War, specifically the draft.

This anti-war teach-in was the first of many, spawning a historic national movement. Subsequent anti-war teach-ins were later staged at Columbia University, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and NYU throughout the rest of 1965.

Ann Arbor’s tremendous legacy as an anti-war college town paved the way for academia to speak out against social issues. The impact this has had in our country cannot be stated enough, which is another reason why Ann Arbor is such an important college town.

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