15 Amazing Facts About America’s Most Famous College Town

5. Past Residents Include Darth Vader, a Google Co-Founder, a President, Tom Brady, and Madonna

Tom Brady attended Michigan – photo by Jeffrey Beall via Wikimedia Commons

Many alumni of the University of Michigan became leaders in the technology, sports, film, and music industries.

James Earl Jones, actor perhaps most famous for voicing the original Darth Vader, attended the University of Michigan. 

So did Larry Page, a Google co-founder. 

Tom Brady went to 9 Super Bowls, and Madonna became one of the world’s top recording artists.

Former US President Gerald Ford attended Michigan as well.

4. One of America’s Most Important Film Festivals Is here

One of the nation’s best film festivals, the Ann Arbor film festival, attracts over 3,000 submissions every year for inclusion in its programming. In particular, independent and experimental films are staples of this annual festival.

The first event of this film festival in Ann Arbor was in 1963; because it is still operating, it is the 4th-oldest film festival in the country. 

Some icons who have made an appearance at the Ann Arbor Film Festival include George Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan, and Yoko Ono.

The Ann Arbor Film Festival actually serves as a qualifying festival for Academy Award consideration in the Short Films category. 

3. One of the World’s Most Revolutionary Cameras Was Created in Ann Arbor

photo by Camerafiend via Wikimedia Commons

The most popular camera of the 1940s and 1950s was the Argus C3, a favorite instrument of former President – and Michigan alum – Gerald Ford, as well as hundreds of thousands of others.

Everything about the camera was revolutionary: it was portable, easy to use, and took great quality pictures considering the technology of the time period. Best of all, it was a low price entryway into a photography market that was more expensive back in the early 20th-century.

The C3 is well-known for documenting many of the most iconic images during World War II. Photographer Tony Vaccaro was 22 years old when he shot many of the most famous World War II photos that have since become widely circulated. Vaccaro is actually still alive today, by the way, at 96 years old.

Over 2 million units of this camera were sold in the mid-20th century.

2. Six Miles of Tunnels Exist Beneath the City’s Campus

Believe it or not, an underground tunnel system exists in Ann Arbor.

One student of the University of Michigan from the early 70s, known in Ann Arbor legend as “Tunnel Bob,” would go exploring throughout the tunnels on a regular basis. 

Although Tunnel Bob’s true identity is not known, he would explore the tunnels for miles with other students.

The tunnels are not intended for public use, and most likely will never be used for the public. However, the tunnels themselves remain part of the city’s legendary status.

1. The School Was Once Not Called the University of Michigan

Before it was known as the University of Michigan, this public university had a unique name: the very catchy Catholepistemiad.

Can you imagine telling your friends and family that you are a Wolverine who graduated from the Catholepistemiad? 

However, the name didn’t stick around for long – it changed by 1821, before any classes were ever held at the University of Michigan.

Those are 15 facts about Michigan – have any more to share? Let us know in the comments.

Featured Photo by AndrewHorne via Wikimedia Commons



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