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Ann Arbor, Michigan

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Ann Arbor in Michigan.

 

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Ann Arbor is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Washtenaw County. The 2010 census places the population at 113,934, making it the sixth largest city in Michigan.

Culture

Many Ann Arbor cultural attractions and events are sponsored by the University of Michigan. Several performing arts groups and facilities are on the university's campus, as are museums dedicated to art, archaeology, and natural history and sciences. Founded in 1879, the University Musical Society is an independent performing arts organization that presents over 60 events each year, bringing international artists in music, dance, and theater. Regional and local performing arts groups not associated with the university include the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre, the Arbor Opera Theater, the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, the Ann Arbor Ballet Theater, the Ann Arbor Civic Ballet (established in 1954 as Michigan's first chartered ballet company), The Ark, and Performance Network Theatre, which operates a downtown theater and frequently offers new or nontraditional plays. Another unique piece of artistic expression in Ann Arbor is the fairy doors. These small portals are examples of installation art and can be found throughout the downtown area.

The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, located in a renovated and expanded historic downtown fire station, contains more than 250 interactive exhibits featuring science and technology. Multiple art galleries exist in the city, notably in the downtown area and around the University of Michigan campus. Aside from a large restaurant scene in the Main Street, South State Street, and South University Avenue areas, Ann Arbor ranks first among U.S. cities in the number of booksellers and books sold per capita. The Ann Arbor District Library maintains four branch outlets in addition to its main downtown building. The city is also home to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.

Several annual events—many of them centered on performing and visual arts—draw visitors to Ann Arbor. One such event is the Ann Arbor Art Fairs, a set of four concurrent juried fairs held on downtown streets, which began in 1960. Scheduled on Wednesday through Saturday in the third week of July, the fairs draw upward of half a million visitors. Another is the Ann Arbor Film Festival, held during the third week of March, which receives more than 2,500 submissions annually from more than 40 countries and serves as one of a handful of Academy Award–qualifying festivals in the United States. One event that is not related to visual and performing arts is Hash Bash, held on the first Saturday of April, ostensibly in support of the reform of marijuana laws. Until (at least) the successful passage of Michigan's medical marijuana law, the event had arguably strayed from its initial intent, although for years, a number of attendees have received serious legal responses due to marijuana use on University of Michigan property, which does not fall under the City's progressive and compassionate ticketing program.

Ann Arbor has a major scene for college sports, notably at the University of Michigan, a member of the Big Ten Conference. Several well-known college sports facilities exist in the city, including Michigan Stadium, the largest American football stadium in the world with a 109,901 seating capacity. The stadium is colloquially known as "The Big House." Crisler Arena and Yost Ice Arena play host to the school's basketball and ice hockey teams, respectively. Concordia University, a member of the NAIA, also fields sports teams.

For a period during the latter 1960s, the Ann Arbor vicinity acquired a greater recognition globally among certain fans of rock music, as the area included a number of popular groups which originated in Ann Arbor, were frequent visitors of Ann Arbor, or settled in the city or surrounding area. Among these were Detroit transplants MC5, as well as The Stooges, SRC, The Up, The Rationals and others. This trend continued with later groups such as The Cult Heroes, although the residual influences of the 1960s trendsetters are still evident in the city today.

A person from Ann Arbor is called an "Ann Arborite", and many long-time residents call themselves "townies". The city itself is often called A² ("A-squared") or A2 ("A two"), "The Deuce", "Ace Deuce" and, less commonly, Tree Town. With tongue-in-cheek reference to the city's liberal political leanings, some occasionally refer to Ann Arbor as The People's Republic of Ann Arbor or 25 square miles surrounded by reality, the latter phrase being adapted from Wisconsin Governor Lee Dreyfus's description of Madison, Wisconsin. In A Prairie Home Companion broadcast from Ann Arbor, Garrison Keillor described Ann Arbor as "a city where people discuss socialism, but only in the fanciest restaurants." Ann Arbor sometimes appears on citation indexes as an author, instead of a location, often with the academic degree MI, a misunderstanding of the abbreviation for Michigan.

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