Posts of interest to local history buffs, written by local history buffs!

Lookback Time: The Detroit Observatory

observatoryobservatory

In Seeing In The Dark, author Timothy Ferris writes, "Peering far into space means looking deep into time gone by. This phenomenon, known as 'lookback time,' makes historians of stargazers." Historians and stargazers alike can enjoy a look back in time to 1854 by visiting the Detroit Observatory at 1398 E. Ann St. In its day, the Observatory housed the first large telescope constructed in the United States, for years the third largest refractor in the world. It was the training ground for many 19th century astronomers, saw the discovery of 21 asteroids and 2 comets, and remains the most important physical legacy of the University's early scientific preeminence. "I cannot speak of the Observatory without emotion," said former UM president Henry Tappan. "No one will deny that it was a creation of my own." (Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, MI)

Although the dome is currently not operational, rendering the telescope unusable, the Observatory was fully restored in 1998 and the astronomical instruments remain intact and operational. Read more about the Observatory's legacy and watch for upcoming open houses in conjunction with UM's winter theme semester.

New online collection profiles the founders of Ann Arbor

Henry FriezeHenry Frieze

AADL is pleased to present a new collection, The Ford Gallery of Ann Arbor Founders, based on the permanent exhibit located in the Michigan Theater. You can browse the exhibit panels, which include such topics as early settlers, women who made a mark on the community, and the people who made the parks. Click on any image for a larger view or "read this panel" for a text-only version. You can also browse all the founders by name and search the collection by keyword. The permanent exhibit was funded by the Ford Motor Company Fund, with the cooperation of the Michigan Theater and the Bentley Historical Library.

A History of U of M's Medical School

Dr. CowieDr. Cowie

Join us Sunday, November 16, from 2-4 p.m. in the Downtown Library's Multi-Purpose Room for a talk by Dr. David Bloom on the history of the University of Michigan Medical School. In preparation, consider taking a look at some of our online collections, including this panel about the history of medicine in Ann Arbor from our new online collection of Ann Arbor Founders, or search for the term 'medical school' in The Making of the University of Michigan, 1817-1992.

Ann Arbor, circa 1968

bike loversbike lovers

On Thursday, UM will celebrate its heyday as a center of social activism in the late 1960s with a panel discussion on the social protests of 1968, beginning at 4:00 p.m., and a performance by Country Joe at 8:00 p.m.

These events accompany an exhibit from UM's Labadie collection titled "The Whole World Was Watching: Protest and Revolution in 1968," currently on view in the Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery. Other photographs of Ann Arbor during this period, such as this one can be found at site 15 of the Downtown Ann Arbor Historical Street Exhibit program.

The history of South University

mademoisellemademoiselle

This week the Downtown Ann Arbor Historical Street Exhibit will dedicate four new wall displays that tell the story of South University from the late 19th century through today. The displays cover area businesses and images include a wonderful 1898 panorama of the area, Miller's Ice Cream, C-Ted's Standard gas station, Tice's Men's Shop and a glimpse of the home where philosopher and educator John Dewey lived. The dedication will take place Thursday, November 6, at 5:00 p.m. on the corner of South and East University.

New Additions to Ann Arbor Historical Signs Collection

Standard Oil, 1973Standard Oil, 1973

The Ann Arbor Historical Signs Collection in pictureAnnArbor just got bigger. We've recently added over 100 new photos, bringing our portrait of 1970's Ann Arbor up to 570 images. These new additions include many businesses from Main, Maple, and East Liberty. We've also reorganized the collection to help you browse through all of the photos more easily. If you happen to want to look at a specific street or find a specific business, just enter those words into our Image Gallery Search at the bottom of any image gallery page and see what pops up.

Ann Arbor Historical Signs is a collection of photographs taken by the Ann Arbor Sign Inspector. Mostly taken in the 1970's, the collection gives a rich picture of the businesses and goings-on in Ann Arbor 35 years ago.

Catalogue of the Ann Arbor High School, 1904-05

a2 high school library

The full view (text and images) of hundreds of books on Ann Arbor history are now available through Google books, including Catalogue of the Ann Arbor High School, 1904-1905. The above photo, of the interior of the Ann Arbor Public Library, first appeared in the Ann Arbor High School catalogue of 1909-1910. Google also delivers a History of Michigan published in 1841, A History of St. Andrew's Church published in 1906, and The City of Ann Arbor, by the Ann Arbor Business Men's Association, published in 1887.

More History on the Streets

germansgermans

The Downtown Ann Arbor Historical Street Exhibit will be unveiling three new plaques that expand on the history of the German community on Thursday, Oct. 2nd at 5 p.m. outside Sweetwaters Cafe at Washington & Ashley. The contributions of Germans to Ann Arbor are fully developed in the many books and articles available through the Making of Ann Arbor.

I Can't Believe These People!

skyline highskyline high

This week I managed to finagle my way into a very cool meeting at Skyline High School. The mission for the group was to figure out how to use the Downtown Ann Arbor Street Exhibit in the curriculum at the new high school. In the room were 11 community volunteers and five teachers from Skyline. Some of the teachers could only pop in for a moment because, well, they're teachers and if you know a teacher, then you know they are crazy busy.

Just so you know, most of the community volunteers who came are a) retired and b) former educators. Some of them have spent unspeakable hours conceiving of, raising money for, researching and promoting the Street Exhibit. They have rounded up over 60 Ann Arborites willing to donate their time to the cause of helping our kids make the connection between where we've been and where we are.

The energy in the room blew my mind. The teachers (Pam Jenkins totally rocks, by the way) were truly excited about figuring out how to make it work. The whole deal is not out of the standard high school playbook and everyone was totally into it. More on this later, but I can't believe these people. OK, I believe. I believe.

Ann Arbor YMCA celebrates 150 years

old ymca

This Sunday, September 28, from 2-5 p.m. the Ann Arbor YMCA will celebrate its 150th anniversary with a parade, music and other special events. The above image, from the Making of Ann Arbor postcard collection, is of an earlier Ann Arbor YMCA building. More photographs and documents relating to the history of the Ann Arbor Y are on display at the Museum on Main Street until November 22.

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