Traverse City is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is the largest city in the 21-county Northern Michigan region. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 14,532 with a 2006 estimate placing the population at 14,407. In 2006, the Traverse City micropolitan area was estimated to have a population of 142,046. It is the county seat of Grand Traverse County although a small portion lies in Leelanau County. Despite its modest population, Traverse City, especially its downtown, functions as the major commercial nexus for a seven-county area totaling over 2,700 square miles (7,000 km²) and, along with cross-peninsula counterpart Alpena, is one of Northern Lower Michigan’s two anchor cities.
Traverse City is the self-proclaimed Cherry Capital of the World, holding an annual week-long Cherry Festival the first full week in July to celebrate. Besides cherries, the surrounding Tuscany-like countryside produces grapes, and is one of the centers of wine production in the Midwest. Tourism, both summer and winter, is another key industry. Freshwater beaches, a mild summer climate, upscale golf resorts, vineyards, a nearby National Lakeshore, prodigious snowfall, nearby ski resorts and thousands of square miles of surrounding forests make Traverse City (based on AAA’s 2005 TripTik requests) the second most popular tourist destination in the state behind Mackinaw City. In addition, the historic downtown area of Traverse City is the home of many shops, restaurants, and offices. Traverse City is a home rule charter city under the Home Rule Cities Act, incorporated on May 18, 1895. The city is governed by six commissioners and a mayor, elected at-large. Together they comprise a seven-member legislative body. An appointed city manager serves as chief executive for city operations.
Traverse City is named after the Grand Traverse Bay, which the city heads. The bay earned its name from 18th century French voyagers who made la grande traverse or “the long crossing” across the mouth of the bay Grand Traverse Bay
In 1847, Captain Boardman of Naperville, Illinois, purchased the land at the mouth of the Boardman River at the head of the west arm of the bay. During that year the captain, his son, and their employees built a dwelling and sawmill near the mouth of the river. In 1851 the Boardmans sold the sawmill to Hannah, Lay & Co (Perry Hannah, Albert Tracy Lay and James Morgan), who improved the mill greatly. The increased investment in the mill attracted additional settlers to the new community.
As of 1853, the only operating post office in the Grand Traverse Bay region was the one located at Old Mission, which was then known as “Grand Traverse.” While in Washington, D.C. in 1852, Mr. Lay had succeeded in getting the U.S. Post Office to authorize a new post office at his newer settlement. As the newer settlement had become known as “Grand Traverse City,” Lay proposed this name for its post office, but the USPS clerk suggested dropping the “Grand,” in the name, as to limit confusion between this new office and the one at nearby Old Mission. Mr. Lay agreed to the name “Traverse City” for the post office, and the village took on this name.
Traverse City has the typical northern Michigan climate: Cold winters and warm summers. Traverse City can have snowfall as late as May or as early as September. Traverse City’s record high temperature is 105 °F (41 °C), and its record low temperature is −37 °F (−38 °C), on February 17, 1979. Traverse City also gets a lot of lake-effect snow.
The city sits at the head of Grand Traverse Bay, a long protected water of Lake Michigan. The city sits at the base of the Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas. The Boardman River forms Boardman Lake in the city before draining into the Bay.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.7 square miles (22.5 km²), of which, 8.4 square miles (21.8 km²) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.8 km²) of it (3.45%) is water.
It is considered to be part of Northern Michigan.
As of the census of 2000, there were 14,532 people, 6,443 households, and 3,485 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,728.7 per square mile (667.2/km²). There were 6,842 housing units at an average density of 813.9/sq mi (314.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.00% White, 0.65% African American, 0.98% Native American, 0.50% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.48% from other races, and 1.36% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.67% of the population.
There were 6,443 households out of which 24.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.7% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.9% were non-families. 35.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.15 and the average family size was 2.82.
In the city the population was spread out with 20.3% under the age of 18, 10.8% from 18 to 24, 29.6% from 25 to 44, 24.1% from 45 to 64, and 15.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 90.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $37,330, and the median income for a family was $46,912. Males had a median income of $31,587 versus $22,512 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,247. About 4.8% of families and 8.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.2% of those under age 18 and 7.9% of those age 65 or over.
The National Cherry Festival, held during the first full week of July every year, is the main tourist draw to Traverse City. The festival features parades, fireworks, live music, and cherries. It is estimated that the Grand Traverse region produces up to 360,000,000 pounds of cherries annually. The largest variety of cherry produced is the Montmorency cherry, or the “pie cherry”. Other cherries grown in the region include the Ulster, or sweet cherry, and the Balaton (from Lake Balaton in Hungary), a cherry situated between the Montmorency and Ulster in terms of color and taste.
Traverse City is also a popular destination for boating, sailing, kayaking, wine tasting, and tourists wishing to see autumn colors in bus-driven “color tours.” Numerous golf and ski resorts nearby bring in large numbers of tourists. Among these are Mt. Holiday and Hickory Hills. Mt. Holiday has two chair lifts, while Hickory hosts only tow ropes.
The Old Mission Peninsula is a great place to sea kayak. One gets close to shore, lighthouse, picnic grounds and parks. The bay offers a shelter from the prevailing westerly winds and from the Lake Michigan waves.
The small Traverse City State Park, with about 250 campsites, is located some three miles (4.8 km) east of downtown on 47 acres (19 hectares) including a quarter mile beach on the East Bay arm of Grand Traverse Bay.
The Leelanau Peninsula north of Traverse City contains many attractions and areas of interest, including the Leelanau Sands Casino in Peshawbestown, Fountain Point and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
The inaugural Traverse City Film Festival was held July 27–31, 2005, in venues around downtown Traverse City, including a theater renovated by film festival volunteers. First-run feature and documentaries were screened, panel discussions were planned and free family movies at the Open Space were scheduled. A driving force of the Traverse City Film Festival is Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore. The following two years have seen a significant increase in the popularity of the film festival.
The city was also home to Clover, a Christian dance music festival, in August 2006. The city is also home to Turtle Creek Casino and Resort, a Native American run casino with hotel.
Traverse City’s central business district is located along Front Street downtown. Another major shopping district is on US-31 southwest of town, where several big box stores are located, as well as two shopping malls: the Grand Traverse Mall, anchored by Target, JCPenney, Macy’s and TJ Maxx, and the Horizon Outlets, a factory outlet center. Another mall, Cherryland Center, is located on Garfield Avenue on the south end of town; this mall features Kmart, Younkers, and Sears.
Traverse City is home to a minor league baseball team, the Traverse City Beach Bums, who play at Wuerfel Park. The Beach Bums are a member of the independent Frontier League. The Traverse City North Stars are Junior “A” level hockey club (member of the North American Hockey League), and they play at the Centre I.C.E. hockey arena. Traverse City also hosts the training camp for the Detroit Red Wings NHL hockey team. Traverse City is the home of the Traverse Bay Blues Rugby Football Club, established in 1973.
The Interlochen Arts Festival, held at various venues at the campus of the Interlochen Center for the Arts, features concerts, plays, art exhibits, readings, and dance productions by students and guest artists. The Arts festival has both a summer and winter series.
The Traverse City Film Festival, founded by Michael Moore, takes place every summer. The five day event showcases notable rare independent films and documentaries, as well as discussion boards with directors, actors and others involved with the film industry. In 2007, the film festival acquired the historic State Theater, which it fully restored, re-opening on November 17, 2007 for year round screenings.
The beginning of fall brings about the Festival of the Senses, a city-wide festival with events designed to stimulate all five of the senses. The festival features art exhibitions, music and theater. A centerpiece of the festival is the Epicurean Classic, an event which includes classes, wine and cheese tasting, dinner and the opportunity to mingle with some of America’s most influential chefs, wine experts and cookbook authors.
The City Opera House, located in downtown Traverse City features plays, movies, and other performances.
The Dennos Museum Center, located on the campus of Northwestern Michigan College, is home to a collection of Inuit art including sculpture, drawing and prints. The center is also home to a children’s museum, as well as various ongoing exhibitions in their large exhibition space.
Two major arts groups are active in Traverse City. The Traverse City Art Center offers art classes, a small exhibition space, and year-round member art shows. The Traverse City Art Works Alliance is a member-based arts group, founded by local artist Charly Hansen in 2005. The goal of the Art Works Alliance is to organize events and shows which feature the talents of the region’s artists.
Traverse City is also home to many notable and eclectic galleries. Gallery Fifty, located in the recently restored Building 50 of the former Traverse City State Hospital, highlights the work of many new and emerging artists from across North America. The Insideout Gallery, located in Traverse City’s warehouse district, focuses on Midwest urban, underground and Lowbrow art, as well as having an excellent venue for film and musical performances. Located in downtown Traverse City, the Belstone Gallery showcases more contemporary art work, including glass and metal work, fine art, pottery, and more.
There are twelve recognized Michigan historical markers in Traverse City. They are:
* Bingham District No. 5 Schoolhouse
* City Opera House
* Congregation Beth El
* Grand Traverse Bay
* Grand Traverse County Courthouse
* Great Lakes Sport Fishery
* Greensky Hill Mission
* Ladies Library Association
* Novotny’s Saloon
* Park Place Hotel
* Torrent House
* Traverse City Regional Psychiatric Hospital