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Traverse City ( ) is a city in the U.S. state of Michiganmarker. It is the county seat of Grand Traverse Countymarker, although a small portion extends into Leelanau Countymarker. It is the largest city in the 21-county Northern Michigan region. The population was 14,532 at the 2000 census. In 2008, the Traverse City micropolitan area was estimated to have a population of 142,316. Despite its modest population, Traverse City functions as the major commercial nexus for a seven-county area totaling over and, along with cross-peninsula counterpart Alpenamarker, is one of Northern Lower Michigan's two anchor cities.

Traverse City is the "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 Citymarker. 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 Baymarker, which the city heads. The bay earned its name from 18th century Frenchmarker voyagers who made la grande traverse or "the long crossing" across the mouth of the Grand Traverse Bay

In 1847, Captain Boardman of Naperville, Illinoismarker, 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 Missionmarker, which was then known as "Grand Traverse." While in Washington, D.C.marker 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 , and its record low temperature is , on February 17, 1979. Traverse City also gets a lot of lake-effect snow.


Boardman River between downtown Traverse City and Grand Traverse Bay
The city sits at the head of Grand Traverse Baymarker, a long protected water of Lake Michiganmarker. The city sits at the base of the Leelanaumarker and Old Mission Peninsulasmarker. 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.

White Black Other
96.00% 0.65% 3.35%

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.




NM3 Northern Michigan Men's Magazine is a four color glossy local lifestyle magazine with content for both men and women and is distributed free throughout the region to its 25,000 readers monthly.

The Traverse City Record-Eagle is northwest lower Michigan's daily newspaper. It is circulated in the thirteen counties surrounding the city. In December 2006 it was sold by Ottaway Newspapers Inc., the community newspaper subsidiary of Dow Jones & Company to Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. (CNHI). It is the newspaper of record for Grand Traverse County.

Daily editions of the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, and Grand Rapids Press also are available on news stands throughout the region (Northern Express Weekly) is the largest weekly newspaper in Northern Michigan, with distribution of up to 30,000 copies in 13 counties. It is owned and published by George Foster and Robert Downes.

The Grand Traverse Area's only women's magazine Grand Traverse Woman Magazine serves women who live, work and play in Northern Michigan. ]

The Traverse City Business News, a monthly newspaper and news email service, serves readers throughout the Grand Traverse region.

Traverse, a monthly covers nature, food, events, restaurants, recreation and lifestyle in Northern Michigan.

At least seven national magazines are published in Traverse City, including Thirdeye Magazine, a bi-monthly periodical focusing on social and political issues as well as art, and Traverse, published monthly with a focus on regional interests. Village Press Inc. is based in Traverse City. It publishes the Home Shop Machinist, Live Steam and Outdoor Railroading, Machinists' Workshop, Just Labs, Pointing Dog Journal, Retriever Journal and Twin and Turbine Magazines.


Traverse City is the largest city in the Traverse City-Cadillac-Sault Ste. Marie Designated Market Area, the largest television market in area east of the Mississippi River. Accordingly, most stations in this vast region are broadcast simultaneously on widely-spaced transmitters on separate channels.

Traverse City has two television stations licensed directly to the city: Additionally, WGTU operates a CW Plus station on its second digital subchannel and Northern Michigan cable television systems:
  • Channel 61: WGTU-DT2 "Northern Michigan's CW" (The CW) *** The CW 61 channel is no longer in operation in Traverse City (as of June 2009)

The city also has a low power rebroadcast transmitter of Mount Pleasant'smarker PBS affiliate, WCMU-TVmarker, operating on channel 46 (W46AD).

Stations licensed to nearby Cadillacmarker are considered local to Traverse City:
  • Channel 9: WWTVmarker "9 & 10 News" (CBS) (simulcasted on channel 10, Goetzville, MI in the eastern U.P.)
  • Channel 32: WFQX-TVmarker "Fox 32" (Fox)

Fox's sister network, MyNetworkTV, did not have an affiliate in the region when it launched back in September 2006. That changed at some point in 2008 when WLLZ-LPmarker channel 12 added the network. This station also airs programming from America One and The Sportsman Channel.

Cable television service is provided within Traverse City and many outlying communities by Charter Communications. Public access programming is provided on channel 2.


The Traverse City area is the primary hub for all of Northern Michigan's radio media. Traverse City is the home of the most powerful and most listened to station in Northern Michigan - WTCM News/Talk 580 AM . Other talk stations in the Traverse City area include WJML and WMKT. There are 16 Commercial radio stations in a variety of typical commercial radio formats.

Traverse City has 2 Religious radio stations; W201CM (a Translator at 88.1) and WLJN AM/FM 89.9FM and 1400AM

Interlochen Center for the Artsmarker's NPR member station Interlochen Public Radio. it serves a large portion of Northwest Lower Michigan via two stations:


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 Balatonmarker in Hungarymarker), 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 the Grand Traverse Resort just North in Acme, MImarker, Mt. Holiday and Hickory Hills. Mt. Holiday has two chair lifts, while Hickory hosts only tow ropes.

The locale and topography is conducive for bicycling. A map with routes, different trips, advice and local knowledge is available.

The Old Mission Peninsulamarker 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. Maps, rentals and guided tours are available.

The small Traverse City State Parkmarker, 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 Peninsulamarker north of Traverse City contains many attractions and areas of interest, including the Leelanau Sands Casino in Peshawbestownmarker, Fountain Point and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshoremarker.

There are over 50 wineries in the Traverse City/northwestern lower Michigan area.[23175] Most offer free wine tasting. Due to the sandy soil with its good drainage, several vintners have produced award winning Reislings and Pinot Grigios.

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.Just east of the City, in the village of Williamsburg, is Turtle Creek Casino and Hotel, a Native American run casino with hotel.

Interlochen, a small town about 19 miles from Traverse City, is the home to the world-famous Interlochen Arts Academy, which many celebrities have attended. The town is mainly forest, with a few lakes. A variety of activities such as color-tours, White-Tail deer hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, biking, boating, scenic drives, sunsets, bird-watching, swimming, diving, snorkeling and others are possible.

Psycho Path was named the wackiest street name according to a 2006 poll by Car Connection website.


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'smarker, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, 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.

Professional sports

Traverse City is home to two semi-professional sports teams. The Traverse City Beach Bums are a minor league baseball team who play their home games at Wuerfel Parkmarker in nearby Blair Township, Michiganmarker. The Beach Bums are a member of the independent Frontier League. The Traverse City Wolves are a semi-professional football team who play their home games at the Traverse City Central High School track and field stadium. The Wolves are a member of the North American Football League in the Great Lakes region of the Northern Conference.

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 city also hosts the Traverse City Prospects Tournament, an annual tournament displaying young NHL prospects from select NHL teams.

Arts and culture

The Interlochen Arts Festival, held at various venues at the campus of the Interlochen Center for the Artsmarker, 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.

The City Opera Housemarker, 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 several eclectic galleries.

Historical markers

Historic postcard of Building 50, circa 1930
There are thirteen recognized Michigan historical markers in Traverse City. They are:



Ships and boats

  • Adjacent to the airport is Coast Guard Air Station Traverse Citymarker , responsible for both maritime and land-based search and rescue operations in the northern Great Lakesmarker region.
  • Located in the harbor of the Great Lakes Maritime Academy is the T/S State of Michigan, a 224' former Navy submarine surveillance vessel. The vessel is used as a classroom and laboratory while cadets of the Academy are underway and shore side.
  • A tall ship, the Schooner Manitou is berthed at Traverse City, and offers passages to the public.
  • Near Traverse City are two other tall ships, the Schooner Madeline and the long replica of the sloop Welcome, an 18th century British warship) sloop, which was built for the 1976 Bicentennial of the American Revolution. They are the only two boats recognized by the State of Michigan for their Historic Significance. From May through October, trained volunteers conduct tours (when in port), and give a history of the boats and Great Lakes sailing. The Madeline is berthed at Elmwood Township "Coal Dock" (Heritage Harbor) - West Bayshore, just south of the Elmwood Township Marina Both are maintained by the Maritime Heritage Alliance.
  • The Nauticat, a 43 passenger catamaran books passages on Grand Traverse bay.

Public transportation

Traverse City also has a public transportation system, the Bay Area Transportation Authority (BATA) which serves most of the Grand Traverse region with dial-a-ride services and a bus service, called the Cherriot, serves Traverse City and the urbanized areas of Garfield Township. BATA recently revealed its first hybrid bus in December, 2005. BATA recently completed a downtown bus transfer terminal on Hall St. , which opened July 21, 2006. The terminal is used to transfer riders to different buses on different routes. BATA Cherriot Bus System Map

Major highways

US-31 runs for in a northerly direction from the Indiana-Michigan state line southwest of Niles to its terminus at I-75 south of Mackinaw City. From Traverse City, it runs west across the base of the Leelanau peninsula to Benzoniamarker before continuing south to Muskegonmarker and other points on the Lake Michigan shore. Northwards, it continues along the east shore of Grand Traverse Bay to Charlevoixmarker and Petoskeymarker, ending just before reaching Mackinaw Citymarker and the Mackinac Bridgemarker.
M-22 follows the Lake Michigan shoreline around the Leelanau Peninsula, providing a scenic drive.
M-37 runs almost due south through the Manistee National Forest to Grand Rapidsmarker. It continues north up Old Mission Peninsula to end at Old Mission Point in the middle of Grand Traverse Bay.
M-72 passes east-west through the city and is one of three true highways that crosses the lower peninsula from Lake Michiganmarker to Lake Huronmarker. M-72 connects with Empiremarker and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshoremarker west and with US-131, east in Kalkaskamarker.


The Great Lakes Central (GLC) provides freight rail service to the Traverse City area on track owned by the state of Michigan. The tracks were once owned by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (ex-Pere Marquette Railway) and the Pennsylvania Railroad (ex-Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad) but were purchased by the state in the late 1970s and early 1980s to preserve rail service in the area. Current freight traffic includes fruit/perishables, scrap metal, and lumber.

Regular intercity passenger train service ended on October 29, 1966, after the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) discontinued Grand Rapids - Traverse City - Bay Viewmarker service. Since then, excursion passengers trains have operated in and out of Traverse City on an irregular basis. Recently, Lake Central Rail Tours has operated a summer excursion during the Cherry Festival. On May 11, 1996, the Grand Traverse Dinner Train began year round service from the Traverse City depot to Williamsburgmarker and to Walton Junctionmarker. Unfortunately, dinner train service was suspended in 2004 after a derailment and the company entered into a bitter contract dispute with the Tuscola and Saginaw Bay Railway. The train itself was removed to Owosso in mid-July 2006.

Other affiliations

Notable people

Traverse City is the birthplace of several celebrities: It also is, or has been, the residence of:

See also


  2. See the entry for September 19 on Ben Scott, Schott's Miscellany Calendar 2009 (New York: Workman Publishing Company, 2008).


Further reading

External links

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