Webster's Unabridged Dictionary gives the definition of a city as "an incorporated municipality, usually governed by a mayor and a board of aldermen or councilmen." This production, while not denying the veracity of this definition, attempts to create a greater definition of a city by means of a historical study of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Our goal is to show how Ann Arbor is not simply a collection of buildings and roads, but, like a tree, it is a living being that has "gripped the ground" and established itself as one of the most unique cities ever to be built, and ever to live.


Though one cannot deny the significant inanimate element of a city, much, if not most of what makes Ann Arbor the city it is today has been and continues to be the product of the labor and love of its inhabitants. The transition from the first roughly drawn plot lines on a map to the 100,000+ person community that has one of the largest Research Universities in the nation is one that has taken much time and effort on the part of its ever-growing populace. Thus, while our study will indeed be the study of the history of Ann Arbor, we will stress the humanistic elements of its history in an effort to create a larger definition of the city as not only an "incorporated municipality," but as a place of life and human activity, where the city is an animate being, formed by the lives of its past and present residents. As such, our project will take on a narrative form, in an attempt to tell the story of this city, of this life.


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