a progressive city with a funny name
Ypsilanti—generally referred to as “Ypsi” by the locals—was established as a village in 1823. Originally called Woodruff ’s Grove, our founders changed the name to Ypsilanti in 1825 in honor of General Demetrius Ypsilanti, a hero in the Greek war for independence. People have been struggling to pronounce the name of our fair city ever since. (It’s Ip’-si-lan- ti by the way.)
It has been said that Ypsilanti is the Brooklyn to Ann Arbor’s Manhattan. Despite Ann Arbor’s reputation in the region as a bohemian cultural center, many creative people have been flocking to Ypsilanti to live and work. A vibrant underground arts scene has begun to emerge as a result of less expensive land values and more affordable housing options.
Young families who are just discovering Ypsi are breathing new life into the city, putting down roots, investing in the community, and creating new traditions. Longtime Ypsilantians help preserve our rich heritage, which made this city what it is today. Finally, students from our hometown university (Eastern Michigan) continue to inject fresh ideas into our region.
Tucked away, in a little corner of Ypsi sits SPUR Studios—an art incubator that’s home to writers, painters, musicians, graphic designers, and a variety of other artists. The 30 spaces have been booked solid since the incubator opened in early 2010 speaking to the community’s homespun spirit. This creativity drives handmade and indie art festivals like the Shadow Art Fair and DIYpsi, where regional artists join our locals to put on the type of shows you can only find in Ypsi.
Friday night, Annie Palmer played an acoustic set at the Ugly Mug Cafe and Roastery. Saturday night saw the seven member folk- rock ensemble Jack & the Bear roll into town for a show at Woodruff ’s. Last December Cafe Ollie threw an end of the world party complete with a record swap and live music.
Well the world didn’t end and Ypsi’s music scene continues to thrive and morph as it always has. Leah Diehl from Lightning Love would say her first instinct would be to call Ypsi’s music scene mostly folk. “But there’s actually a big number of garage, pop, rap, and country groups.” It’s this type of variety that keeps people coming back to listen.
Maybe it’s the nearby university, maybe it’s the modest house prices, or maybe it’s in the water. Whatever the reason, innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship can easily be found around every corner in Ypsi. Sustainability ventures like Solar Ypsi and Growing Hope have made great strides over the past decade. In 2012, ten Ypsilanti solar installations were part of the National Solar Tour. Growing Hope—dedicated to improving lives and communities through gardening and healthy food access— continues work to improve our Downtown and Depot Town Farmers’ Markets all while offering educational opportunities and programs throughout the year.
SPARK East Business Incubator, located in Downtown Ypsilanti, has become a magnet for innovation-based businesses
of every size and description. Homegrown success has also thrived as evident with stories like Unity Vibration Kombucha Tea & Beer. What started as a small brewing operation run out of a living room in Ypsi’s historic east side neighborhood is now expanding to a full-on brewery this year.
The Ypsilanti area and its surrounding cities offer guests the chance to relax and sleep well in the many hotel and bed and breakfast options. Go ahead and search for the overnight stay that fits your budget and interest.