Michigan

Encircle Michigan: Your drive across the Wolverine State begins in Grand Rapids. Then head east through Lansing, the capital city of Michigan, before exploring Ann Arbor, Dearborn and finally the Motor City of Detroit.

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1 Downtown Grand Rapids and Grand River in Grand Rapids, Michigan

The Grand Rapids’ skyline on the east bank of the Grand River is dominated by the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel (left) and the JW Marriott Grand Rapids (right). They are the city’s third and sixth tallest buildings. The city has a population of nearly 190,000 people. Among its native sons is former President Gerald Ford. Grand Rapids is nicknamed “Furniture City” for its historic lumbering and furniture manufacturing.

220 Front Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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2 Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Unlike other presidents, the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, while his library is 130 miles away in Ann Arbor on the campus of the University of Michigan. The later reflects his loyalty to the town where he was raised and also where he was voted the most valuable football player. This museum faces the Grand Rapids skyline. It includes a replica of his oval office, a Watergate gallery, plus 20,000 exhibits and artifacts from his life and political career.

303 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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3 President Ford Statue at Gerald Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Born as Leslie Lynch King Jr., Gerald Ford did not legally change his name to his mother’s second husband until she had been married to him for 19 years. Gerald Ford was the only Vice President and President of the United States not voted into either position. Although he had been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 24 years, his role in the Warren Commission positioned him for the first appointment after Spiro Agnew’s resignation. In 1974, he became president after Richard Nixon was driven from office by the Watergate Scandal. In 1975, I had the honor of hearing him as the commencement speaker at my graduation from the University of Pennsylvania.

303 Pearl St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
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4 Michigan State Capitol Building Dome in Lansing, Michigan

The first capital city of Michigan was Detroit. The second Michigan State Capitol was built in Lansing in 1847, ten years after becoming the 26th state. The third and current building was completed in 1878. This handsome structure was designed by Elijah Myers. He was also the architect for Texas and Colorado capitols. This brilliant white, cast iron dome and spire rise 267 feet. Its architectural style is Renaissance Revival.

100 N Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48933
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5 Michigan State Capitol Rotunda Dome in Lansing, Michigan

Many state capitols are filled with symbolism and the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing is a beautiful example. Staring up 160 feet from the rotunda floor reveals the 44 foot wide, interior dome with eight delicate paintings from 1886. They are muses from Greek and Roman mythology representing art, agriculture, law, science, justice, industry, commerce and education.

100 N Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48933
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6 Michigan State Capitol Rotunda Gallery of Governors in Lansing, Michigan

The second and third levels of the rotunda at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing are the Gallery of Governors. The floors showcase portraits of the last 14 governors who held office. Seen here is Jennifer Granholm. She was the state’s first and only female governor. Also interesting is the heavily scratched portrait of John Swainson (not shown). The intentional defacing symbolizes his belief that his job was not finished after one term.

100 N Capitol Ave, Lansing, MI 48933
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7 Fairy Door in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ann Arbor is synonymous with the term “college town,” thanks to the large presence of the University of Michigan. The city is also known for its liberal politics, the decriminalization of marijuana and its fairy doors. Yup, fairy doors. These are tiny doors found in the baseboards inside and outside of retail buildings. The portals require you to get on your knees for a close inspection. The custom is to make a contribution of coins or other small objects. This one contains a “fairy gift store” inside it. Maps are available if you want to find them all.

210 S Main St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
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8 Abe Lincoln Assassination Chair at Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan

At the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, are hundreds of exhibits chronicling early American life with historic artifacts. One of the most interesting is this rocking chair protected by a glass case. President Abraham Lincoln was sitting in it at Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C. when he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865. The chair was purchased by Henry Ford in 1929 for $2,400. The museum also contains the limo where John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Henry Ford Museum, W Village Rd, Dearborn, MI 48124
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9 Renaissance Center and General Motors Headquarters in Detroit, Michigan

In 1970, Henry Ford II had a dream to renew downtown Detroit. He formed a private company to begin building what are now seven glass skyscrapers along the International Riverfront called the Renaissance Center. The five-and-a-half million square feet are home to General Motors headquarters and the 73 story, 1,300 rooms Detroit Marriott.

Renaissance Dr W & Atwater St, Detroit, MI 48207
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10 Maggie Simpson Mural and Empty Brandy Bottle in Detroit, Michigan

The Farwell Building in downtown Detroit was built in 1915 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Despite its historic value, the structure has remained vacant since 1984. As a result, the decaying property became a canvas for graffiti. An example is this image of Maggie Simpson with a red pacifier in her mouth and a can of spray paint in her hand. Beneath her other hand is a real empty bottle of brandy.

1249 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226
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11 American Coney Island Restaurant in Detroit, Michigan

The Coney Island hot dog is not from New York. It was invented at the American Coney Island restaurant in Detroit, Michigan. This calorie-laden banquet consists of a beef hot dog, beanless chili, chopped onions and a perfectly placed stripe of yellow mustard. This is my wife being served at the original counter with a side of fries. Yum! This meal is wonderful yet messy, so a napkin is mandatory.

114 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48226
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12 Humpback Whale Mural on Broderick Tower by Wyland in Detroit, Michigan

In 1997, Wyland painted this “Whale Tower.” The artwork measures 65 feet wide by 180 feet tall on the David Broderick Tower in Detroit, Michigan. The mural was unfortunately covered by an advertisement during the 2006 World Series. However, it is again visible to Detroit’s theater patrons and sports fans.

10 Witherell St, Detroit, MI 48226
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13 Tiger Sculpture at North Gate of Comerica Tiger Field in Detroit, Michigan

While walking up to the Comerica Tiger Field in Detroit, Michigan, there is no question about the name of the baseball team that plays here: Tiger sculptures are everywhere. This one at the North Gate is 15 feet tall. Several more grace the façade. Atop the left field scoreboard are two tigers whose eyes light up after every home run. The statues were designed by Michael Keropian and built by SlowMotion, Inc.

Witherell St & E Columbia St, Detroit, MI 48201
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14 Detroit Lions Minnesota Vikings Football Game at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan

A 2013 Harris Interactive survey discovered 45% of participants ranked football as their favorite sport. The professional level was ranked number one and college was number three. In addition to all of those who attend, there are about 17 million television viewers and an audience of over 100 million for a Super Bowl game. My wife and I were just two of those fans. We watched at the Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, as the Lions beat the Vikings, our home-town team.

2000 Brush St, Detroit, MI 48226
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15 Three Strutting Men Mural on Serman’s Clothing Building in Detroit, Michigan

These three strutting, well-dressed men are part of six adorning the side of Sherman’s Clothing building. Since 1917, this retailer has been dressing the men and boys of Detroit, Michigan. Sadly, Steven Ross, the founder’s grandson, announced the store’s closing in June of 2013. This marked the end of the 96 year-old family business.

1236 Randolph Street, Detroit, MI 48226
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16 Hitsville USA Motown Museum in Detroit, Michigan

In 1959, Berry Gordy purchased 2648 West Grand Boulevard (left) in Detroit, Michigan. He formed a recording studio called “Hitsville U.S.A.” By the mid-1960s, Motown records occupied seven more houses, including the one on the right. Music stars he created included The Miracles, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Jackson 5, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight & the Pips plus many others. It is now a museum offering tours of where so much wonderful music was produced for 13 years.

2650 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48208
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