Where does the beauty of Ann Arbor stop, and the Ypsi Ugly begin?

When you’re traveling down Washtenaw Avenue, heading toward Ypsilanti from Ann Arbor, at what point do you feel overwhelmed by the ugliness? At what point does it become clear to you that you’re no longer among the sophisticated intellectuals of Ann Arbor? Is there perhaps a particular house, storefront or other landmark that, every time you see it, makes you think, “There is no beauty from here on out”? Is there a point at which you just lock your doors and begin to weep like a baby?

These questions have been on my mind since earlier today, when I read the following comment on AnnArbor.com, in a thread about planned improvements along the Washtenaw Avenue corridor connecting Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.


I think it’s a great question, and I’m curious to know what people think… When do you feel as though you’ve crossed the dividing line between civilization and the hideous travesty that is Ypsilanti? Is it just as you pass Whole Foods? Is that when the helplessness sets in? I know that the accepted dividing line between our two communities is Carpenter Road, but where’s the real dividing line? At what point is beauty overtaken by the repulsive ugliness synonymous with Ypsilanti?

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  1. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    But not nearly as fun and rewarding.

  2. Brackinald Achery
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know… I’ve tried both, and I think not giving a shit is more fun and rewarding.

  3. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Yet you continue to spend large amounts of time here debating with people, so you have to still care a little, right? Besides, spreading Ypsi propaganda in A2 sounds like more fun than work.

  4. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    Oh, also, Murph, that post was brilliant. I love it.

  5. Brackinald Achery
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Yet you continue to spend large amounts of time here debating with people, so you have to still care a little, right?

    That’s what I’m comparing not giving a shit to.

  6. Dirtgrain
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    “Yet you continue to spend large amounts of time here debating with people, so you have to still care a little, right?”

    He could be arguing in his spare time.

  7. Peter Larson
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Don’t you people have anything better to do?

  8. blamecomehome
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    We could post pictures of blighted Ypsi buildings all over The Deuce.

    Pick ones (the empty buildings and crappy neglected rental houses) owned by AA residents who won’t fix them up, and won’t sell them as “someday when someone ELSE does something they will be worth more”.

  9. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted November 26, 2009 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    Clearly not. Though I am having fun at the
    Elbow Room.

  10. Dharma
    Posted November 26, 2009 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    This is a sort of silly question. I live in Ann arbor and like both cities, but the stretch between about Huron parkway and the ypsi water tower IS ugly (with exceptions, of course- bowling sign being one of them).

  11. Basic Bob
    Posted November 26, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    There are quite a few ugly parts. Pittsfield Township completely ignores their section between US-23 and Golfside that many people consider Ypsi. The township board only cares about the area with a Saline mailing address. The ugliest parts are at Platt Road, Washtenaw County Jail, K-mart, and the vacant lot next to Tio’s.

  12. Posted December 3, 2009 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I am sure you could do some good art project if you could tag Ann Arbor vehicles and map out where they go, and see if there is some psychographic boundary that is widely shared.

    The Wall Street Journal did this story about how the fortified fences between Eastern and Western Europe still divide deer herds there:


    “The fence is long gone, and the no-man’s land where it stood now is part of Europe’s biggest nature preserve. The once-deadly border area is alive with songbirds nesting in crumbling watchtowers, foxes hiding in weedy fortifications and animals not seen here for years, such as elk and lynx.

    But one species is boycotting the reunified animal kingdom: red deer. Herds of them roam both sides of the old NATO-Warsaw Pact border here but mysteriously turn around when they approach it. This although the deer alive today have no memory of the ominous fence.”

  13. Jacob
    Posted December 19, 2009 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    I don’t think the article had all that much to do with A2 vs. Ypsi. It was just stating the fact that Washtenaw is ugly. There’s a ton of good businesses on the street but its impossible to get from one strip mall to another without getting in a car. No sidewalks, crossing the street is impossible, etc. Did I mention its ugly as sin?

    When I first came to Ypsi to look for an apartment the hideousness of Washtenaw made me seriously reconsider where I was moving. I think its great that Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti are getting together to try plan something better for the area. The two cities compliment each other nicely and there’s no reason that the corridor between the two should be an eyesore.

  14. Posted March 31, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    The folks at AnnArbor.com are discussing this now too. You’ll love some of the comments following their article, which is titled “Are the entrances to Ann Arbor ugly? Some think so.”

  15. Gotherelastyear
    Posted July 8, 2010 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I can vouch for the fact that the AATA considers Ann Arbor to end at Arborland. The “Holiday Ride” and “Night Ride” service that allow people to continue commuting past the hours of AATA bus service ends at Arborland. Given the AATA hours for the #4 bus (especially on weekends: 6:35 pm on Saturdays and 6:05 on Sundays) this essentially limits all traffic crossing beyond this border of civilization to people traveling in cars. Even with the desire to walk/bike, there is no way to traverse the US 23 / Washtenaw intersection with a reasonable chance of survival. (Of course, the situation is only a little less dire heading East since the “sidewalk” is essentially non-existent, but I will limit my comments since the question was about the A2/Ypsi border).

    It is precisely for these reasons that my husband and I, young professionals who arrived in town early last fall and found a rental apartment in this “No-man’s land”, are electing to move into Ann Arbor “proper”. For the past many years we have elected to use mass transit and walk whenever we could. In the large city we were in previously, this was not an issue. Because Ann Arbor has a pretty good transit system, we decided to test our principles during our first year here and not bring our automobile cross-country. While I’m not sure how much longer that will last (it did get a mite chilly waiting for a bus in what I was told was not a blizzard), we are going to do what we can by getting away from Washtenaw Ave east of Arborland. (And, for the record, we’re moving to North Ann Arbor).

  16. Elf
    Posted July 8, 2010 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    If you read this site, you know where you belong, and it’s not Ann Arbor.

  17. R.A.
    Posted November 28, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    There’s not a visual marker. It’s a smell. The smell of desperation.

  18. Lovely
    Posted September 22, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Draw a line from Whole Foods to the upscale outdoor shopping mall just build across Washtenaw from it. That’s your line.

2 Trackbacks

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    […] Murphy up to the front page for a while now. The comment was left several months ago, during our last big debate on boundary issues. Contributing to the fuzzy boundaries is the number of different definable boundaries […]

  2. By OK, so I guess it’s called yarn bombing on July 6, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    […] of Ypsi’s Cafe Luwak. The other, featured in the following video clip, was on a fence along the Ypsi/Arbor corridor of Washtenaw Ave, right across from Whole Foods. I think it’s cool, but, personally, […]

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