Saturday, November 15, 2014

Images Of America: Downtown Ann Arbor

I bought a preview copy of Patti Smith's new book on the history of downtown Ann Arbor, and I finally had a chance to read the book cover-to-cover this morning. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Patti's been working on the book since the summer of 2013, and she got the first physical copies of the book at the beginning of this month. I asked her what inspired her to write the book, and rather than rewrite her answer in my own words I'll just quote her:
I absolutely love Ann Arbor. As cheesy as this sounds, I was raised to give back to things, not take them for granted, and I didn't know how to give back to the city that I love and that seems to have accepted me. I'm not a politician, not a businessperson, not a musician…but I've always been a good writer. So I looked at some of the excellent books that have already been written (notably by Susan Wineburg and Grace Shackman) and sent a query letter to their publisher. A few months later, we had a book contract!
Mayor (or, now, former Mayor) John Hieftje wrote a nice foreword to the book, which features just over a hundred pages of historical photographs and commentary.

I spent hours today reading through pages of anecdotes, mentally placing old photos atop my mental map of downtown, and jotting down notes for further research. And I learned a lot; somehow I didn’t even know there's a bandshell in West Park!

The stories accompanying the photos provide a fascinating look into Ann Arbor's earlier days; I absolutely loved reading about the businesses, citizens, parades, train crashes, fires, parks, fights, and day-to-day life in this town a century ago.

Though the book focuses on downtown, there's also a section dedicated to “Kerrytown, Lower Town, and Near Downtown” (wherein I learned a bit about the history of that land across the railroad tracks from the Amtrak station).

And of course I enjoyed the shout-out to the #a2council crowd on page 54 :)

A huge thanks goes to the Bentley Historical Library, whose archives were very helpful for Patti.

We've noted that there'll be a launch party Monday at 7pm, and this Wednesday, Nov. 19 there will be a signing at Grange Kitchen & Bar! I'll be at both these events; hope to see you there.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks SO much! Other than my parents, I don't know if anyone has read the thing :) I will see you this week!