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Ann Arbor 200

Aerial Updates: Ann Arbor from Above, Then and Now

Year
2024

Starting in the late 1940s, the editors of the Ann Arbor News realized that one of the best ways to illustrate how the city was growing and changing was via aerial photography.  Images were often taken to illustrate specific projects: the building of the new Washtenaw County Courthouse around the old, a view of University of Michigan graduation ceremonies, a newly-completed major construction project.  Some of them may have had a specific purpose that is lost to us now, or perhaps were just additional photos taken while the photographer was a few thousand feet in the air.  The AADL Archives has digitized hundreds of these photos from the Ann Arbor News photographic negative collection.  Regardless of the reasons they were taken, today they offer a glimpse of Ann Arbor's past very different from others, taking in both the fascinating and the mundane.  

Some of AADL Archives's favorite aerials are presented here along with matching aerials we had taken over the past year.  Some pairs represent little change, others a large enough shift that only the street layouts or a few key buildings signify to us that what we are viewing are the same locations.

 

Aerial View Of North Central Ann Arbor, March 1956, Ann Arbor News / Aerial View Of North Central Ann Arbor, April 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - This view looking northwest has Detroit Street cutting across the street grid up to Broadway Bridge with the Ann Arbor Railroad bridge near Argo Dam in the background.

 

Aerial View Of Stadium Boulevard Between Liberty Street & Jackson Avenue, March 1951, Ann Arbor News / Aerial View Of Stadium Boulevard Between Liberty Street & Jackson Avenue, April 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - In the lower righthand corner of each photo is the intersection of Stadium & Liberty.  The 1951 photo shows Sportsman's Park, now long-gone, and the 2023 photo has Westgate and Maple Village Plazas where there used to be fields.

 

Aerial View Of New Courthouse Surrounding Old Courthouse, January 1955, Photographer Dale Fisher, Ann Arbor News / Aerial View Of Washtenaw County Courthouse, April 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - The Washtenaw County Courthouse under construction and a view of the completed building today.

 

Aerial View Of Intersection Of Washtenaw Ave, Carpenter Rd, And Hogback Rd, May 1975, Photographer Cecil Lockard, Ann Arbor News / Aerial View Of Intersection Of Washtenaw Ave, Carpenter Rd, And Hogback Rd, April 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - The cloverleaf of US-23 and Washtenaw Ave dominates this view, but the upper righthand corner shows Arborland as was and as is.

 

Aerial View Of Arborview Subdivision Near Mack School, Winter 1952, Ann Arbor News / Aerial View Of Arborview Subdivision Near Mack School, Spring 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - Miller Ave cuts diagonally across these images and Arborview Blvd heads straight away from the camera.

 

Aerial View Of South Quadrangle Dormitory, Looking Northwest, March 1951, Ann Arbor News / Aerial View of South Quadrangle Dormitory, Looking Northwest, Spring 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - Two images showing the steady westward march of the U-M campus.

 

Aerial View Of University Hospital Outpatient Construction, April 1951, Ann Arbor News / Aerial View Of University Of Michigan Medical Center, April 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - It's a surprise to see actual landform in the 1951 image here where today there are just the many buildings gigantic Michigan Medicine campus.

 

Aerial View With Parking Structure On Washington St & 1st St, April 1950, Ann Arbor News / Aerial View Of Washington St From 5th Ave To 3rd St, April 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - The anchors of these two images are carparks: Ann Arbor's first parking structure in 1950 and Ann Arbor's entire block of a parking lot today.  It is just as notable that apart from these blocks, much of this area is little changed.

 

Aerial View Of Stadium Blvd And Washtenaw Ave Intersection, 1950, Ann Arbor NewsAerial View Of Stadium Blvd And Washtenaw Ave Intersection, April 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - Stadium Blvd heads left and Washtenaw Ave heads right through what once was fields and now is businesses, churches, and housing.

 

Aerial View Of University Of Michigan Graduation At Ferry Field, June 1949, Photographer Maiteland Robert La Motte, Ann Arbor News / Aerial View Of University Of Michigan Athletic Buildings, Summer 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - Both mostly images of fields, though what in 1949 was farmland is today the U-M sports-industrial complex.

 

Aerial View Of University Of Michigan Graduation At Michigan Stadium, June 1950, Ann Arbor NewsAerial View Of University Of Michigan Stadium, Summer 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - The Big House separated by 73 years and a few renovations.

 

Aerial View Of The University Of Michigan Campus At 5,000 ft., June 1949, Ann Arbor News / Aerial View Of The University Of Michigan Campus And Downtown Ann Arbor, Summer 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - Most of downtown and the U-M campus is visible in these photos, with the growth of the hospital campus quite noticeable in the lower lefthand corner.

 

Aerial View Of Ann Arbor Art Fair, July 1989, Photographer Robert Chase, Ann Arbor News / Aerial View Of Ann Arbor Art Fair, July 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - Art Fair and West Engineering Hall along South University Ave, though significantly easier to see in 1989 before the explosion in South University high-rises.

 

Aerial View Of The Widening Of West Stadium Blvd, July 1957, Ann Arbor News / Aerial View Of Pioneer High School On West Stadium Blvd, Summer 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - A few building additions, more sports fields, and more parking, but Pioneer High School is still largely recognizable across 66 years.

 

Aerial View Of Ann Arbor Looking Northeast Toward New Veterans Hospital, September 1952, Ann Arbor News / Aerial View Of Ann Arbor Looking Northeast Toward Veterans Hospital, October 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - Both photos show some of central campus along with the U-M hospitals (with many more medical buildings in 2023).

 

Aerial View Of Barton Pond And Dam, September 1963, Ann Arbor NewsAerial View Of Barton Pond And Dam, October 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - Barton Pond and Dam, one of the few largely-unchanged areas (though city growth is definitely visible along the top of the image).

 

Aerial View Of Geddes Pond & Concordia College, September 1963, Ann Arbor NewsAerial View Of Geddes Pond & Concordia College, Fall 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - Visible in 2023 is a much-busier US-23 and what is now called Old Dixboro Road replaced by its contemporary version.

 

Aerial View Of Angell Hall Addition Construction, October 1951, Ann Arbor News / Aerial View Of Angell Hall & Central Campus, Fall 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - We see the same buildings in most of central campus, though notable additions include the Rackham Building, the Biological Sciences Building, and towering Weiser Hall.

 

Aerial View Of Tappan Junior High School & St. Francis Catholic School Construction, October 1951, Ann Arbor News / Aerial View Of Tappan Middle School & St. Francis Catholic School, Fall 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - The field in the foreground of the 1951 image has given way to the St. Francis of Assisi Church & School by 2023.

 

Aerial View Of Newly Completed North Main Street, October 1951, Ann Arbor News / Aerial View Of North Main Street, Fall 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - Far away housing developments are harder to see in 2023 as their tree canopies have grown in, but a new development site is visible along the Huron River in 2023.

 

Aerial View Of South Ann Arbor, October 1951, Ann Arbor NewsAerial View Of South Ann Arbor, Fall 2023, Aerial Associates Photography - The southern edge of town--visible about halfway up in the 1951 photo--is no longer discernible from this vantage point by 2023.

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