Street Names in Ann Arbor

A friend messaged me to ask if I knew for whom Ingalls Street was named. I did not so I went to the first place I usually go–the news archives where old timey newspapers were graciously scanned in by our wonderful librarians with way more patience than I will ever have.

I stumbled upon an article from the Ann Arbor News, circa 1936, which proved to be a treasure of information. Some of it was known to me, some was not. I will leave it to you to figure out that which I already knew!

  • Allen/Rumsey laid out the streets from what we now call Allen’s Creek, numbering them 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and Division. The latter marked the end of the plats they had purchased and the beginning of the “countryside.”
  • 2nd is now Ashley and 3rd is now Main. 4th and 5th were “Streets” until the land west of the creek was developed and our friend William Maynard thought “hey cool I like numbers!” and started numbering again. That’s about when we decided to make 4th and 5th into “avenues” instead of, you know, just giving them cool new names.
  • At one point there was land between E. William, E. Jefferson, and S. Thayer Streets. U of M did not yet exist in Ann Arbor–at that time, we were trying to be named the state capital. Part of that land was designated as the State House public square while another part was called the Public Square. Spoiler Alert–we didn’t become the state capital but we did name the street to the west “State Street.”
  • We took the names Huron Street and Huron River from local Native Americans/First Persons.
  • Allen named the street Ann and Rumsey named the street Catherine. Okay, I get that “Ann” was likely after Allen’s wife but WHO WAS CATHERINE?!?! Elisha, Elisha, Elisha! What did Mary Ann say?!
  • Lawrence Street was named for Judge Lawrence who had a house on the street. It was also known as the Bowery. I don’t know why but Google says there was a Bowery in New York City which was notorious for its saloons and brothels so….
  • Kingsley Street was originally called North Street because it was the northernmost street; it is named for Judge Kingsley
  • Elizabeth Street was named for Elizabeth Swathel because that area was platted as “Swathel’s addition”
  • Fuller Street was named for Mrs. Judge Lawrence’s mother. Women did not have first names until 1905.
  • Beakes Street was known as Pontiac Street but its name was changed to honor Williard Beakes, who served as mayor
  • Depot Street (where I used to live until flood insurance forced me out and I will always be bitter) is obvs named because the depot is there
  • That little Carey Street that is near the depot and not really talked about much was named after Peter Carey, a gardener whose house was nearby
  • 1836 saw the founding of the Ann Arbor Land Company which, among other things, convinced that little startup university in Detroit to land here instead. The members of this esteemed group included Daniel Brown (brother of Anson, founder of Lower Town and cholera victim), William S. Maynard, Charles Thayer, and Chester Ingalls. They platted a bunch of land and guess what?? William and Maynard Streets are a thing, as is Thayer Street and BOOM the answer to the original question about Ingalls Street.

 

More next time but for now I want to thank Miss Marie L. Douglas for doing the legwork on this. I hope you had a good and long life, my friend.

 

 

 

 

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