Traverse City is located at the base of the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas where the Boardman River flows into Grand Traverse Bay. In 1847 William Boardman bought pine lands on the river and, in partnership with his son, began logging and milling operations. In 1851, Hannah, Lay and Company acquired the Boardman operations, and the development of the town followed in earnest. As the lumbering and wood products industries came to a close, cutover lands in the surrounding area were cultivated with cherry and fruit orchards, and, today, vineyards. The city became the center of cherry growing and processing. Meanwhile, the resort industry developed, and the towered wooden Park Place Hotel, with its full-width veranda, as well as other resort hotels that no longer stand, attracted tourists. Today, Traverse City is the largest city in northern Lower Michigan and one of the most dynamic in the state. In 2009, for its exceptional character the American Planning Association designated Front Street one of 10 Great Streets.
Historic commercial and residential districts support Munson Medical Center, a regional hospital adjacent to the former Northern Michigan Asylum ( GT8); Northwestern Michigan College (see GT9); and the Dennos Museum (1989–1999, Robert L. Holdeman of aai; 1701 E. Front Street). Many of the neighborhoods contain splendid examples of wooden architecture that date from the lumbering era. Cherry and film festivals, culinary arts and maritime education, equestrian events, minor league baseball, and museum and art gallery activities that have evolved or been instituted recently are giving rise to new buildings and the restoration of others. The centerpiece of the Traverse City Film Festival is the newly restored State Theatre ( GT5). Great Lakes Culinary Institute of Northwestern Michigan College operates in the Great Lakes Maritime Academy (2003, Cornerstone Architects; 715 E. Front Street) at Northwestern Michigan College. Horse Shows by the Bay is a three-week equestrian event at Flintfields Horse Park. The park's Grand Prix Show Jumping Arena by Guilherme Jorge opened in 2007–2008 at 6535 Bates Road in the Williamsburg vicinity. Traverse City Beach Bums play baseball at Wuerfel Park (2004–2006, William C. Fuller; 333 Stadium Drive, Blair Township). Its gables, cupolas, and horizontality may reference the region's resort architecture, but it really recalls Churchill Downs in Kentucky.
Compiling two years of Michigan State University and University of Michigan student design proposals, URS Corporation with Johnson Hill Land Ethics Studio are developing plans to make the waterfront into a unified and walkable space. The citizen-based Grand Vision land use and transportation planning project underway in 2008 will provide a framework for development for the next fifty years in a five-county area. Citizens recognize the need for open space preservation, clustering houses on small lots, and multifamily housing to achieve a sustainable quality of place where people get around by foot, bike, and transit; buy their food from a local farmer; and enjoy a vibrant downtown.
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