This article is from 2016, but still has some great ideas for ways to experience Ypsilanti! For updated event dates, click HERE.
Public murals are becoming increasingly popular in Ypsilanti, Michigan – but some of our sculptures and statues have been around for nearly a century! Take a look at this list while visiting Ypsilanti, and explore the beautiful and unique statues throughout the city and Eastern Michigan University’s Campus.
One of the most common questions about Ypsilanti is, “Where did the city get its name?”. Luckily, we wrote a blog about that a few months ago. The city was named after a Greek general, Demetrius Ypsilanti. You can also get a view of Demetrius Ypsilanti in front of our famous water tower on Washtenaw and Cross Street. Once you’ve done that, be sure to tell your friends it’s pronounced “IP-sill-ann-tee”, not “YIP-sill-ann-tee”!
Ypsilanti played a major role during the Underground Railroad due to its close proximity to Canada. Although Harriet Tubman never visited Ypsilanti, this statue pays tribute to the men and women risked their lives to lead those in bondage down the path of freedom. Take a look at this lovely statue next to the Downtown Ypsilanti District Library.
Directly in front of Quirk Theatre at Eastern Michigan University – this statue has greeted generations upon generations of performers into the theatre. EMU Professor John Nick Pappas carved this relief sculpture and was quoted, “The mythical image of Icarus has always symbolized freedom, strength, imagination, science, hope, and man’s fallibly”.
Eastern Michigan University is proud to commemorate one of the greatest men who ever lived, Martin Luther King Jr. Near Welch Hall, this beautiful sculpture and MLK Plaza can be found and used as a means to reflect on all that was fought for during the civil rights movement. In addition to the statue and plaza, EMU celebrates MLK with a series of events in January, and awards notable students the MLK Humanitarian Award.
This statue was revealed in Ypsilanti in 1940 to honor Americans who went to war with Spain in 1898. There are over 50 versions of this statue throughout the country. “The Hiker” in Ypsilanti, Michigan is a stone’s throw away from the Demetrius Ypsilanti statue.
The historic Highland Cemetery is home to another gorgeous statue in Ypsilanti. Erected on Memorial Day in 1895, this statue is symbol for Ypsilanti residents who fought in the Civil War. (You can read about Black Civil War Heroes in our blog by historian, Matt Siegfried.) Throughout the years, historians take residents and visitors on tours throughout the cemetery to gain a better understanding of the rich history of Ypsilanti, Michigan.
In 1999, EMU celebrated its 150th anniversary, and added sculptures near Ford Hall to honor the history of the university. The professor who carved the Icarus statue (Professor John Knick Pappas) lead this charge to acquire and place the art near EMU’s art building.
Thanks for reading! Take a creative photo of one (or more) of these statues, and share it by using the #YpsiReal hashtag.