Friday, July 29, 2005

A little over a week ago, I visited Ann Arbor, my first trip back in three years. Most things in town looked the same as in 2002, or even as in 1984, my first year of graduate school at UM. Yet, things also change. Over the next few weeks, I plan to write a three-part entry about my Ann Arbor visit, focusing on (1) the town and campus, (2) my visit in the psychology department, and (3) the Ann Arbor Art Fair, which partially overlapped with my visit. Today, I'll start with...

Part I: The Town and Campus

Assuming one flies into Detroit Metro Airport, the first task after retrieving one's luggage is, of course, to get to Ann Arbor. Some of you may remember a shuttle system where you could go to a ground transportation counter at the airport and purchase a ticket for a ride to Ann Arbor (and could set up a trip in the opposite direction from the Michigan Union). Well, that shuttle system is gone and has been for a few years. There are some other options that appear to require one to do some advance planning (including one university-based shuttle that only runs around the time of the major school breaks), or else one has to take a taxi (which is about $45 one way) or rent a car.

After traveling west on I-94, one approaches the campus from the south, along State St. Upon reaching the beginning of the campus area, one of the first things a visitor would probably notice is the construction on the new building for the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy (the construction can be watched via webcam -- be sure to scroll to the bottom of the new page that comes up).

Another area of active construction is a bit further north on State St., at the intersection of Washington St. (between Liberty and Huron). At what I believe is the former location of Olga's cafe, there is now a high-rise apartment building with a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant on the ground floor. To the east of this block (in the direction of the Modern Languages Building), there is another construction site, this one for a UM building. Also in the same vicinity, the Frieze Building will be converted into a dormitory. Some photos of the general scene in this area can be accessed here.

A completed construction project, one more in the heart of campus, is the "jazzing up" of the Mason/Haven Hall area off the Diag.

I went to many of my old favorite establishments, such as State St. Barber Shop (where Bill, the barber who cut my hair during grad school, is still going strong), Borders bookstore (multiple visits), Moe's Sport Shop and Steve and Barry's for t-shirts (including one commemorating this year's NCAA women's softball championship won by UM), the restaurants Seva and Cottage Inn, Bruegger's and Einstein Brothers for bagels, and, on different evenings, the adjacent Stucchi's and Ben and Jerry's for ice cream. One new place I went to, on State St. in the area where North University comes in, is Noodles and Company.

Ann Arbor summers are typically mild, except when a national heat wave is going on. Well, this year, there's been a national heat wave, and Ann Arbor has not been exempt. That inhibited my walking a little bit, but as can be seen from the above, I still got around.