Traverse City, Michigan 2020

Traverse City is a city and the county seat of Grand Traverse County, located at the southern end of Grand Traverse Bay in the northwestern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, United States. The town was originally settled in 1847 and named after Grand Traverse Bay. Traverse City has grown from a lumber town to one of the nation’s premier cherry processing markets.

Geography of the town of Traverse

Aerial view of downtown Traverse City, Michigan.

Traverse City is the main inland port of Grand Traverse Bay, along the harbor separated from Lake Michigan by the Leelanau Peninsula and divided almost equally by a narrow peninsula of tiered hills and farmland called the Old Mission Peninsula. The Boardman River is the city’s most important waterway, and along with Boardman Lake, the river forms part of the Boardman River Watershed. The river’s 740 square kilometer watershed contributes one-third of the bay’s water volume and is one of Michigan’s top ten fisheries. In fact, about 58 km of its 288 km are designated as blue ribbon trout fishing. According to the US Census Bureau, Traverse City covers a total area of ​​22.43 km2, of which 21.57 km2 is land and 0.85 km2 is water.

Climate of the city of Traverse

Grand Traverse Lighthouse in Traverse City, Michigan
The exterior of the historic Grand Traverse Lighthouse in Traverse City, Traverse Bay, along the shores of frozen Lake Michigan in winter.

According to the Köppen climate classification, the city of Traverse City experiences a hot-summer continental climate with warm, mild summers and very cold winters. The hot season lasts from May to September, with July being the hottest month with an average high temperature of 26.6°C and a low temperature of 15.5°C. The cold season lasts from December to March, with January being the coldest month, with an average low temperature of -7.7°C and a high temperature of -1.6°C. Lake Michigan and Grand Traverse Bay significantly moderate Traverse City’s climate. The city receives an average annual precipitation of 29.12 inches and an average annual snowfall of 101.4 inches.

The population of Traverse City

In 2019, Traverse City, Michigan was home to 15,600 people with a median age of 41.4. About 90.5% of the city’s population is considered white, most of whom are non-Hispanic. Two or more races make up 2.77% of the city’s population, Hispanic at 1.98%, American Indian and Alaska Native at 1.77%, and Black or African American at 1.49%. In 2019, 2.78% of Traverse City residents were born outside the country. The most common place of birth for Michigan’s foreign-born residents was Mexico, followed by India and Iraq. In 2019, Traverse City’s student body was biased toward women, with most graduating students being white, followed by two or more races. The most popular majors in Traverse City are Liberal Arts and Sciences, Registered Nursing and Marine Sciences, and Merchant Navy Officers. The largest university by number of degrees awarded was Northwestern Michigan College.

Economy of the town of Traverse

Downtown Traverse City, Michigan
Downtown Traverse City appears empty, with many shops and restaurants closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Editorial credit: Andrew Marek / Shutterstock.com

The median household income in Traverse City is $57,076. Although income inequality in Michigan (measured using the Gini index) is 0.475, which is below the national average, men tend to have an average income 1.37 times higher than the national average income of women. Traverse City’s economy employs about half of the population in different industries. The largest industries are health care and social assistance, retail trade, and accommodation and food services. The highest paying sectors are finance and insurance, finance and insurance, and public administration.

Brief History of Traverse City

Traverse City Psychiatric Hospital in Traverse City, Michigan
Exterior of Traverse City Psychiatric Hospital. The former asylum is now a tourist destination with condos, shops, and ghost tours. Editorial credit: ehrlif / Shutterstock.com

Traverse City takes its name from what was already called Traverse Bay, which was named by 18th century French explorers who passed through the land on their journey. Reverend Peter Dougherty established the first settlement on the Old Mission Peninsula in 1839. The area continued to grow when Captain Boardman purchased land at the Boardman River, building a sawmill in 1847. In 1851 Hannah, Lay & Co bought the mill. They did some plant expansions, which attracted many job seekers and helped the community grow quickly. In 1872 a railroad came to the area bringing much development to the community. The line connects to Grand Rapids and the Indiana Railroad, facilitating the establishment of many other industries and creating job opportunities that have drawn more people to the area. The various acts of entrepreneurship and development had contributed to the economy and population growth of the city. In 2009, Traverse was ranked as the second best small town for travelers to visit in the United States. Plus, it’s one of the country’s top tart cherry producers, attracting many visitors during harvest season for festivals and tastings.

Tourist Attractions in Traverse City

People enjoying wine tastings in Traverse City, Michigan
People enjoy the wine tastings, the relaxing atmosphere, and the beautiful view of the famous Mari Vineyards on the Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City, Michigan. Editorial credit: PQK / Shutterstock.com

The Grand Traverse area produces more tart cherries than any other place in the country and attracts around half a million visitors each year when harvesting in July for the Cherry Festival. In addition to the festival and wineries, the town offers a wide range of recreational activities, a thriving farmer’s market, art galleries, antiques, and plenty of places to dine.

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