A cholera outbreak in Detroit in 1832 prompted the Michigan legislature to pass an ordinance to prevent immigrants or travelers from spreading the disease throughout the territory. The overprotective frontier nature of the Ypsilanti residents gave the village the reputation of being a dangerous and fearful place to be if you weren’t a local. No one died of cholera that year in Ypsilanti, and the impression persists that the residents of the area are proud of their cantankerous frontier past.
Ten years later, ground was broken on a three storied structure that became the first building of the Michigan State Normal College which later became Eastern Michigan University. The first term began with 122 students in 1853. Males had to be eighteen and females had to be sixteen. A statement of intent to teach in a Michigan school had to be signed by every student.
Michigan State Normal College was the first teacher training school west of the Alleghenies and was, for fifty years, the only “normal” college in Michigan. As it grew, it became Eastern Michigan College in 1956, but by 1959, Eastern had been granted university status by the state legislature because of its widening educational mission.
been The Water Tower built on the town’s
highest point several hundred feet above
sea level. Built in 1889-1890, it is a limestone
clad, elevated reservoir that once was topped by
an octagonal cupola, removed in 1906 due to
fears of strong winds hurling it 147 feet below.
The Water Tower is located on a small triangular patch of land that
stands opposite Eastern Michigan University’s McKinney Student
Union building on the southwestern edge of the campus.
On a frigid January day in nineteen sixty, John F. Kennedy
metaphorically passed a torch to a new generation in his
inaugural speech. Little did the new President know what history
had in store for America by decade's end.
It was a tough decade that polarized the nation like nothing else had
since the Civil War. It was the age of the Vietnam War, political
assassinations, the Civil Rights movement, urban riots, the
Black Panthers, the draft, and the heyday of the Cold War.
Is it any wonder that by the end of the decade university campuses
all over America felt the dissonant chords of political dissent and
civil disobedience? The campuses of Eastern Michigan University
and The University of Michigan were no exceptions.
Next post: Ypsilanti, Michigan - The Turbulent Sixties