The University of Michigan has educated and inspired millions of students through the decades. Located in the heart of thriving Ann Arbor, Michigan, the university campus is within walking distance to hundreds of restaurants, pubs, and unique shops. Over the past 200 years, life on campus has evolved – from local eateries and bars to chaotic game day rituals. Travel back in time with us as we explore U-M’s most iconic student hangouts and memorable experiences though the decades.
Union: After construction was completed in 1919, the Michigan Union was fondly recognized as “the heartbeat of campus.” Known as a locale for young men on campus, the Union was only open to women whom arrived with a male escort. It wasn’t until 1968 that women were granted access regardless of a male presence. The vibrant center enhanced student life, increasing collaboration and support among scholars attending the University. Featuring a swimming pool, study lounge, bowling alley, and billiards room, the Michigan Union was a popular place for students to converse with one another.
League: The Michigan League, which officially opened in 1929, offered numerous traditional activities, and was a gathering spot for the growing activism presence on campus. The featured offerings at the League were primarily open to women on campus in U-M's earlier years, but the League later served both students and the surrounding community, and was often used for conferences and seminars during the 60s and 70s.
Commons: As the student population continued to grow, the campus continued to expand throughout Ann Arbor. To meet the demands of an evolving campus, the University of Michigan constructed the Pierpont Commons building on North Campus. The public building opened in 1965, offering a place for students and staff to eat and socialize.
The University of Michigan has continued to support student life through the decades by updating student centers, improving involvement on campus, and encouraging collaboration among faculty and students. The Re:Union renovation, beginning Spring 2018, will take student input into consideration while maintaining the historically significant aspects of the historic Union building. The League and Pierpont Commons have continued to support the ever-growing list of students, staff, and faculty. When renovating common areas, feedback from past and current students help to create a productive, comfortable environment.
Known as Dag-wood Diner in 1949, the legendary Fleetwood Diner intrigued students with 24-hour service and iconic hippie hash. The deliciously addicting meal, featuring hash browns piled high with veggies and cheese, is still a local favorite. The iconic name stems from well-known Ann Arbor inhabitants – hippies! Student or not, Ann Arborites continue to gather in this unique diner at all hours.
Students have been sipping on homemade sangria from Dominick’s since the 1960s. The charming bar was the place to be after U-M football games, featuring a laid-back atmosphere for students to debate close calls and predict the outcome of an upcoming rivalry game. The well-known establishment continues to welcome students back to the University with a refreshing drink after spring break.
It's mind boggling to think that a University of Michigan student, prior to the 1950s, hadn't tasted a juicy burger from Blimpy. After opening in 1953, it was clear Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger was here to stay. Students quickly dubbed this as one of the best Ann Arbor has to offer – and the legend lives on today.
Informally known as the P-Bell, the Pretzel Bell served as a rite of passage for students and Ann Arbor townies. Since opening in 1934 the restaurant was the unofficial the host of the after party – students and faculty would flock to the eatery after a game at the Big House to celebrate a victory for the Wolverines. After closing their doors more than 30 years, a new version of the Pretzel Bell reopened on Main St. and is currently owned and operated by University of Michigan alumni.