The Ann Arbor Observer is a monthly publication that highlights significant businesses, organizations, and individuals in the Ann Arbor community. All "permanent" Ann Arbor residents get the Observer in the mail free of charge. It was founded in 1976 by Don and Mary Hunt.

Publisher Patricia Garcia, Editor John Hilton.

Online is the online version of the Observer's printed magazine.  Access to the calendar and city guide are free.  Articles become visible on various days throughout the month, or can be seen immediately by paid subscribers and online members ($10/year).


Monthly issues of the Observer contain several regular features, including.

  • Feature articles - long-format pieces on political or cultural issues
    in the city.
  • Then and Now - local history by Grace Shackman
  • Inside Ann Arbor - medium-sized news stories.
  • Up Front - super-short news and culture notes.
  • Ann Arborites profiles.
  • Crime map - "major crimes" from the previous month, including assault, robbery, motor vehicle theft, CSC, and murder.
  • Marketplace Changes retail and restaurant news.
  • Restaurant Reviews
  • Fake Ad/I Spy

All these articles are posted online at during the month they appear in print.

  • Real estate map - the previous month's sales of houses and condos in and
    around Ann Arbor, with prices. These maps are provided to the Observer by Duke Realty.
  • Covers of original art depict Ann Arbor scenes and events and are created by mostly local artists. Repeat favorites include Laura Strowe, Greg Sobran, and Brenda Miller Slomovits. The Observer supports local artists by purchasing their work and treats the art respectfully by overlaying only its flag and necessary mailing info on top of the works.

Business Model and Subscription Info

The Observer is primarily ad-supported; a monthly feature of the magazine is a fictional advertisement, containing telltale text. One reader who finds the fake ad is selected, by drawing, to receive a gift certificate to a real advertiser of his or her choice from the magazine, encouraging readers to look over the ads.

All households in the Ann Arbor school district or postal district may receive the Observer free of charge; issues are also available individually at area newsstands for $2 each, or by subscription.

A subscription form is available on the Observer's website at


The Observer's main offices are at 2390 Winewood, near Top Of The Lamp.


Don and Mary Hunt started the Ann Arbor Observer in 1976. When they retired, The Observer was sold to long-time editor John Hilton and Patricia Garcia. The Ann Arbor News covered the transition in their December 3, 1986 story Observer Won't Change Much, featuring contemporary photos of the principals.


The Ann Arbor District Library maintains a fairly complete run of the Observer in its Local History collection, second floor of the downtown library. Some subset of the articles in the magazine are online, including a local history series written by Grace Shackman. All articles published since October 2008 are online at

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