Subtitle: The Ypsi-Arbor Culture War

Ypsilanti often suffers from (or basks in) the disapproving gaze of other Washtenaw County residents. As the income disparity has grown between Ypsi and Ann Arbor (along with its now-satellite communities of Saline, Chelsea, and Dexter), Ypsilanti's working class heritage, racial diversity, and general "grittiness" have set it apart.

Many residents of Ann Arbor and the western Washtenaw communities hold negative perceptions of Ypsi as a haven for drugs and crime and of EMU as the poor cousin to the University of Michigan.

Many Ypsilanti residents take pride in the distinction, though, resisting what they see as creeping yuppification radiating out of Ann Arbor. These residents take pride in what's variously seen as Ypsi's historic heritage, Ypsi's working class cred, or Ypsi's punk appeal. This pride is reflected in a variety of ways, ranging from the annual Ypsilanti Heritage Festival to the "ypsipanties" produced by Crimewave USA, while the Ypsi Crime Maps website aims to combat the perception of crime by providing a map comparable to the Ann Arbor Observer's monthly crime map.


The nickname Ypsitucky is a prime example of this mixture of perceptions. Many Ann Arborites and other County residents have heard the name and understand it to be a slur on Ypsilanti. The name has historical roots, however, in the hundreds of workers that Ford relocated from Kentucky to work at the Willow Run bomber plant during World War II. The relocation was large enough that the community of transplants was able to retain some coherent sense of their heritage, and the hybrid nickname has stuck.

Ypsilanti theme songs

Two compelling tunes vie for the official song of Ypsi:

In the news

One of the biggest changes of the past year has been a subtle improvement in Ypsilanti's image. (William) Kinley says when he bought property in Ypsi in 1967, the city was clearly on a downward slide. Washtenaw was a two-lane road then, he recalls. Forty years later, it's finally turning around. "Some of it's [due to greater] affordability. The creative group is really taking the city to heart. I'm modestly optimistic. Ypsilanti is becoming Brooklyn to Ann Arbor's Manhattan," Kinley says.