Michigan - The Great Lakes State

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Capital City:
Lansing
Nickname:
Great Lakes State/ Wolverine State / Water Wonderland
Motto:
Si Quaeris Peninsulam Amoenam, Circumspice(If You Seek a Pleasant peninsula, Look About You)
Statehood:
January 26, 1837 (26th)
Origin of State's Name:
Based on Chippewa Indian word "meicigama" meaning "great water," and referring to the Great Lake
Largest Cities:
Detroit, Grand Rapids, Warren, Flint, Lansing
Border States:
Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin
Land Area:
56,809 sq. mi., 22nd largest
State Bird:
Robin
State Flower:
Apple Blossom (pyrus coronaria)State Tree: White pine (pinus strobus)
State Song:
Michigan, My Michigan

Michigan was the 26th state, admitted into the Union in 1837. Called the "Great Lakes State" because its shores touch four of the five Great Lakes, Michigan gets its name from an Ojibwa (Chippewa) Indian word meaning "large lake." Michigan has an unusual geography, as it consists of two land masses--the Upper Peninsula and the mitten-shaped Lower Peninsula. Detroit, its largest city, is known worldwide as the center of the American auto industry. The apple blossom is the state flower, the robin is the state bird and Lansing is the capital.

Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant

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This tank arsenal was the first ever built for mass production of American tanks. When World War II erupted in Europe, and Germany began using tanks in its Blitzkrieg offensives, the United States did not have a tank production program. By mid-1940, the U.S. realized it needed an armored force separate from its infantry. In response to this need, the Detroit Tank Arsenal Plant sprang up seemingly overnight in the winter of 1940-'41, on 113 acres of farm land located north of downtown Detroit, in what is now the city of Warren. The mammoth structure measured five city blocks deep and two blocks wide, designed by master industrial architect, Albert Kahn, in the Moderne style.

Owned by the government and run by Chrysler, the plant received its first contract to build 1,000 M3 tanks in 1940. The government accepted the first M3 on April 24, 1941, while the plant was still under construction. The delivery was marked by a festive occasion, broadcast over a nationwide radio hook-up. VIPs and plant workers cheered as the tank fired its guns, smashed telephone poles, and destroyed a mock-up house. The plant also built M4 Sherman tanks, which have a turret mounted 75-mm gun. The plant set an all-time monthly production record by delivering 896 M4s in December 1942. As the war ended, the government suspended tank production.

During World War II, the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant built a quarter of the 89,568 tanks produced in the U.S. overall. Its production closely matched tank production of either Great Britain or Germany. During the Korean War, the plant was modified to build the new battle tank, the M47 Patton. In all, Chrysler built 3,443 M47 Patton tanks between 1952 and 1954. During the '60s, the plant produced 500 of the superior M60A2 tanks, which had a novel turret mounted on an M60 chassis and featured a 152-mm gun launcher that fired both conventional rounds and a guided missile. In response to the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the plant was producing a record five tanks per day.

In 1979, the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant built components for M1 tanks, which were built at the Lima Art Tank Plant, and continued to build M60 tanks. Because the Lima Plant could not keep up the M1 production, the Detroit Tank Arsenal plant also began producing M1s for the army. In 1982, Chrysler sold the plant to General Dynamics, which produced both M60s and M1s until 1987. The plant was closed in 1996, and the government transferred the property to city of Warren, where it is located, for reuse and development.

Lapeer Days

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Held annually every August in Lapeer, Michigan, Lapeer Days includes a parade, a fair, and agricultural displays. In 1999, between 125,000 and 150,000 people attended the event. In 1901, the first Lapeer Days celebration drew 5,000 visitors. The kickoff event was the opening of the Bostick Stove Works; it concluded with a fireworks display. During the event, local merchants entered wagons in the parade with their goods on display, such as logs, freshly tanned leather, and the Bostick stove. From the back of his wagon, a local piano vendor played for spectators. Contests were held between local youths, and visitors witnessed a hot air balloon ascension.

The Lapeer County Courthouse, built in 1846 and one of the oldest courthouses still in use in the United States, has been the center of every Lapeer Days since the first festival was held. It is traditional for participants to visit the stone drinking fountain, built over a natural spring, directly in front of the courthouse.

The celebration has grown from a one-day to a five-day affair. Currently sponsored by the Lapeer Area Chamber of Commerce, it has changed over the last hundred years from serving a primarily agricultural to a primarily suburban populace. In addition to the ever-popular parade, today Lapeer Days also includes a handicraft fair, 4-H competitions, a classic car cruise, model train show, book sale, karate demonstrations, mountain bike contest, and a Miss Lapeer contest.

Motown Historical Museum

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Visitors to the Motown Historical Museum experience some of the excitement of Motown's earliest years. The original location of the Motown Record Corporation, "Hitsville USA," is a fully restored historic site that traces the story of the company's growth from its modest beginnings into the world's largest independent record manufacturer. The museum's core exhibition begins with the story of Motown's founder, Berry Gordy, and tracks the history of Motown from its founding to its position as a major influence on music, culture, style and entertainment the world over.

In 1959, Gordy purchased the two-family flat on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, and christened it "Hitsville USA." He lived upstairs, operated what became known as the Motown Record Corporation downstairs, and recorded out of a former photography studio attached to the house. The Hitsville site includes the original Motown recording "Studio A" and the control room, which operated 24 hours a day, everyday, until 1972. The birthplace of the famous Motown sound began in the reception lobby, where young hopefuls such as the Supremes and Temptations waited to audition.

Ukrainian Sunflower Festival

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This is among the most popular and largest ethnic summer festivals in Michigan, attracting 25,000 people annually. The festival features traditional Ukrainian food, ethnic dancing and costumes, and exhibitions and demonstrations of Ukrainian folk crafts, especially embroidery and ceramics. The parishes of two Detroit area Ukrainian Catholic churches, the Immaculate Conception in Hamtramck and St. Josaphat in Warren, began the festival during the 1980s to bring Ukrainian communities together, and to share the beauty and importance of the Ukrainian heritage, culture and traditions with other Americans. The sunflower is a traditional flower in Ukraine, and Ukranian immigrants following World War II brought its seeds with them to America. Each year students from the Immaculate Conception Grade School plant sunflower seeds around the perimeter of the festival grounds at St. Josephat so that the flowers are blooming during the festival.

Live professional craft demonstrations show how the gerdon (beaded necklace) of floral and geometric design, often worn with folk costumes, is made. Also popular are the coloring and decorating of Easter eggs, called pysanka; the pysanky symbolize rebirth or a new life. Other crafts demonstrated are wood cutwork and inlaid wood carvings.

Especially popular is the festival's ethnic fare. Daily food preparation by 50 parishioners begins weeks before the festival. Varenyky, a dough dumpling filled with potato, cheese, sauerkraut, or fruit filling, is among the sampling. For example, 1,000 pounds of potatoes are used just for the popular varenyky filling. Many desserts are made from old family recipes. A popular dessert is torte, which can be walnut, mocha, cream cheese and fruit. Ukraine has sometimes been called the bread basket of Europe, and the festival showcases many popular Ukranian breads, including korovaj, also known as the wedding bread. This unique bread is made of wheat and is decorated with specific symbolic figurines.

Among the festival's diverse entertainment under the "big tent" are ethnic dancers and constant music. Two ongoing dueling bands play back to back, one performs ethnic and the other contemporary or popular music. The project is documented with a notebook reviewing the past 13 years of the festival, 16 color photographs, supplemental material, and a CD and video.

Source: Library Of Congress
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