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A Pretty Lake Superior Port, Marquette Has a Scenic Waterfront, Two Beaches, Dozens of Parks, a University and More
Marquette (population 21,000) is a pretty town along the shores of sprawling Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (U.P.), a rural, remote region that is a Paradise for outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Farther north than Montreal, Canada, Marquette is home to Northern Michigan University (7,000 students) and a regional medical center. It has a gentle spirit and has won national recognition as a great place to live.
As one of the snowiest city in the contiguous United States, Marquette receives an average of 11 feet of the white stuff each winter. Despite the weather, residents seem to love this town, praising its strong community spirit, Midwestern friendliness and lush natural beauty.
The median home price is $325,000, reflecting a 12% increase from last year, and the cost of living is 13% below the national average. Thirty five percent of residents are age 45 or better. Crime is but a concept. Nearly 40% of locals hold at least a four year college degree, and politics lean to the left. Marquette has maintained its population during the last decade.
The waterfront is dotted with green spaces and is home to all sorts of moored boats. Ships carrying iron ore frequently offload their cargo at the city's two huge docks.
The downtown has the traditional look of the industrial Midwest, with interesting red brick buildings, brownstones and Beaux Arts architecture from the mid-19th century and early-20th century. The structures are in good shape, housing flower shops, pottery stores, art galleries, yarn shops, bookstores, jewelry stores, coffee houses, clothiers, pharmacies and more.
Restaurant menus are eclectic, serving everything from Cajun and Thai to tacos and pastries.
Locals enjoy a dozen or so public parks, including forested Presque Isle Park. Designed by the same landscape architect that sculpted New York City's Central Park, it is nestled along the coast and juts out into Lake Superior.
Marquette also has public beaches, one with a lighthouse. Boating and water activities are simply a way of life.
Miles of bicycling and cross country skiing paths wind around town, and Marquette Golf Club meanders through a rolling valley with jagged outcroppings.
Just outside of town, miles of untamed territory are perfect for camping, fishing, boating, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, hiking, birding, bicycling and even quiet contemplation.
NMU's Forest Roberts Theatre, the Black Box Theatre and the Lake Superior Theatre, a semi-professional summer stock group, guarantee year round productions. The Peter While Library is home to the Marquette Cultural Arts Center and is a warm, welcoming oasis during the U.P.'s long winters. University athletic events and lectures happen year round.
City festivals include the Hiawatha Traditional Music Festival, Art on the Rocks, Harbor Fest, the Marquette Area Blues Fest, and yes, the Marquette Scandinavian Midsummer Festival and Wife Carrying Contest.
Marquette General Hospital, the regional medical center, is accredited by the Joint Commision. It is also the only Level II trauma center in the U.P. and is a primary stroke center.
The Marquette Senior Center offers a wide variety of health, education, nutrition, fitness and recreation programs, as well as the services of state-licensed social workers.
The city is walkable, but MarqTran provides limited bus service throughout town.
Winter temperatures are in the single digits, teens and 20s, and snow often falls for days at a time. Summers are cool and short, with up to 20 inches of rain and temperatures topping out in the 70s and 80s. Autumns are exhilarating.
It is worth noting that a branch of Michigan State Prison is located here, but it is "protected with a concrete wall, razor-ribbon wire, electronic detection systems and eight gun towers." Marquette's poverty rate is also above the national average, but much of this is attributed to the large number of students, who tend to be everywhere. The University does not, however, have a party school reputation.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is Michigan Tax-Friendly at Retirement? Somewhat
Although it is remote, cold and snowy much of the year, Marquette has a gentle spirit, excellent medical facilities, outstanding outdoor recreation, pretty scenery, University activities and reasonably priced housing, making this waterside town a place to consider for retirement.
The Wolverine State's borders touch four of the Great Lakes and the state is divided into two parts - Upper and Lower. The Mackinac Bridge, one of the world's longest suspension bridges, connects these two halves. Up North, the Sault St. Marie canals connect Lake Superior and Lake Huron.
Native Americans lived in the area when the first Europeans arrived in 1618. Sault St. Marie was the first immigrant settlement in 1668. After the Indian and French Wars, Britain claimed the land from the French. The region became part of the U.S. after the Revolutionary War, but constant conflict occured between the British, Americans and Native Americans until the end of the War of 1812.
The name Michigan came from the Ojibwa Indian words Mishi-gama (meaning "large lake").
The world's first air-conditioned automobile was built by Detroit's Packard Motor Car Company in 1939.
No point in Michigan is farther than six miles from a body of water.
Michigan is the only U.S. state to have two peninsulas.
The state produces 70% of the tart cherries grown in the United States.
Michigan has about 150 lighthouses, more than any other state.
Although Michigan's nickname is the "Wolverine State," no wolverines live in the state.
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