A walking tour of Bay City offers a glimpse of how Hell’s Half Mile earned its notorious nickname

Stroll along Water Street, Saginaw Street, and Third Street in Downtown Bay City today and you’ll find restaurants, bars, and luxury condos. Stop on the right night and catch live music in Wenonah Park or the Third Street Waterfall Park. On summer weekends, you can buy an ice-cold lemonade and warm, salty popcorn from vendors working at an art festival. Wind the clocks back to the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s, though, and you’ll find a completely different scene. Sure, you’ll find bars, restaurants, and hotels, however they might not be filled with the type of crowds we see in the area today.

Story Map: Fort Saginaw to Post-Industrial: Saginaw - A city recreating itself

The following story map is one of my contributions to the University of Michigan-Flint's WPA Guidebook Project for Mideast Michigan. "Through booms and busts, population growths and declines, and to industry and societal changes, the Saginaw River has been the beating heart of the City of Saginaw’s economic, cultural, and everchanging soul for well over a century. This story map aims to give the viewer a glimpse into Saginaw’s vast history best viewed on foot, bicycle, or maybe event renting a scooter that are scattered throughout the city. Like the Saginaw Narrative, this is very brief and meant to encourage further exploration and research to those curious about Saginaw’s history. Included are links in the passages for more information on various topics where applicable."

Spring is the season of sunshine, flowers, and grant applications

The United Way of Bay County is now accepting Community Investment Grant applications from local non-profits. Grant proposals must be aligned with one of the United Way of Bay County’s focus areas – education, health, and income stability. The goal of the United Way grants is to elevate people in our community to be self-sustainable, provide access to a quality education, a healthier lifestyle, and to earn the income needed to support their families.

Re-visiting a family renovating an historic home on North Grant Street

Last year, Wayne Hofmann, Client Funding Director of WadeTrim, who Route Bay City visited with in 2021, was in the process of renovating his family’s forever home on North Grant Street on Bay City’s East Side. Just over a year later, Route returned to visit with the Hofmann family and find out what’s been happening. We found the Hofmanns officially home at 615 N. Grant St. The work isn’t completely finished, but it’s come a long way. And Hofmann is making big plans for the neighborhood.

MLK Day of Service Project grows to help everyone from toddlers to seniors in Bay and Arenac

It takes a village to raise a service project that benefits everyone from toddlers to senior citizens. Recently, a coalition of agencies, educators, senior citizens, and service clubs came together to pull off a MLK Day of Service Project that helped hundreds of people in Bay and Arenac counties. The collaborative project took place in January during the week surrounding Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The aim of the project was to honor the legacy of the civil rights activist.

Before the snow flies, take a walking tour of several historic homes on and near Center Avenue

The Center Avenue Historic District and touring its seemingly endless rows of homes both along Center Avenue and the surrounding neighborhoods is a fascinating way to spend a few hours on a sunny day. Along the way, you’ll learn about architecture and local history. This fall, Route is taking you back to the leaf-covered sidewalks and streets of the district for a third time to admire more historic architecture and learn local history. In 2020 and 2021, Route Bay City has offered our readers several historic architecture walking tours. In November 2020, Route Bay City detailed our first self-guided walking tour of the Center Avenue district. That route lines up perfectly with our May 2021 tour of another section of Center Avenue. Cross the river and you can stroll through the historic Midland Street district in a tour outlined in December 2020.

The history of the USS Edson, docked in Bay City, includes ghosts, 9/11, and two museums

Since 2012, the USS Edson DD-946 has been docked along the Saginaw River as the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum Before arriving in Bay City, the ship had a remarkable history and service record dating back to the 1950s. Over its 30-year U.S. Navy career, it had seen numerous awards and commendations for its service, was part of another museum at one time, and may even be haunted The ship is named for Major General Merritt Austin Edson of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1897-1955. It is one of the few destroyers named for a Marine Corp. veteran and is a Forrest-Sherman class destroyer.

Q&A with Nicole Luczak, the United Way of Bay County’s new CEO and Executive Director

The United Way of Bay County didn’t have to look far to find the best woman for the job as United Way of Bay County’s new CEO and Executive Director. On July 1, Nicole Luczak transitioned from her role as Associate Director of the charitable agency to Executive Director. She succeeds Marybeth Laisure, who announced her retirement about a year ago. Since January, Michael Bacigalupo has served as the interim director. Luczak is a Central Michigan University alumnus and has been active in Bay County and the region for over a decade.

Bay County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority hopes to spur cooperation and economic growth

When Laura Ogar looks at an abandoned gas station or empty factories in Bay County, she doesn’t see blight and decay. Instead, she sees the possibility for community growth in the form of new businesses, jobs, and family homes. Ogar, Director of Bay County Environmental Affairs and Community Development, is working to make this vision a reality. She’s part of a team of people across Bay County who envision a bright future for the community. Earlier this year, the Bay County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution authorizing a county-wide Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (BRA) by the end of 2021. BRAs determine which properties are eligible for re-development and identify financial incentives that could attract developers.

Hobbyists restore a classic 1938 Packard and a vintage 1935 airplane to their glory days

Bay City’s James Clements Airport has incredible history and big plans in store. Inside its hangars, gentlemen such as Mark Staudacher and Andrew Kolak put time into their passions to keep history alive. At the airport, Staudacher has restored a rare piece of aviation history: a 1935 WACO YOC Custom Cabin ‘sesquiplane’ — where the lower wings are smaller than the upper wings. Fellow pilot Kolak has changed his focus from airplanes to restoring classic cars, including a 1938 Packard Victoria V12 convertible 3-speed.

Dow Bay Area Family YMCA one of nine Michigan organizations recognized as a Hometown Health Hero

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Dow Bay Area Family YMCA to close its doors for much of 2020, but the organization kept serving the public throughout the closure. The YMCA partnered with area organizations to provide food, outdoor exercise classes, and a safe place for kids to learn during the pandemic. This month, the state Department of Health and Human Services recognized the YMCA with a Hometown Health Hero Award. The Bay City organization was one of nine in the state to earn the honor.

Walking through Bay City’s Center Avenue district takes you back in time

In 2020 and 2021, Route Bay City offered our readers two historic architecture walking tours. In November, Route Bay City detailed our first self-guided walking tour of the Center Avenue district. That route lines up perfectly with this one, if you want to walk a little farther. Cross the river and you can stroll through the historic Midland Street district. While you’re walking, read about the history of a few buildings in this area in a Dec. 3 article. Before you embark on those earlier tours, though, here are five additional examples of the wonderful history and beautiful architecture of Center Avenue and the adjacent neighborhoods. As most of these homes were built prior to cars, they are best observed at slow speeds or standstill.
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