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Why People Love Marquette, Michigan

Updated on March 6, 2017
B. Leekley profile image

Brian and his wife are honorary Yoopers, having lived in Marquette year-around from 2002 to 2006. They love going back to visit friends.

Marquette County, Michigan map
Marquette County, Michigan map | Source

Marquette, Michigan is one of my favorite cities. I am not the only one, by far, to be enchanted by it. I have heard quite a few anecdotes about persons who visited Marquette and stayed or returned there to live – like a man who gave up a successful career as a company representative in northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana to instead eke out a living in Marquette as a freelance carpenter, or like a woman whose car broke down in Marquette and who stayed.

In good times or bad, there are not a lot of job openings in the Upper Peninsula, but for those lucky enough to have at least a get-by income, the U.P. is a bit of heaven on earth (for those who love lots of snow and very long winters), and Marquette is a small city with a charm of its own.

Location

The city of Marquette is located on the south shore of Lake Superior, on the northern coast of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Because of the city's location on Marquette Bay, the lake locally is to the east of the city. The coordinates for downtown Marquette at Washington Street and Third Street are 46°32'36.78"N 87°23'43.48"W. Elevation above sea level ranges from 180m (590.5ft) at the lakeshore to 223m (731.6ft) on the outskirts of the city to 443m (1,453.4ft) a few miles inland. There are hills within the city. Move a cursor over the city in Google Earth to see the elevation go up and down.

Marquette is 182 miles north of Green Bay, Wisconsin; 298 miles north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; 454 miles north of Chicago, Illinois; 164 miles west of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (the second largest city in the U.P.); 173 miles northwest of St. Ignace, Michigan, which is on the U.P. end of the Mackinac Bridge; 460 miles northwest of Detroit, Michigan; 252 miles east of Duluth, Minnesota; and 377 miles northeast of Minneapolis, Minnesota. All distances are downtown to downtown by car according to Google Maps. For Marquetters to go for shopping and fun to the nearest larger city, Green Bay, Wisconsin, it is a 3.5 hour drive each way.

A markerMarquette, MI -
Marquette, MI, USA
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County Statistics

County Population 2010: 65,884
Total Housing Units: 34,681
Median Home Value: $121,400
Home Ownership Rate: 74.4%
Median Household Income: $45,711
Feb 2010 Total Labor Force: 35,907
Feb 2010 Unemployment: 11.0%
Education: K-12 schools 9,916 students; Northern Michigan University 9,428 students
Climate: [averages] Summer High 70F; Winter High 27F; Annual Snowfall 184.7 inches. [7]

Some City and County Facts

With a 2015 population of 21,297, the city of Marquette is the largest municipality in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Marquette is the seat of Marquette County and is the regional center for commerce, recreation, education (Northern Michigan University), and health care (Marquette General Hospital). Marquette is in the Eastern Time Zone.

Around Town in Marquette, Michigan

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A Marquette downtown street sceneForest view from downtown Marquette -- I think from near the Marquette Food Co-opMarquette Tower clock.  I think they drop a snowball from the tower at midnight on New Years Eve.Donkers sells yummy candies.  President Obama lunched here when he visited Marquette.I love the Sweet Water Cafe menu. I worked baking bread there when I lived in Marquette. The customer area is serene, and the kitchen area is jumping with busy creativity. St. Peter CathedralWinter scene in Marquette
A Marquette downtown street scene
A Marquette downtown street scene | Source
Forest view from downtown Marquette -- I think from near the Marquette Food Co-op
Forest view from downtown Marquette -- I think from near the Marquette Food Co-op | Source
Marquette Tower clock.  I think they drop a snowball from the tower at midnight on New Years Eve.
Marquette Tower clock. I think they drop a snowball from the tower at midnight on New Years Eve. | Source
Donkers sells yummy candies.  President Obama lunched here when he visited Marquette.
Donkers sells yummy candies. President Obama lunched here when he visited Marquette. | Source
I love the Sweet Water Cafe menu. I worked baking bread there when I lived in Marquette. The customer area is serene, and the kitchen area is jumping with busy creativity.
I love the Sweet Water Cafe menu. I worked baking bread there when I lived in Marquette. The customer area is serene, and the kitchen area is jumping with busy creativity. | Source
St. Peter Cathedral
St. Peter Cathedral | Source
Winter scene in Marquette
Winter scene in Marquette | Source

A Winter Drive in Marquette

Personal Impressions of Marquette

My wife and I lived in Marquette for four years, 2002 to 2006. They were good, fondly remembered years on her and my life journeys. Here I will just share some general impressions and random memories, tinted by nostalgia.

I remember that whenever I was away to visit family and friends and returned, when I had started driving that less than five miles stretch of highway from Harvey to Marquette and came around a curve as the highway started following the Lake Superior shoreline and, across Marquette Bay, Marquette came into view, I always had a happy to be home feeling. That may have been because the drive across the U.P. from Escanaba to Marquette is a gauntlet in which the challenges are to not slide off the road on black ice miles from anywhere and to not hit a deer or, worse, a moose,

I grew up in Winthrop Harbor, Illinois, and whenever I bicycled the half mile to Lake Michigan to play on the beach, I liked to gaze into the distance over the lake. I would get an instant feeling of serenity, a mellow calming and quiet joy. Gazing out over Lake Superior in Marquette was like that, too, which is why I liked to often sit or stroll in Lower Harbor Park or Presque Isle Park.

I was a flatlander all of my life until I lived in Marquette. The U.P. is mostly uplands of very ancient rock, and Marquette is built on several hills. It is the first place I lived where one is more likely to look up or down a hill instead of straight ahead to look at buildings, and this new perspective added to my sense of being in a magical place.

What makes Marquette and environs enchanting? The scenery -- forested rocky highlands, the great lake, the architectures of the town, etc. -- is a factor. The forest comes right up to the city, and while I lived there, the local newspaper sometimes had stories and photos of a beer or a moose in town. Deer were common.

The air is another factor. I wonder if living by forest and water gives people an extra shot of oxygen that induces contentment, joy, and energy?

Another factor that at least for me was cause for wonderment was that in the summer the sun sets as late a 9:46 p.m., with twilight lasting till nearly 10:30.

In my experience, another factor is the people of Marquette and vicinity. They are very nice. From my wife's and my first visit until we moved away years later, that was a notable quality in Marquetters. The tellers in blue jeans in the banks and credit unions were nice; the store clerks were nice; people we got to know were nice; my employers and fellow employees were nice; people demonstrating on opposite sides of an issue were nice. When people face long, snowy winters in a somewhat isolated little city and when a pillar of the local economy is tourism, people learn to be nice to each other to get along and to visitors to make a living.

And I loved Sweet Water Cafe on Third Street, with its fresh foods creatively prepared. The dining area was tranquil, and the kitchen was high energy. Sweet water is sugar maple sap before it is turned into maple syrup, and they serve it in season;

Or maybe the enchantment is just the spirit of the place, some sort of psychic or angelic force that, whatever is happening in my life, brings me an inexplicable emotional background joy while there.

Marquette, Michigan Views of Lake Superior

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Marquette Michigan Fire Bell Tower at Washington St. and Lakeshore Blvd.Mattson Lower Harbor ParkThis abandoned iron ore dock is a Marquette landmarkAnother view of the abandoned iron ore dockView from Presque Isle Park of Northern Michigan University Superior dome and of part of a working iron ore dock. Trains bring ore from a mine and ships take it away.Breakwater light at Marquette, MichiganAnother view of the breakwater light at Marquette, MichiganView of some sailboats in Lower Harbor at Marquette, MichiganA winter view of the Lake Superior shore looking toward the U. S. Coast Guard Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, preserved by the Marquette Maritime Museum
Marquette Michigan Fire Bell Tower at Washington St. and Lakeshore Blvd.
Marquette Michigan Fire Bell Tower at Washington St. and Lakeshore Blvd. | Source
Mattson Lower Harbor Park
Mattson Lower Harbor Park | Source
This abandoned iron ore dock is a Marquette landmark
This abandoned iron ore dock is a Marquette landmark | Source
Another view of the abandoned iron ore dock
Another view of the abandoned iron ore dock | Source
View from Presque Isle Park of Northern Michigan University Superior dome and of part of a working iron ore dock. Trains bring ore from a mine and ships take it away.
View from Presque Isle Park of Northern Michigan University Superior dome and of part of a working iron ore dock. Trains bring ore from a mine and ships take it away. | Source
Breakwater light at Marquette, Michigan
Breakwater light at Marquette, Michigan | Source
Another view of the breakwater light at Marquette, Michigan
Another view of the breakwater light at Marquette, Michigan | Source
View of some sailboats in Lower Harbor at Marquette, Michigan
View of some sailboats in Lower Harbor at Marquette, Michigan | Source
A winter view of the Lake Superior shore looking toward the U. S. Coast Guard Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, preserved by the Marquette Maritime Museum
A winter view of the Lake Superior shore looking toward the U. S. Coast Guard Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, preserved by the Marquette Maritime Museum | Source

UP 200 Dog Sled Race countdown

Why My Wife and I Would Love to Live Again in Marquette

My wife and I lived in Marquette 2002 to 2006. We went back to visit for a few days in October 2012. We stayed with friends who live a few miles from town in a house they built themselves from trees on their land. We saw changes in the city -- more condominiums and a hotel on the downtown lake front, a Best Buy store on the edge of town, a stop sign intersection turned into a round-about. Most changes are within a city plan that balances preserving charm and gaining tax revenue. Marquette to me was still an enchanted city. It was a joy just to stroll the streets. I can't explain why. Do Lake Superior and the forest put lots of ions in the air? Do the residents, happy with their good luck to be living there, emit good vibrations? Is the city under the charm of Heikki Lunta?

Poll

Do you, did you, or would you love living in or near Marquette, Michigan, assuming at least a frugal living income??

See results

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    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Author comment to viewers: Please say if you spot any typos or other errors of commission or omission. And do you have any good memories of Marquette and the U.P.?

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      My wife and I do want to explore the upper peninsula and she loves Lake Superior. I hope we can get up there soon.

    • profile image

      Caitlin Cole 5 years ago

      Awesome pictures! I also like the authors personal comments on his time living there. I would not have thought it was so pretty and watery there, now I do!

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks for commenting, dahoglund. Hope you'll love the U.P. like I did. And you'll probably find the local history interesting.

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, Caitlin. Yes, Marquette is quite picturesque. Someone who likes snow and likes water would likely like living there.

    • Anaya M. Baker profile image

      Anaya M. Baker 5 years ago from North Carolina

      I was about to say that Marquette looks very picturesque, then saw another reader beat me to it! I've never been to the Michigan area of the country, but I grew up in upstate New York, so I know all about that heavy lake effect snow. Looks like you get your share over there in Marquette!

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks for commenting, Anaya. Yes Marquette is picturesque, and I've missed it. I hope sometime I can visit upstate New York.

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 5 years ago from West Virginia

      Voted up and all across but funny. I can appreciate all your hard work and research on this article. This is such a beautiful place. I have always wanted to live in Michigan. You truly have captured the beauty of Marquette. I know Marquette plays college basketball in the Big East. I have watched them play West Virginia in Morgantown before. I never knew it was in Michigan. Great article with great resources, information, and links.

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, thelyricwriter. Note that Marquette University is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That might be the team that plays Big East basketball. Northern Michigan University is in the city of Marquette, Michigan. Their basketball team is in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Yes, Michigan has some beautiful areas. I've heard that West Virginia does, too.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I did not know anything about this place and so appreciate the info. Sounds like the harbor and lighthouse might be worth a visit. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      To experience countryside that for beauty rivals northern CA, I recommend a trip around Lake Superior.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 5 years ago from Texas

      Thank you for that tour of Marquette. This is one of the regions of America that I have not had the opportunity to visit. It is amazing that one can drive 8 hours north of Chicago and still be in America. You paint a beautiful picture of a lovely city that still hangs on to a small town atmosphere. The reference to the iron ore reminded me of the iron boats on the lakes and I thought immediately of the Edmund Fitzgerald which I written about here on the Hub. Thanks so much for sharing. WB

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks for commenting, Wayne. Hope you get a chance to visit the north country. A beautiful drive is around Lake Superior. Or consider hiking some of the North Country Trail, which starts in Maine and ends in North Dakota and passes near Marquette. Re your state, Texas, I've a few times traveled across and been awed by the immense sky and far horizons of the Texas panhandle.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi B Leekly... what a great article of your part of the world... I have friends that live in Michigan and from your pictures and article I can tell why... Thank you for sharing your part of the world...

      Blessings and Hugs from Canada

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, Rolly. I wrote another Michigan hub, too, about Kalamazoo, Michigan, where I am living now.

      I lived for some years in Canada. One of the most beautiful drives I've seen anywhere is the one on Ontario Route 17 across the top of Lake Superior. But then I have not yet seen the wonders of the Canadian Rockies.

    • profile image

      Kerry43 4 years ago

      Wow, tons of info here for the tourist in me. I haven't been any further north than Illinois yet, but we plan to do some traveling in the next five years, so this is going on my list. What exquisite views of the water!

      Thank you;)

      Kerry

    • B. Leekley profile image
      Author

      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks for commenting, Kerry43. Consider a drive around Lake Superior. One of my favorite summertime scenic drives (at least back decades ago when I took it) was the Canadian highway that goes across the top of Lake Superior. About Marquette and the UP, be careful, because I've known more than one case of a person coming to visit and staying to live, though that meant giving up a lot.

    • profile image

      Kerry43 4 years ago

      Hi B, well I have moved to the U.S. from Aussie, so it's only a tiny hop to go that bit further lol. ;)

      Thanks for the additional input. Sounds like a lovely place!

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      A young man neighbor, a tennis coach, just moved out today, on his way back to Australia. I hope you're liking the USA.

    • collegedad profile image

      collegedad 4 years ago from The Upper Peninsula

      I recently moved back to the Marquette area. I can't think of a better place to live than the Upper Peninsula. Great hub!

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, collegedad. Congratulations on your good luck to be able to live in the Marquette area. I hope you write lots of Yooper hubs.

    • jimmar profile image

      jimmar 3 years ago from Michigan

      Nice hub. I was raised in Marquette / Harvey. Our family moved to the southern LP when I was 12 years old (1970) but I still have fond memories. We lived on Bluff street then moved to Harvey right on lake Superior. My folks ran some TP shaped cottages called the TeePee Resort. Sadly the place is very run down now. When I visit the UP and eventually return to LP I feel like I'm leaving home. Did you ever visit Sugar Loaf Mountain or wade over to Little Presque Isle (island)?

    • B. Leekley profile image
      Author

      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Marquette is very high on my short list of places where I want to live or to visit as often as possible. I have added visiting Sugar Loaf Mountain and wading over to Little Presque Isle to my to do in the UP list.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 2 years ago from North Texas

      Think I was in Michigan somewhere along the shores of Lake Superior just north of the Wisconsin border a little ways. It was a long time ago. It was June and very chilly with a good breeze coming off the lake.

      Lots of beautiful country in northern Wisconsin and up into Michigan. Enjoyed your article. Voted it up and interesting. Also pinned to my 'Travel board.

    • B. Leekley profile image
      Author

      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Yes, the "north country" of northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan is wonderful -- even with the mosquitoes, deer flies, no-see-ums, black flies, ticks, and leeches. My favorite north woods drive is across the top of Lake Superior, from Sudbury to Thunder Bay in northern Ontario in Canada. Drive it in the summer or fall, because during the long winter, the resort owners are in Florida, and it is a long ways between towns.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

      It looks really nice. The lake must be a beautiful backdrop.

    • B. Leekley profile image
      Author

      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Yes, ologsinquito, and Lake Superior is very much a part of the economic and social life of the community, with shipping, boating, fishing, swimming,and shoreline recreation.

    • Chantelle Porter profile image

      Chantelle Porter 20 months ago from Chicago

      That was a lovely article. I grew up in Marquette and moved away as an adult but I do miss it. I don't get back much but I would like to.

    • B. Leekley profile image
      Author

      Brian Leekley 19 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      I feel the same, Chantelle.

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