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Why People Love Marquette, Michigan

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, 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.


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.

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.

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.

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?


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Questions & Answers

Question: Why did K I Sawyer Air Force base close in 1999?

Answer: According to Wikipedia, K I Sawyer Air Force Base was closed in 1995 because in 1993 the Base Realignment and Closure Commission of the federal government recommended the base for closure. I presume the recommendation was based on the calculation that it would be more cost effective to base elsewhere the bomber and fighter planes at Sawyer. Some of Sawyer AFB became a county airport, Sawyer International, and some of it became an unincorporated residential community still known as Sawyer Air Force Base. The 2016 MLive online article "Poverty in the UP: Down and out in purest Michigan" describes poverty in that community.


BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on June 12, 2020:


Thank you.

We will be traveling by car, but have not decided on a destination.

I guess alot of it depends on what is open.

We had went to Put in bay last summer. I think we should be able to find something along the coast.

I've never been to Michigan, but I have seen pictures of the Mackinac Bridge.

Take care and have a pleasant day.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on June 12, 2020:

I love Marquette, and you might, too, Brenda, if you include it on your vacation.

For summer car trips, I've enjoyed driving any portion of the coast of Lake Superior, in Canada and in the USA. And I've enjoyed car trips that included the Mackinac Bridge, Mackinac Island, and Headlands International Dark Sky Park.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on June 12, 2020:

I enjoyed reading your article.

I am on a quest to find a little place to take a small vaction.

I was thinking Michigan so I came across your article.

Have a great day.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on December 10, 2018:

I agree, Len.

Len Carick.UK on November 29, 2018:

Worked there in the 1980s at Lakeshore Engineering on a US navy contract.

Great place ,great people . Very happy memories.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on March 23, 2018:

Thanks for your comment, Mike. I go back to visit every chance I get.

Mike Hardy from Caseville, Michigan on March 21, 2018:

Marquette is an awesome town that is minutes away from the wilderness. Our son went to NMU and we enjoyed every visit.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on October 01, 2015:

I feel the same, Chantelle.

Chantelle Porter from Ann Arbor on September 28, 2015:

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.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on July 22, 2014:

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.

ologsinquito from USA on July 18, 2014:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on June 16, 2014:

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.

C E Clark from North Texas on June 09, 2014:

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.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on January 10, 2014:

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.

jimmar from Michigan on January 10, 2014:

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)?

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on December 25, 2012:

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

collegedad from The Upper Peninsula on December 23, 2012:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on December 07, 2012:

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

Kerry43 on December 07, 2012:

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!

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on December 06, 2012:

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.

Kerry43 on December 06, 2012:

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;)


Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on October 03, 2012:

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.

Rolly A Chabot from Alberta Canada on September 29, 2012:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on April 03, 2012:

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.

Wayne Brown from Texas on April 03, 2012:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on March 01, 2012:

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

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on March 01, 2012:

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.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on March 01, 2012:

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.

Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on March 01, 2012:

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.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on February 26, 2012:

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

Anaya M. Baker from North Carolina on February 23, 2012:

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!

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on January 15, 2012:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on January 15, 2012:

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

Caitlin Cole on January 12, 2012:

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!

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on January 12, 2012:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on January 12, 2012:

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.?

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