History of Downtown

Downtown Marquette represents the historic center of our City. Many of our buildings are historically significant – and should be preserved to highlight our City’s past.

  • The downtown is a reflection of how the community sees itself… a critical factor in business retention and recruitment. If the downtown is neglected, outsiders will see this neglect as a reflection of the entire community.
  • The downtown represents a significant portion of the City’s tax base. If the district declines, its property values decline, and it increases the tax burden on other parts of the city.
  • The downtown is a major tourist draw. When people come into Marquette, they want to see a unique place. There isn’t another downtown like ours in the world!
  • The downtown is a major business center, representing the largest concentration of businesses in the area.
  • The downtown is a prominent employment center – employing nearly 2,000 people. Second only to Marquette General Hospital (2,918) and preceding NMU (1,147).


More About Marquette

Marquette was founded by Amos Harlow and his expedition leader Peter White. The city was originally named Worcester (pronounced WOOS ter; the “or” spoken like the “oo” in book), after Amos Harlow’s hometown, Worcester, Massachusetts. It is now named for the French explorer Jacques Marquette. Marquette has always been a shipping port for hematite ores and now enriched iron ore pellets from nearby mines and pelletizing plants. The city includes several small islands (principally Middle Island, Gull Island, Lover’s Island, Presque Isle Pt. Rocks, White Rocks, Ripley Rock, and Picnic Rocks) in Lake Superior. The Marquette Underwater Preserve lies immediately offshore. A regional medical center, Marquette General Hospital, serving much of the Upper Peninsula is located in the city. Marquette Mountain, used for skiing, is located in the city, as is the majority of the land of Marquette Branch Prison. Trowbridge Park (an unincorporated part of Marquette Township) is located to the west, and Marquette Township to the northwest of the city.

Marquette is home to the largest wooden dome in the world, the Superior Dome. Northern Michigan University owns the facility and holds its home football games there. The dome also hosts numerous private and public events which draw in thousands from around the region.

South of the city, K.I. Sawyer AFB, was an important Air Force installation during the Cold War, host to B-52H bombers and KC-135 tankers of the Strategic Air Command, as well as a fighter interceptor squadron. The base closed in September 1995, and is now home to the county’s Sawyer International Airport.

In 2004, President George W. Bush made a campaign stop in Marquette, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula since William H. Taft in 1911. Since then President Obama also visited Marquette in 2011. He gave a speech at Northern Michigan University, and also met with the community, eating at our local Donkers restaurant.

The Roman Catholic Bishop Frederic Baraga is buried at St. Peter’s Cathedral.

Marquette is the sister city of Kajaani, Finland and Higashiomi, Shiga, Japan. (Formerly Yokaichi, Japan.)

Marquette in the News

February 2018- Six Great Adventure Towns You’ve Never Heard Of: https://www.redbull.com/us-en/best-unknown-adventure-towns-america

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