Ypsilanti, and adjacent Ypsilanti Township, with a combined population of about 74,000, are located on Ann Arbor's eastern border. Many of Ypsilanti's residents work at the businesses and industries located in Ypsilanti; others work in Ann Arbor and surrounding communities, or eastward in the greater Detroit area.
Starting in the 1920's, Ypsilanti began to play a role in the development of the automobile, and auto production continues to be an important part of Ypsilanti's economy today. Ypsilanti really hit the map during World War II, when Henry Ford's Willow Run B-24 bomber plant became the first to produce the planes on an assembly line, turning out one bomber roughly every hour. The Yankee Air Museum and its annual Thunder over Michigan air show at the Willow Run Airport are popular destinations recounting the history of that time.
Ypsilanti is home to Eastern Michigan University, founded in 1849 as Michigan State Normal School; EMU now enrolls about 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students. With 12 parks in the city, and another 30 in the township, recreational opportunities are many. A number of the parks flank the Huron River or Ford Lake, offering access to a variety of water sports. Throughout the year, a number of special events dot the calendar; among the most popular are the Elvisfest and the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival.