When local merchants began the Ann Arbor Art Fair in July 1960, South University catered to both townspeople and students. During 40 years of social and political change, the fair grew into a city-wide extravaganza. In the twentieth century, as fraternities, sororities, dormitories, and student rooms concentrated nearby, South University had become a focus of student activity. At this corner in the 1950s and 1960s you could have seen homecoming parades or panty raiders shouting "To the hill!" (women's dorms), in the 1980s a basketball riot, and the 1990s the Naked Mile.
Political activities as well as pranks have always been a part of student life. Earlier students, fueled by alcohol, youth, and boredom, had torn up the town's wooden sidewalks for bonfires, disabled trolley cars, and shouted down presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan. They vigorously debated abolition, temperance, wars, and women's suffrage. During the Vietnam War, Ann Arbor became a center of the nationwide social and political firestorm. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and peace teach-ins originated at UM. Those turbulent years began with civil rights picketing, intensified with antiwar protests, White Panthers, Black Action Movement strikes, and demonstrations for women's liberation and gay rights. "Make love not war!"and "Power to the
people!" affronted middle-class values and expressed the new rebellious spirit that led to hippies, the sexual revolution, and the Hash Bash.
Photos courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library, the Ann Arbor News, and John and Leni Sinclair.