Downtown Mackinac Island

Downtown Mackinac Island

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by Steven C. Brisson

Mackinac State Historic Parks maintains the largest archive of historic photographs of the Straits of Mackinac. Over the last half-century they have published hundreds of images in our more than 1oo books.

The focus of this volume is images of the “downtown” area of Mackinac Island, from Windermere Point to Mission Point. In 1781, when the British moved the mainland community from Michilimackinac on the south shore of the straits to the island, they placed the fort on the bluff and the civilian community below.

The photographs in this volume date from 1865 to 1990. The earliest capture a community that has just transitioned from a fur trade and fishing village into a summer resort. Most of the landmarks and vistas familiar to the residents at the height of the American fur trade in 1825 were still present in 1865. However, as the photographs demonstrate, the village changed greatly as it adapted to the growing tourist market. Over the next forty years, by 1905, the downtown had changed significantly, and many locations and intersections would not be recognizable by the island’s earlier inhabitants.