Ishpeming or Negaunee? Your Guide on Where to Live on the West End

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One of our very first blogs published here at Make it Marquette was our “Where to Live in Marquette” article. We’ve had the honor of creating meaningful content for our ambitious town since then, and will continue to do so, but we also recognize that Marquette County isn’t made of just Marquette … we want to make sure we’re honoring our neighbors as well. While it’s often seen as a focal point in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Marquette has never stood alone in this corner of the U.P. There’s incredible culture, opportunity & versatility throughout the greater county. If you had a chance to catch one of our recent People of Marquette pieces featuring May & Dave, it’s difficult not to notice the love that many such Yoopers have for Ishpeming, Negaunee, and the West End as a whole.

With that all-too-familiar feeling of passion in mind, we thought it of the utmost importance to revisit this “Where to Live” topic, but this time, featuring the neighborhoods and towns you can find outside of Marquette. Places like Negaunee, Ishpeming, and their plethora of subdivisions and neighborhoods are all attractive options for Yoopers itching to get swept up in the excitement west of coastal Marquette in the foothills of the Huron Mountains. While they are, admittedly, slightly less bustling than Marquette itself, they’re no less potent. There’s flavor in the West End, in the most satisfyingly unique sense, and along with it comes its own unique assortment of amenities and enriching Michigan-made experiences that you’re sure to fall in love with, just as we have.

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What is the West End?

Before we get into the meat of this article, we wanted to very briefly talk about what the West End…is…exactly? For any of our readers who are perhaps unfamiliar with the region, we’re certain there’ll be some confusion – so let’s clear it up straight away. The West End, essentially, is a term us Yoopers use to refer to the broad area of wonderful mountain towns, lakes & lands that stretch out westwards past Marquette. It isn’t everything west of Marquette, though, it’s mostly everything within about 20 miles of town. The West End, in specific, is where the Iron Ore economy first began in the continental United States. Practically overnight there was an intense demand for miners & workers of all sorts of different trades – and the West End is primarily where those citizens & businesses existed. It’s an area with deep Italian & Finnish roots (the primary immigrants to the area at the time) and, culturally, there’s lots of local nods to that history. Things like our local Italian Fest, or even Heiki Lunta are celebrations that date back to the West End’s earliest years.  

On the topic of history, we have a bit of a disclaimer here for you – before we proceed any further, we wanted to fully admit that this article surrounding the West End, in particular, was a bit tricky to put together. We mentioned this subtle phenomenon in our previous “Where to Live” piece, but what we’ve discovered during our research is that it’s rare to find any clearly defined neighborhoods within most towns in this area. Largely a result of the rapid growth during the early years in Upper Michigan, there’s a whole lot of history in a very compacted amount of time. So there’s lots of crossover & uncertainties.

On a local level, the names of most neighborhoods are rarely official, and where their borders lie are almost purely supported by individual citizen’s opinions. As such, however regrettable it may be, there’s a small chance we’re going to overlook something or unintentionally misrepresent a neighborhood within this article. While we’ve taken care to collect information from key city officials, old maps & long-term residents alike, we encourage you to respond to this article in the comments below with your feedback or suggestions should you believe there’s been a mistake, or if you believe an addition is needed. We’ll take that feedback and amend this article where we find it appropriate, and the result of that effort, hopefully, will be an even stronger representation of our West End.

Thank You. But now –

Where to Live in Negaunee

First up, is historic Negaunee. Founded in 1846, this town was swept up heavily in the early mining & industrial days of the area. Literally built around the initial discovery of Iron Ore in the United States in 1844 by William Burt, you’ll find that the industry still has a lasting impact on the culture of the town, very similar to that of Ishpeming, which we’ll talk about in a few minutes here. The majority of Negaunee’s homes are smaller lots, but they’re great for small or growing families. The City of Negaunee owns all of its utilities as well, so the cost of living is slightly more affordable than some of its neighbors. There’s been a small number of rental properties popping up around town recently, likely a response to the demand for housing closer to Marquette, but it’s important to note that Negaunee is largely comprised of permanent residents. Negaunee has been investing heavily into the entire infrastructure of the town in recent years, something its city officials are quite proud of, and took care to note that there are some incredible incentives and programs that businesses can take advantage of in the downtown area in particular. There’s also quite a lot here that’s walkable. The city hall, schools, library, post office, several bars & restaurants, an outdoors concert space, as well as an amazing park and the Iron Ore Heritage Trail are all just a few blocks away. Closer to the highway, you’ll find Teal Lake, one of the larger lakes in the area – it’s a wonderfully scenic stretch of land that residents rush to take advantage of year-round. With large motors banned from the lake, there’s a lot of kayaking, canoeing, fishing and the like. In the winter time, you’ll catch glimpses of ritual ice fishers & snow kiters out on the frozen waters. Also found in Negaunee, for your recreational pleasure, are: two disk golf courses, cross country ski trails, RAMBA trails and an ice arena.

Historic Downtown Negaunee

Negaunee’s Historic Downtown is quite a unique subdivision, as there’s been some very interesting traffic over the last year or so. The downtown stretch, which runs almost exclusively down Iron Street, holds more than a few of Negaunee’s essentials: bars, a pizzeria, the Vista Theater (currently fundraising for repairs to their damaged roof), a bakery and a cluster of antique shops. There’s been some fascinating development in this subdivision over the last year, and is soon welcoming Negaunee’s newest brewery; the Upper Peninsula Brewing Company early next year. There’s been a number of commercial renovations and older buildings being gutted and repurposed. Also the site of the start of the yearly Ore 2 Shore bike race, Historic Downtown Negaunee is well-known throughout the area, and if you’re lucky enough to snag an apartment or a house in this part of town, you’ll rarely find the need to drive anywhere. Almost everything you need is within a few blocks. If you’re hoping for a small-town, yet city-esque experience, Negaunee’s Historic Downtown just might be for you.

Beverly Hills

On the east side of Teal Lake, north of the highway, you’ll find locally-known Beverly Hills, first established around the 1940’s. The lots in this subdivision are slightly larger than the majority of homes in town, since they were built much later in Negaunee’s history, but they’re also harder to get into. Like we mentioned a little earlier, a large population of Negaunee is made up of permanent residents, and you’ll find a solid chunk of them here. Being so close to the lake, as well as nearby grocery, shopping, banks, schools & local services, Beverly Hills remains one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in town.

Teal Lake Estates

The Teal Lake Estates are the newest homes built in Negaunee. On the west side of Teal Lake, opposite Beverly Hills, they overlook an epic scene of the cliffs & rock faces that make up the naturally-preserved north side of the lake. The Teal Lake Estates are some of the few homes in Negaunee with Teal Lake frontage, so you should expect these homes to also be some of the pricier in town, as well as the hardest to snag. These homes are also nestled near the highway, which passes overhead just up the hill, so expect some small amounts of traffic noise. This is purely a residential neighborhood, so for access to any grocery stores or shops, you’ll need to commute a few short minutes into town.

Native Hills

East of Beverly Hills, further from Teal Lake is what we’re calling “Native Hills”. Many of our locals know this neighborhood by a different name, which we’ve collectively agreed to omit from this article out of respect for the Native American Tribes that the streets are historically named after – but not wanting to exclude this very genuine neighborhood from our list, we believe it important to mention nonetheless. Mostly a cul-de-sac neighborhood, with its medium-sized lots & homes very rarely on the market, an interesting fact about this small neighborhood – according to city officials – is that a number of the neighbors banded together and collectively purchased a large plot of land just north of this area, making the land behind most of the houses essentially the entire neighborhood’s shared backyard. Expect a wide range of prices on these homes should you be lucky enough to see one pop up on the market, as an example – one recent listing that we happened across was upwards of $700k.

Camelot (Camelot Development)

Back on the south side of the highway, Camelot’s slightly newer homes wrap around the local Irontown Baseball Field on the east side of Negaunee. The homes in this neighborhood were built as a city development, are larger, and a bit pricier than Negaunee’s average.

Airport Circle Development

Located just northwest of the TV6 News Station, further east of Negaunee, you’ll find something called the Airport Circle Development. A somewhat underknown housing area, this is actually where a local airport used to be – hence the name. There aren’t too, too many homes here, but there’s been more than a few gorgeous lots popping up recently for would-be-builders. Originally sectioned off into .5 acre lots, the development didn’t quite take off as a new residential area as anticipated when it was first founded, but like we mentioned, people are seizing the opportunity to build themselves here lately. There’s lots of trails & access to nature out this way, and also benefits from a lower tax rate from the city as well. It’s also worth noting, that further out from the original development, there’s some really nice (and large) lots to be found, so be sure to keep this on your radar if any of this sounds appealing.

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Where to Live in Ishpeming

Heading just a bit further west, you’ll quickly discover the city of Ishpeming. Originally founded in the mid-1800s, Ishpeming was similarly built around the rapidly expanding iron ore industry, becoming a fast, thriving industrial hotspot in the area – just like Negaunee. As a result of The Great Depression, as well as shifting iron prices, however, Ishpeming & the surrounding town’s ore trade slowed to a crawl. Mines and plants were shut down, and the area’s large population of industrial workers began to shuffle elsewhere to make their living. The town sat in a bit of an economic hiatus for a number of years as a result, but over the last few decades or so, Ishpeming has been in a complete resurgence – promising to soon be a top cultural contender in Upper Michigan.

Alongside its strategic city development and wholesome community investments, those who call Ishpeming their home are eager to see the town continue to flourish. Ishpeming consists largely of older victorian-style homes, however not without its newer homes & neighborhoods. Its downtown area has been seeing tremendous growth & refurbishment over recent years, all while paying respect to the town’s vibrant history. Velodrome, one of Marquette’s top coffee shops & roasteries, has recently announced the opening of their new secondary location right in the heart of downtown Ishpeming. Partridge Creek Farms, as an added example of local happenings, has been quietly expanding their acreage across Ishpeming recently. Inhabiting a number of repurposed empty lots scattered throughout town, Partridge Creek Farms encourages the community to get hands-on with growing their own natural foods, and even hosts community events and sells their fresh produce out of their storefront downtown.

Ishpeming’s neighborhoods are stitched together by great trails (including the Iron Ore Heritage Trail!) & a general love its citizens embody for the outdoors. Accompanying those amenities, you’ll find Ishpeming remarkably well-connected. Within walking distance of the city hall is the local high school and library, as well as some general shopping, antiquing, a pharmacy and a local bank. Next to Marquette, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more passionate mixture of outdoors & recreation enthusiasts. Ishpeming is actually the birthplace of organized skiing, which may surprise you, and is also where you can find the U.S. National Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame. The Marji Gesik, also, is a grueling, 100-mile national bike race that plants its finish line right in downtown Ishpeming every year. For these reasons, and many more, Ishpeming is a quick recommendation for starting or established families looking for an affordable place to live – especially if you’re itching to sink your teeth into one of the most nurturing outdoors communities in Upper Michigan. You’ll find Ishpeming just a quick 15-minute drive west of Marquette, with public transit options available to and from. If you’re looking at Ishpeming with a business mind, however, we encourage you to get in touch with the folks running the Gossard Building right downtown. We had a chance to work with them recently for another article, and found that they’re actively searching for new local businesses and entrepreneurs to inhabit some of their unoccupied spaces scattered throughout their historic commercial building.

West Ishpeming

Now that you have a general sense of Ishpeming, let’s dive into some of its subdivisions, shall we? West Ishpeming is located…well, on the west side of town. You might be surprised to learn that West Ishpeming is actually considered an unincorporated community, with roughly 2,500 current residents. West Ishpeming feels like an expansion of Ishpeming itself, so you’ll notice that it contains a slightly larger percentage of those newer, more expensive homes in town. West Ishpeming comes complete with its own schools, restaurants and other service-based businesses. There’s some light, friendly rivalry swirling in the air between West Ishpeming & Ishpeming proper, according to certain city officials, but the two areas are equally enticing, and effortlessly complement each other in almost every way.

Historic Downtown Ishpeming

Recently recognized on the National Register of Historic Districts, Ishpeming’s downtown is the potent, cultural epicentre of Ishpeming. Businesses are scrambling to find spaces to occupy on almost every block, and we don’t blame them! Ishpeming’s downtown is made up of some incredible historic (and gorgeous) buildings, absolutely chalked full of cultural history. That being said, there isn’t much residential activity in this district. There’s a few scattered apartments, and many business owners live directly above their shops & stores, but as far as actual housing goes – you’ll find some older, two-story homes & smaller lots scattered throughout – most of which will be spoken for.

The Eighth Edition

Built in the early 1950’s, The Eighth Edition is considered one of the quieter, newer neighborhoods around town. Located north of Highway 41 – opposite Ishpeming itself – this is a great area for those seeking out some of Ishpeming’s more expensive homes. There’s a large recreational area north of the edition, as well as a small lake. The Birchview Elementary School is really close by, so if you’re starting a family, this could be a great spot for those exciting first few years.

Wabash Heights

North of Downtown Ishpeming, just south of Highway 41, you’ll find Wabash Heights. Circled by Wabash Road & Malton Road, this small subdivision is for those looking for larger lots and bigger homes.

Cleveland/Salisbury/Saginaw/New York/Junction/Deer Lake Locations

An interesting tidbit of historical information here for you – the ‘locations’ mentioned above are all small residential districts in the Ishpeming area, built primarily by the accompanying mining companies as a way to attract, and house their workers closer to the mines themselves. Salisbury Location, as an example, was founded south of Ishpeming – walking distance from the Salisbury Iron Mine back when it was in operation until the mid 1920’s. Each of these ‘locations’ contain homes with strikingly similar lots & layouts, to minimize construction headaches for the mining companies when they were being built. Most being constructed around the same time, these homes are also some of the oldest around town, and while you may find one or two pop onto the market, they’re largely family-owned properties with permanent residents dating back to the early mining days for the area.

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Honorable Mentions

492 Area

Connecting Marquette & Negaunee just south of the highway, 492 County Road runs about 9 miles, featuring a string of scattered lots and wooded homes for a slightly more rustic Michigan experience, all while providing relatively quick access to the larger towns & their amenities. Notoriously pummeled with lake-effect snow from Mother Superior, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared for the winter conditions that frequent this stretch before you start adding real estate listings to your wishlist.

510 Area

Northwest of Marquette, eventually crossing into Ishpeming Township you’ll find County Road 510. Not too many people live out this way, but there’s a whole lot to explore. With the Noquemanon Cross Country Ski Trail Head nearby, and with some lots overlooking the Dead River in some areas, houses here can easily get into the 200k-300k price range. They’re larger homes with plenty of land, usually a minimum of at least 5 acres per property. There’ll be North basin Drive and Whitebear Subdivision to check out, tucked away into their wooded areas, but there’s also plenty of private drives and roadways, so we encourage you to employ the help of some locals or real estate agents before you start wandering around too much.

In Conclusion

No matter where you want to bring your next chapter into the Marquette area, rest assured that the communities of both Marquette and the West End are eager to welcome you. Ishpeming, Negaunee, Gwinn, and everywhere in between – they’re conjoined and committed to an evolving vision of Upper Michigan, and we here at Make it Marquette are beyond excited to see who you’ll be calling your “neighbors” next. With such incredible history & cultural nuance that exists within our unique corner of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, our towns and their neighborhoods are as sturdy as they are astonishing. Be sure to check out the rest of the Blog for a variety of articles that may help to better familiarize you with the area, as well as our People of Marquette series for an unapologetic celebration of the individuals whose strengths you’ll find making immeasurable differences in your communities. Now get settled in, and we’ll see you around!