Harbor Springs is in a sheltered bay on the north shore of the Little Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan. The Little Traverse Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse on the Harbor Point peninsula that forms the natural harbor there. M-119 connects with US 31 seven mile east and south at Bay View, with Petoskey just five miles away on the south side of the harbor.
Founded by the Jesuits, Harbor Springs was once called L'Arbre Croche, which means Crooked Tree. In 1847, L'Arbre Croche had the largest concentration of Indians in the states. French traders renamed the area Petit Traverse, or Little Traverse, when they arrived in the area. The village was eventually incorporated as Harbor Springs in 1880.
One of the cities more prominent members is the late Ephraim Shay, who was most famous for the invention of the Shay locomotive. The hexagonal shaped house he built in downtown Harbor Springs still stands today. The local elementary school is named after him (Shay Elementary)
The city swells in the summer tourist "season" - which generally ranges from Memorial Day to Labor Day - and has a picturesque, New England feel to it year-round. Popular activities include boating, sailing, strolling on the city pier, playing tennis, and shopping the 4-block downtown area, which boasts an inordinate number of upscale shops for such a small area. The downtown area includes several restaurants, including the historic Mary Ellen's (an authentic '50's-style soda fountain), the local favorite pizza place, Turkey's (named for its owner, who apparently "hobbled like a turkey" when injuring himself during high school football season), and Bar Harbor, famed for its burgers and as a gathering place for yachtsmen. Juilleret's is a popular family-run restaurant that began in 1895 when Joseph and Martha Juilleret opened a boat livery and ice cream parlor on the same location. Juilleret's has remained in the family since, making it Michigan's oldest family-run restrauant. In 1975 the current owner James Juilleret (fourth generation), took over operations of the business. 2007 however, will be the last year that Juilleret's remains opened, saddening many locals. Gurney's Bottle Shop has take-out deli sandwiches complete with homemade bread that are very popular.
Also downtown are a small but thorough bookstore (Between the Covers), the local weekly newspaper, the Harbor Light [Harbor Light http://www.harborlightnews.com], several coffeeshops, fudge shops, and over a dozen art galleries, the destinations of many of the "fudgies" (Northern Michigan-speak for "tourist" because of their frequent fudge purchases) who clog the sidewalks during the summer months. In the winter, the town serves as the base for visiting skiers, as both the Boyne Highlands and Nubs Nob ski resort are only a few miles away, and the town's custom of setting their Christmas tree in the middle of the downtown street has been seen on many postcards.
The town is also just a few miles from neighboring Petoskey, Michigan, which is on the other side of the bay and offers a wider variety of activities including a multiplex movie theater, a thriving downtown area of its own, and several big-box stores.
There were 683 households out of which 23.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.0% were married couples living together, 7.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.8% were non-families. 39.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.88.
In the city the population was spread out with 20.4% under the age of 18, 4.6% from 18 to 24, 22.8% from 25 to 44, 28.3% from 45 to 64, and 23.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47 years. For every 100 females there were 81.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 74.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $35,341, and the median income for a family was $46,750. Males had a median income of $29,236 versus $27,167 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,876. About 5.3% of families and 6.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.5% of those under age 18 and 9.8% of those age 65 or over.