Traverse City once had a very unique attraction: a miniature version of itself, right on the south shore of West Grand Traverse Bay. This mini-city, with waist-high replicates of Traverse City downtown structures, was included in Clinch Park along Grandview Parkway.

The idea came from one of the city’s boosters, and retired circus man, Con Foster. He felt it would be a good draw for tourists and put local employees to work. So, in 1931, the process began, with city workers constructing mini-models of the buildings of Traverse City. One hundred duplicates later, the mini city was built at the park. The detail was precise, as many of the old blueprints of the original structures were used.

The mini city also had paved streets, a river, and a mini-train that went through and around town. If a downtown shop was remodeled, so was its duplicate in mini-city. Visitors, locals, tourists, vacationers, and the curious would flock to this park to witness the extreme detail of the mini-city.

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When the highway (Grandview Parkway) opened to traffic in 1953, the tiny town was moved to a different section of the park. It had a good 42-year run: 1931 to 1973, but it finally came to an end. Even though the town was taken down each fall and put up every spring, the lake weather was taking its toll…along with destruction caused by vandals. So, with no money for maintenance or preservation, it was closed permanently.

Many of the original Mini-City displays are stored away at the Music House Museum in Acme, nine miles northeast of Traverse City, along the bay.

The Miniature Traverse City in Clinch Park


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Traverse City Asylum, Re-Visited 2022

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