Cannupa Hanska Luger ‘GIFTS’ U-M campus with public art installation

Front facade of University Memorial Hall/UMMA which now features the word GIFT painted in white.

The installation refers to the 1817 Treaty of Fort Meigs, which states that Ottawa, Chippewa, and Potawatomi tribes gifted the land to U-M upon which the Ann Arbor campus stands. The work contributes to a campuswide initiative to challenge University history.

  1. The late, great 98

    Tom Harmon may have been the best college football player ever. His single-handed destruction of Ohio State is the stuff of gridiron legend. But his exploits as a pilot during World War Two made him a hero not just in a game, but in life.

  2. Hail Satan!

    When students come to the university, they face a new world that can shake up their whole way of life. Some fear that even their religious faith will be under siege. But surveys – and students themselves, like Lizzy Lovinger (right) – say that keeping the faith is both a challenge and a blessing.

  3. Exactly how much housework does a husband create?

    Having a husband creates an extra seven hours a week of housework for women, according to a U-M study of a nationally representative sample of U.S. families. For men, the picture is very different: A wife saves men from about an hour of housework a week.

  4. Sensors for bat-inspired spy plane under development

    A six-inch robotic spy plane modeled after a bat would gather data from sights, sounds and smells in urban combat zones and transmit information back to a soldier in real time. That’s the Army’s concept, and it has awarded the University of Michigan College of Engineering a five-year, $10-million grant to help make it happen.

  5. Video: U-M 'ballast-free ship' could cut costs while blocking aquatic invaders

    University of Michigan researchers are investigating a radical new design for cargo ships that would eliminate ballast tanks, the water-filled compartments that enable non-native creatures to sneak into the Great Lakes from overseas.

  6. A piece of history

    Our first U-M History column tells the story of one of our crown jewels: the Clements Library

Let the games begin

When construction crews broke ground on Michigan Stadium in September 1926, workers had to know they were on to something big. Literally. And now the gameday experience is about to get a lot more colorful, vivid, and immersive for fans in the stands as Michigan Athletics unveils two dazzling high-tech scoreboards. At 179 feet wide by 62 feet tall, the viewing area is 120 percent larger than before. On a much smaller scale, Michigan Today offers up this subdued analog version of the Big House’s inception. These images are courtesy of U-M’s Bentley Historical Library. Captions were sourced from “The Michigan Stadium Story” at the Bentley website. Click on any image to enlarge.

  • Visionary

    Michigan Athletic Director Fielding Yost (right) collaborated with architect Bernard Green of the Osborn Engineering Company in Cleveland, Ohio, to design the stadium. The prescient Yost was adamant that the design  allow for future expansion beyond the original capacity of 72,000. It probably didn’t take much to bring along Green, an 1891 graduate of U-M’s College of Engineering.



    Fielding Yost observes construction of Michigan Stadium with foreman. Black and white. Two men wearing white straw skimmers.
  • Building a big house

    In 1926, excavation crews assessed the site where Michigan Stadium now stands. Michigan alum Green was the lead architect on the project, bringing it in on schedule for the fall ’27 season. Ground broke in September. Opening day was Oct. 1, 1927. That day, the Wolverines beat Ohio Wesleyan 33-0.

    1926 construction crews in black and white, with truck, stand at Michigan Stadium site. Looking northeast.
  • We’re golden

    The 1920s are considered the golden decade of college stadium building. Ohio State, Illinois, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Washington, Vanderbilt, and Northwestern all built stadia of 50,000 or more seats in the first half of the decade.

    Earthmoving equipment at Michigan Stadium building site, 1926.
  • Bowl games

    Yost and Green had been exploring stadium designs for two years prior to breaking ground. They agreed that a bowl-type stadium, devoted exclusively to football, would provide the largest capacity at the least cost. Plus, seating along the sidelines would be parallel to the playing field, bringing fans as close as possible to the action.

    Bulldozer down inside the bowl that would become the Michigan gridiron. 1926-27.
  • Came in like a wrecking ball

    Did fans even know they were sitting atop a very high, swampy water table that almost derailed stadium construction? Steam pumps were required to remove water from a number of natural springs unearthed during excavation. Eventually, crews had to raise the level of the playing surface about six feet.


    Construction equipment at big hole where Big House now stand. Image is circa 1926.
  • At odds

    Some students and faculty opposed the idea of an expanded stadium. They feared Yost’s projected crowd of 80,000 fans at these athletic “spectacles” would unleash a bad influence, distorting and corrupting the University’s academic mission.

    Two men amid construction beams wearing straw skimmers circa 1926.
  • Tailgate, OG style

    These are some of the guys who made the plan real. During a break in 1927, Bill Knutson (far left) and Andrew Graf (far right) enjoy a break with loved ones (and an unidentified co-worker).



    Crew members take a break with friends/family near construction site.
  • Almost there

    Due in large part to Yost’s attention to every construction detail (he even observed as seats were being numbered in 1927), Michigan Stadium was finished on time and within budget. In a detailed accounting of construction expenses presented to the Board in Control of Athletics, the total cost was calculated to be $1,131,733.36.

    Seats under construction in Michigan Stadium, 1926. Black and white.
  • Good sports

    On Oct. 22, 1927, U-M captain Bennie Oosterbaan and Ohio Wesleyan captain Theodore Meyer struck a friendly pose for the cameras during the opening ceremony dedication at Michigan Stadium. While the players sported the leather helmets of that time, their stylish female companions donned fur coats for the occasion. Michigan won, 33-0.

    1927 football players and fans at the opening day ceremony of Michigan Stadium. The women appear to be wearing furs. The men have leather helmets.
  • Watch your step

    The approved plan stated that three sides of the stadium would be completely below grade, with the playing surface 50 feet below grade. On the west, north, and south sides, people would enter at street level — and at the top row of seats.

    Shot from below as fans descend the Michigan Stadium steps. Black and white. Vintage.
  • Time marches on

    Over the years, scoreboards have come and gone as technology advances. In 1968, these construction workers expedited a much simpler installation than the one facing their successors in 2023.

    1968 crews swap out the scoreboard at Michigan Stadium.
  • The ultimate

    In June 1941, one-man-show Tom Harmon and actress Anita Louise surveyed the gridiron as it appeared in the Hollywood film, Harmon of Michigan. Not surprisingly, “Old No. 98” eventually packed up and traded the unpredictable Midwest for the perpetually sunny Southern California. And while modern-day football fans may be tempted to follow game action on the giant screens versus the actual field, it’s still a better call than watching Harmon’s less-than-stellar silver screen debut.

    Tom Harmon and a lady observe the empty Michigan Stadium in 1941.
  • Mine’s bigger than yours

    In 1949, U-M Athletics decided to lean into marketing the stadium’s extraordinary capacity of 97,000 when this sign went up near the south scoreboard. Keith Jackson of “ABC Sports” is credited with popularizing the term “Big House.” Michigan Stadium is the largest football stadium in the nation and third-largest in the world with a capacity of 107,601 in 2023.

    1949 sign at Michigan Stadium announces capacity of 97,000.
  • Be prepared

    Yost fought for a clause in the original construction agreement that Michigan Stadium’s footings be constructed to permit future expansion. Never enough seats!


    Two construction workers stand amid forms that will become seats in Michigan Stadium.
  • Deja vu all over again

    In 1967, the University undertook construction of Crisler Arena, walking distance from Michigan Stadium. A never-ending loop of construction, renovation, and demolition of campus facilities —  no matter the year — is one of the few constants in our ever-changing world.

    Finished Michigan Stadium with the beginnings of Crisler Arena.
  • Are you ready for this?

    The existing scoreboards had been installed in 2011 and featured technology that was going obsolete. This rendering illustrates how much larger the new viewing surface will be. The project was self-funded by the athletic department and all costs derived from gifts to Michigan Athletics, specifically restricted to capital improvements. (Rendering courtesy of Michigan Athletics.) Go Blue!

    A rendering of the massive new scoreboards at each end of Michigan Stadium. They are 120 percent larger than before.