Ann Arbor is the county seat of Washtenaw County with a population of 113,271 (2005). The nickname "Tree Town" comes from the dense greenery that graces the city's parks and residential areas. One story details that the city was named both for the founder's wives and for the many stands of Burr Oaks in the area. Today the city is know for it's liberalism. Some have referred to the city as "The People'sRepublic of Ann Arbor" and "25 square miles surrounded by reality." There is a strong arts community in Ann Arbor; traditional and contemporary theater and music have a stronghold, as do the culinary arts.
Ann Arbor is well known for the University of Michigan, and for good cause. The university and it's medical center play a large part in the city's economic health in terms of the number of people it employees. The University is also responsible for Ann Arbor's "college town" feel. Michigan Stadium, known as the "Big House," is the largest American football stadium in the world. U of M's sports teams, which are part of the Big Ten Conference, play there. The university also houses many cultural events, art performances and museums. Nichols Arboretum, which is owned jointly by the U of M and the city, is home to hundreds of different species of trees and plants. The Arb, as locals call it, is one of the city's large parks, stretching across 123 acres located near the University's central campus.
Ann Arbor hosts several arts festivals that brings visitors and locals alike into downtown. This in includes annual events such as the Music Now Fest and the Ann Arbor Arts fair, a four day event of juried fairs; as well as locally produced events, such as the Charles Ives American Music Festival, which combines music and dance. Other local events that reflect the liberal political leans include Hash Bash and the Naked Mile, both of which have been happening each year in Ann Arbor for over two decades.