In the mid-1800s through the early 1900s, Escanaba was one of Michigan’s busiest ports and most important commercial fisheries. While the volume and intensity of activity has decreased in recent decades, Escanaba’s Bay de Noc shore remains a working waterfront that is vital to the community’s economy. Great Lakes freighters make frequent calls on Escanaba’s port with deliveries of coal and stone and exports of taconite pellets. While commercial fishing in Bay de Noc ceased years ago, sport fishing remains strong and is an important contributor to the local economy.
Escanaba’s City leaders recognized these changes over the years and commissioned Beckett & Raeder, Inc. to produce a Northshore Master Plan that envisions the future of Escanaba’s Northshore. One result of the plan’s public involvement process was the understanding that the Northshore’s maritime and industrial heritage remains an integral part of Escanaba’s identity. It is also a key component of destination tourism along with sport fishing, hunting, hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, and other outdoor activities.
The project team developed a Northshore Master Plan that identified opportunities for multi-use development infill of former industrial properties, better integration of the waterfront with adjacent neighborhoods and downtown, and public space viewing and interpretation of Escanaba’s maritime industries, past and present. Specifically, the plan proposed short and long term goals such as expansion of successful existing maritime industries, neighborhood housing infill, neighborhood commercial centers and public greens, waterfront civic center and outdoor amphitheater, downtown streetscape improvements leading to the waterfront, downtown shopper’s docks, and non-motorized greenways linking the waterfront, downtown, and adjacent neighborhoods.