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Grand Rapids: History

Grand Rapids: History

Grand River Valley Site of Land Feud

About 2,000 years ago, the Hopewell Indians planted roots at the rapids near the Grand River. Their presence is still seen in the preserved burial mounds southwest of the city. By the late 17th century, the Ottawa tribe had set up villages on the west bank of the Grand River at the site of present day Grand Rapids. Several Baptist mission buildings were completed in the vicinity in 1826. That same year Louis Campau, a French fur trader, settled in the region, establishing a trading post on the east river bank. Local Native Americans nicknamed him "The Fox" for his shrewd trading skills. Campau purchased 72 acres for $90 in 1831 in what is now the downtown area and named it the Village of Grand Rapids. A land surveyor named Lucius Lyon acquired the platted land to the north and named it the Village of Kent, causing a raging land feud with Campau. By 1838 the Michigan legislature combined both tracts of land to form the Village of Grand Rapids. The area incorporated as a city in 1850.

Inexpensive, fertile land and abundant timber and mineral resources attracted settlers to the area, and by 1860 the population numbered 8,000, more than tripling in 10 years. By then, rail and telegraph had come to Grand Rapids, connecting the community to all parts of the country with travel from the eastern seaboard taking only two days.

Logging Fuels Grand Rapids Development

Grand Rapids began a period of rapid development in the 1850s when logs from Michigan's rich pine and oak forests floated down the Grand River to the city's new mills. After the Civil War, many soldiers found jobs as lumberjacks cutting logs and guiding them down the river with pike poles, peaveys, and cant hooks. The men wore bright red flannel, felt clothes, and spiked boots to hold them onto the floating logs; these boots chewed up the wooden sidewalks and flooring of the local bars, leading one hotel owner to supply carpet slippers to all river drivers who entered his hotel. The "jacks" earned $1 to $3 per day and all the "vittles" they could eat, which was usually a considerable amount.

Upstream mill owners often stole the logs headed for Grand Rapids in a practice called "hogging." To prevent hogging, the mills hired men called river drivers, who rode the logs downstream to their rightful destination. In addition, like cattle, all logs were stamped with the brands of their owners so they could be sorted at the log booms and sent to a specific sawmill. From 1865 to the 1880s the logging industry dominated the local economy. The river also harnessed energy. One of the first hydro-electric plants in the United States was built in Grand Rapids.

River ice and log jams proved to be a continual problem for Grand Rapids. A series of floods and heavy rains that launched runaway logs caused repeated damage to the town, notably in 1838, 1852, and 1883. In 1883, so much rain fell one summer's day that an estimated 80 million board feet of logs broke free and jammed against a railroad bridge, creating what some called the biggest log jam in the nation's history. The bridge swayed, bent, groaned, and finally broke away as part of it was carried steadily down the river. Called the Great Log Jam of 1883, the event was spectacular but also marked the beginning of the end for logging on the Grand River.

Furniture Craftsmanship Gains World Attention

Because of the plentiful supply of fine wood, furniture had been manufactured in Grand Rapids as early as 1838, but it was not until the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 that the city gained national recognition for its furniture craftsmanship. Bedroom, dining room, library, and hall furniture made of oak, ash, and maple gained mass popularity. Two years later Grand Rapids held its first furniture mart, attracting buyers worldwide who appreciated the fresh styles and quality work. One of the innovations Grand Rapids manufacturers brought to the furniture industry was catalogs of photographs and color drawings that were distributed throughout the nation.

By 1890, Grand Rapids was home to the nation's largest furniture companies; they set the tone for creative designs, new manufacturing processes and equipment, retailing networks, and inventive marketing schemes. The city ranked third, behind only New York and Chicago, in the amount of furniture its factories produced. Nearly one-third of all city laborers worked in the industry. The high paying and plentiful jobs attracted a large number of immigrantsDutch, German, Polish, and other northern Europeans. Grand Rapids grew from slightly more than 10,000 residents at the end of the Civil War to nearly 90,000 by 1900. One-third of the city's population had been born in another country by that time.

In Europe, Grand Rapids was best known as the home of Tanglefoot rather than producer of fine furniture. Flies were a nuisance, then as now. An ordinary druggist named Otto Thum developed a sticky paper that not only caught and held flies, but even attracted them. The company is still in existence along with its century old "secret formula."

Another long lived, prosperous Grand Rapids company is Bissell, founded in 1876 and considered the pioneer in the carpet sweeper industry. With the death of company head Melville Bissell in 1889, his wife Anna assumed leadership and became America's first female corporate CEO. She was light-years ahead of her time as an aggressive and innovative manager. Under her guidance, the company developed many new products and expanded the business internationally. Still privately owned, Bissell continues to be an industry pioneer, bringing innovative home- and floor-care products to the international marketplace.

Turn of the Century Brings Changes to Grand Rapids

Depletion of Michigan's forests put an end to the logging industry, requiring furniture companies to import lumber, as they still do today. Due to a nationwide industry slump between 1905 and 1910, furniture workers received only minimal raises or none at all. This, combined with extremely long hours and poor working conditions, led to 3,000 workers striking in 1911 demanding a 9-hour day, a 10 percent wage increase, and the abolition of pay based on piecework. After four months, the strike ended, but later management granted most of the laborer's requests.

The Grand Rapids residential furniture industry never fully recovered after that strike. World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II led to lessening demand for residential furniture and the Grand Rapids furniture companies did not make the transition well during the war economies. Many companies went under or moved south to be closer to a larger lumber supply.

With the end of World War II, a two decades long construction boom began and countless new office buildings were erected throughout the nation and worldwide. Some Grand Rapids companies had begun making fine wood and metal furniture for offices in the early 1900s; they now saw tremendous demand. Steelcase grew from 34 employees in 1912 to become the largest office furniture company worldwide with more than 19,000 people. Because of the many office furniture companies in close proximity, Grand Rapids is now known as the nation's office furniture capital. Experience with wood and metal and a traditional entrepreneurial spirit led to a diversifying economy. No one industry dominates the metropolitan area manufacturers, but furniture, industrial machinery, metals, plastics, food processing, and printing are core industrial clusters.

As with other cities after World War II, many Grand Rapids-based families fled to the suburbs and the city's population began to decline along with the downtown area. In the mid 1990s, Grand Rapids began experiencing a renaissance, with more than $200 million in new cultural, recreational, and sports facilities. Downtown revitalization included the 12,000-seat Van Andel Arena for sports, concerts, and entertainment events; the Van Andel Institute, an independent medical research center; and the refurbishing of many warehouses into retail space and loft apartments. The new millennium has seen even more new projects and expansions. The $210 million De Vos Place project incorporates De Vos Hall and the old Grand Center convention space in a new one-million-square-foot facility, which was completed in 2005. Millennium Park is a 10-year restoration of 1500 acres of industrial land that includes a new beach. New parks, residences, shopping venues, restaurants, and other revitalization projects that mark a new beginning for Grand Rapids abound.

Historical Information: Grand Rapids Public Library, Michigan and Family History Collection, 111 Library St., NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503; telephone (616)456-3640

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Grand Rapids: Recreation

Grand Rapids: Recreation

Sightseeing

The Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids honors the 38th President of the United States; permanent exhibits, including a replica of the Oval Office, highlight the significant events of the Ford presidency, such as the Bicentennial celebration, President Nixon's resignation, and the Cambodian conflict. The contributions of Betty Ford as First Lady are also represented.

The Public Museum of Grand Rapids concentrates on the furniture industry, Michigan mammals, archeology, costumes, an 1890s gaslight village and Native American artifacts.

Heritage Hill is one of the largest urban historic districts in the country. Located near downtown, it contains more than 1,300 structures built in 60 different architectural styles, including Frank Lloyd Wright's Meyer May house.

A Grand Rapids highlight is Alexander Calder's La Grande Vitesse (The Grand Rapids), a large-scale outdoor sculpture located in the center of the city. Another Calder work, an abstract painting, has been installed atop the County Building adjacent to the sculpture. Joseph Kinnebrew's Fish Ladder sculpture has been placed on the Sixth Street dam. Noted architect and artist Maya Lin (designer of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C.) designed Rosa Parks Circle, a park and amphitheater located in the downtown Monroe Center.

The 150-passenger sternwheeler Grand Lady offers a narrated river cruise pointing out the river landings and town sites of the 1800s.

The John Ball Zoo features more than 237 species and 1,183 specimens. Recent additions include a komodo dragon and a chimpanzee exhibit.

Arts and Culture

The Arts Council coordinates the Festival of the Arts, the largest volunteer-run festival in the nation and a showcase of the arts. The arts in Grand Rapids are celebrated for three days each June with more than one-half million attendees. During the regular season, the Grand Rapids Symphony, an award-winning orchestra recognized for its innovative programming, presents a program of classical, pops, and family concerts. Opera Grand Rapids is the oldest opera theater in Michigan and stages both classical operas and musical theater productions. The Grand Rapids Ballet presents The Nutcracker in December plus several other productions each year. Founded in 1883 and designated as a Landmark of American Music, the St. Cecilia Music Society presents public programs and educational opportunities for youth and adults at Royce Auditorium. Other organizations perform at DeVos Hall and the Van Andel Arena.

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, the second largest community theater in the country and Michigan's oldest community theater, presents six main stage productions and two children's plays annually. Its School of Theater Arts offers a complete range of theatrical training courses as well as one-day workshops and summer programs. Circle Theatre, one of the country's largest summer community theaters, is housed at Aquinas College and features children's theater and a cabaret series in addition to its standard summer offerings. Spectrum Theatre, located downtown at Grand Rapids Community College, features innovative and local plays and is the performance home for Actors' Theatre, GRCC Players, the Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids, and Heritage Theatre Group.

The Grand Rapids Art Museum, opened in 1913 and renovated in 1981, houses a permanent collection of paintings, sculpture, and graphic and decorative arts in ten galleries and hosts traveling art exhibits. The furniture-design wing features period furniture from the Renaissance to the present. The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts provides exhibition and performance space for concerts, performance art, lectures, and readings. The 125-acre Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park hosts the largest tropical conservatory in Michigan, in addition to indoor and outdoor plant and butterfly gardens, nature trails, a boardwalk, three indoor art galleries, and the three-story-tall Leonardo da Vinci's Horse, plus 100 other world-class sculptures from classical and contemporary artists.

Arts and Culture Information: Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids, 532 Ottawa NW, PO Box 2265, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 telephone: (616)459-2787 fax: (616)459-7160

Festivals and Holidays

The major festival in Grand Rapids is a three-day arts celebration in June that initiates the summer season. Ethnic festivals take place nearly every summer weekend: Irish, Italian, Polish, German, Native American, Mexican, Latino, and African American celebrations of cultural heritage feature song, food, art, and costumes. The Covered Bridge Bike Tour lets cyclists explore Kent County by bicycle in mid-July. The summer season concludes with the Celebration on the Grand during the second weekend in September. Pulaski Days celebrate Polish heritage in October. One of the state's original nighttime parades starts off the Christmas festivities in early December in nearby downtown Coopersville.

Sports for the Spectator

The Grand Rapids Hoops team competes in the semi-professional Continental Basketball League. The Grand Rapids Griffins belong to the International Hockey League, and the Grand Rapids Rampage to the Arena Football League. All three teams play at Van Andel Arena. The West Michigan Whitecaps, a Class A minor affiliate of the Detroit Tigers baseball team, play at Fifth Third Park. Berlin Race-way features stock car racing, and Gratton Raceway presents auto, motorcycle, and go-cart races.

Sports for the Participant

Sports enthusiasts are provided numerous opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in Grand Rapids and the vicinity. Cross-county ski trails wind through scenic apple orchards and across golf courses. The Winter Sports Complex in nearby Muskegon provides the longest lighted ski trail in the Midwest; the center also maintains a 600-meter chute for luge, one of only four in the nation. Three local resorts feature downhill skiing. Year-round fishing is another popular sport, especially trout and perch fishing.

Charter boats on Lake Michigan are available for salmon and lake trout fishing. Swimmers and sunbathers populate the miles of sandy beaches of Lake Michigan and the many inland lakes during the summer. Rowers are often seen on the Grand River, as are salmon fishers in October and November. The Fifth Third River Bank Run, a 25K event attracts runners from around the country. The Gus Macker three-on-three basketball tournament began in Kent County and happens each summer in downtown Grand Rapids.

Recreational facilities within a 60-mile drive include 11 public and several private golf courses, 21 inland lakes, and dozens of tennis courts and baseball fields. Also under development is Millennium Park, a 10-year project launched in 2004, which will return approximately 1,500 acres of industrial land along the Grand River to publicly-owned green space. Once completed, the park will be nearly two and a half times larger than New York's Central Park, making it one of the largest urban parks in the country. Millennium Park currently features a beach house, playground, picnic areas, and fishing ponds. The Grand Rapids recreation department sponsors hundreds of softball teams in league competition, as well as programs in swimming, soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, scuba diving, and social dancing.

Shopping and Dining

While Grand Rapids doesn't have a true downtown shopping district, it does offer several smaller neighborhood shopping areas in addition to several malls and a strip on 28th Street off of I-96, with many restaurants, larger shops, and strip malls. Woodland Mall offers three major department stores and 120 smaller shops. Breton Village Shopping Center features 40 stores, many locally-owned. RiverTown Crossings contains 120 stores, including six anchor stores, as well as a movie theater. Small shopping districts located throughout the city and surrounding towns include the quaint Squire Street Square in Rockford and the Gaslight Village district in East Grand Rapids, a residential district where fine shops are located in period homes.

The city's best restaurants are clustered downtown. The 1913 Room in the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel is Michigan's only five-diamond restaurant. The award-winning Sierra Room serves Southwestern cuisine in an old warehouse. The B.O.B. features five restaurants, a micro-brewery, night club, comedy club, 2,500 bottle cellar, and billiards.

Visitor Information: Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 171 Monroe Ave NW, Suite 700, 49503; telephone (616)459-8287; toll-free (800)678-9859; fax (616)459-7291. Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Commerce Building, 111 Peal St. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503; telephone (616)771-0300; fax (616) 771-0318

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Grand Rapids: Economy

Grand Rapids: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

The furniture industry has been a mainstay of the Grand Rapids economy since the late 1800s. Today the metropolitan area is home to five of the world's leading office furniture companies: Steelcase, Herman Miller, Haworth, Knoll, and American Seating. Several firms also produce residential furniture. The Grand Rapids metropolitan manufacturing base is among the largest county employers. Steelcase and Amway, manufacturer of home care products, along with Meijer, a supermarket chain, are the largest private companies in the county. In October 2000 Amway became a subsidiary of a newly created company, Alticor.

Grand Rapids has always thrived because of its entrepreneurial, family owned businesses. Among the national firms that began as family operations are Meijer; Bissell, carpet sweeper makers; Wolverine World Wide, makers of Hush Puppies; and Howard Miller, the world's largest manufacturer of grandfather clocks.

Automotive parts, industrial machinery, printing, graphic arts, plastics and chemicals, grocery wholesalers, and food processors comprise a substantial portion of the economic base. International businesses also play an important role, with more than 50 foreign-owned firms in the county and many metropolitan area firms involved in international trade. Tourism is an emerging industry as West Michigan increasingly becomes a popular vacation and convention destination.

Items and goods produced: office furniture and hardware, home furniture, automobile parts, plastics, industrial machinery, tool and dies, home-care products, home appliances, commercial printing, electronic equipment, scientific instruments, food, leather

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

In 2004, the Michigan Economic Development Commission approved a total of more than $10.3 million in Single Business Tax credits for the expansion and consolidation of Steelcase and the redevelopment of two contaminated brownfield sites in the city's downtown. Gaines Township will support the Steelcase expansion with a tax abatement valued at approximately $96,000 over four years.

Local programs

The city of Grand Rapids and its downtown development authority have committed approximately $6.3 million in local incentives toward the brownfield projects through tax abatements and tax increment financing incentives. The Right Place Program (RPP), founded in 1985, is a regional non-profit organization headed by business and government leaders to encourage economic growth through expansion and retention of area businesses and attraction of national and international companies.

State programs

More than 800 properties within 10 areas of the city are designated Renaissance Zones, where Michigan Single Business Tax, the state education tax, Michigan personal and real property taxes, and city income taxes are waived. Tax credits and exemptions are also available in the city's SmartZone, an area adjacent to downtown where the city is seeking to locate high tech and life sciences companies.

Job training programs

Through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, employees have the opportunity to improve their skills through three Michigan Technical Education Centers (M-TEC) operated through Grand Rapids Community College.

Development Projects

Rosa Parks Circle, a small, downtown park, opened in 2002. It was designed by architect Maya Lin, who also designed the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. Millennium Park is a $25 million, 10-year restoration of 1,500 acres of industrial land. A 200-acre section of the park, including Millennium Park Beach, opened in 2003. The $210 million De Vos Place project incorporates De Vos Hall and the old Grand Center convention space in a new one-million-square-foot facility, which was completed in 2005.

Economic Development Information: The Right Place Program, The Waters Building, 111 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503; telephone (616)771-0325; fax (616)771-0329

Commercial Shipping

Because of its strategic location, Grand Rapids is no more than two delivery days away from all Midwest, East Coast, mid-south, and eastern Canadian markets. Ground transportation is available through more than 40 motor carriers, several of which operate terminals in Grand Rapids, and three rail freight systems provide a range of services such as piggyback shipments, bulk handling, and refrigeration. The South Beltline Corridor, currently under construction, connects I-96 on the East with I-196 on the West, with U.S. 131 in the center. Portions of this highway opened in 2001 and 2004, with the remainder scheduled to open in 2005. Seven air cargo carriers and a deep-water port on Lake Michigan, 35 miles away in Muskegon, link Grand Rapids with world markets.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Employers in the Grand Rapids area have access to a young and growing population with a Midwestern work ethic. Employer relations are said to be excellent and work stoppages rare.

The city and region enjoy a high rate of employment overall. With a designated foreign trade zone, Grand Rapids importers and exporters expect to continue to expand markets internationally.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Grand Rapids metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 384,100

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 19,300

manufacturing: 74,100

trade, transportation and utilities: 73,200

information: 5,700

financial activities: 20,900

professional and business services: 52,900

educational and health services: 51,400

leisure and hospitality: 31,700

other services: 17,100

government: 37,800

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $17.56

Unemployment rate: 6.6% (March 2005)

Largest employers Number of employees
Spectrum Health 14,000
Meijer 9,785
Steelcase 5,400
Johnson Controls 5,000
Herman Miller, Inc. 4,400
Alticor, Inc. 4,000
Farmers Insurance Group 3,500
Grand Rapids Public Schools 3,490

Cost of Living

Grand Rapids is noted for its quality of life and affordable health care costs.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the Grand Rapids area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $229,900

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 97.7 (U.S. Average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: 4.3%

State sales tax rate: 6.0%

Local income tax rate: 1.3% for residents; 0.65% for non-residents

Local sales tax rate: None

Property tax rate average: varies from 22.1515 to 29.0215 mills per $1,000 of assessed home value (2004)

Economic Information: The Right Place Program, The Waters Building, 111 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503; telephone (616)771-0325; fax (616)771-0329

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Grand Rapids: Education and Research

Grand Rapids: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Grand Rapids Public School District is the largest in the area. The distict's goal is that by 2007 all students will be at or above grade level in reading, writing, and math, and that 80 percent of incoming ninth graders will graduate.

The following is a summary of data regarding the City of Grand Rapids public schools as of the 20032004 school year.

Total enrollment: 24,219

Number of facilities elementary schools: 44

middle schools: 6

high schools: 5

other: 31

Student/teacher ratio: 14.3:1

Teacher salaries average: $53,517 (2002)

Funding per pupil: $11,274

At least 122 parochial, private, church-affiliated, alternative, and specialty schools offer educational curricula from pre-school through grade 12 in the Grand Rapids area.

Public Schools Information: Grand Rapids Public Schools, 1331 Franklin SE, PO Box 117, Grand Rapids, MI 49501; telephone (616)771-2182. Kent County Intermediate School District, 2930 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525; telephone (616)364-1333

Colleges and Universities

A variety of institutions of higher learning offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in the Kent County; among them are Aquinas College, Calvin College, Central Michigan University, Cornerstone University, Davenport College, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Kendall College of Art and Design (of Ferris State University), Michigan State University, Spring Arbor College, University of Phoenix, and Western Michigan University. Two-year programs are available at Grand Rapids Community College and ITT Technical Institute. Colleges and seminaries providing religious training are Calvin Theological Seminary, Grace Bible College, Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, and Reformed Bible College.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Grand Rapids Public Library is the second largest public library system in Michigan; it operates seven branches in addition to its main facility, which is a depository for federal and state documents. Library holdings consist of 660,000 books, tapes, films, maps, and compact discs; periodicals; and special collections covering several fields, such as furniture, foundations, and Michigan history.

Kent District Library maintains 19 branches and houses about 774,000 books plus magazines, videos, and compact disks. Lakeland Library Cooperative serves 1 million people in the area. Several libraries have in-depth collections in fields such as law, personal finance, business, art and architecture, antiques and collectibles, and materials for the blind and handicapped.

Research is conducted at Grand Valley State University in water resources, aquatic conservation, land use change, air quality, and waste management. At Steelcase Inc.'s $111 million Pyramid research center, behavioral scientists, designers, and engineers study emerging trends such as ergo-nomics and translate them into office products. The Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) opened its $60 million, 162,000-square-foot building in May 2000. Its Board of Scientific Advisors includes four Nobel Laureates; cancer research is the primary focus.

Public Library Information: Grand Rapids Public Library, 111 Library St. NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503-3268; telephone (616)588-5400; fax (616) 588-5420

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Grand Rapids: Population Profile

Grand Rapids: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents

1980: 602,000

1990: 937,891

2000: 1,088,514

Percent change, 19902000: 16.1%

U.S. rank in 1980: 56th

U.S. rank in 1990: Not reported

U.S. rank in 2000: 48th

City Residents

1980: 181,843

1990: 189,126

2000: 197,800

2003 estimate: 195,601

Percent change, 19902000: 4.3%

U.S. rank in 1980: 75th

U.S. rank in 1990: 83rd

U.S. rank in 2000: 107th (State rank: 2nd)

Density: 4,431.2 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 133,116

Black or African American: 40,373

American Indian and Alaska Native: 1,454

Asian: 3,195

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 238

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 25,818

Other: 13,115

Percent of residents born in state: 69.6% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 16,335

Population 5 to 9 years old: 15,198

Population 10 to 14 years old: 13,903

Population 15 to 19 years old: 15,613

Population 20 to 24 years old: 18,413

Population 25 to 34 years old: 33,965

Population 35 to 44 years old: 28,350

Population 45 to 54 years old: 21,269

Population 55 to 59 years old: 6,681

Population 60 to 64 years old: 5,115

Population 65 to 74 years old: 10,204

Population 75 to 84 years old: 8,930

Population 85 years and older: 3,824

Median age: 30.4 years

Births (2003)

Total number: 3,785

Deaths (2003)

Total number: 1,748 (of which, 46 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $17,661

Median household income: $37,224

Total households: 73,217

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 3,389

$10,000 to $14,999: 2,002

$15,000 to $24,999: 5,633

$25,000 to $34,999: 5,740

$35,000 to $49,999: 8,640

$50,000 to $74,999: 10,439

$75,000 to $99,999: 5,072

$100,000 to $149,999: 2,736

$150,000 to $199,999: 710

$200,000 or more: 573

Percent of families below poverty level: 11.9% (47.3% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 11,292

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Grand Rapids: Communications

Grand Rapids: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

The Grand Rapids Press is the city's daily newspaper, appearing in the evening. Other newspapers circulating in the community include The Grand Rapids Times, targeted to African American community interests, and Grand Rapids Business Journal. Grand Rapids Magazine is a monthly publication that features articles of regional interest. Several special-interest magazines are also published in Grand Rapids; a number of them focus on religious topics.

Television and Radio

Six television stations broadcast in Grand Rapidsaffiliates of PBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, UPN, and PAX. Twenty-three AM and FM radio stations are based in the city; several of them broadcast Christian inspirational programming, others broadcast sports, music, news, and information.

Media Information: The Grand Rapids Press, Booth Newspapers, Inc., 155 Michigan Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503; telephone (616)459-1567. Grand Rapids Magazine, Gemini Publications, 549 Ottawa Ave. NW, Ste. 201, Grand Rapids, MI 49503; telephone (616)459-4545

Grand Rapids Online

De Vos Place. Available www.devosplace.org

Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. Available www.grandrapids.org

Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Available www.grcvb.org

Grand Rapids Press. Available gr.mlive.com/grpress

Grand Rapids Public Library. Available at www.grpl.org

Selected Bibliography

Bratt, James D., et al. Gathered at the River: Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Its People of Faith (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1993)

Ford, Gerald R., et al. Greater Grand Rapids: City that Works (Towery Publishing, 1998)

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Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids: Introduction
Grand Rapids: Geography and Climate
Grand Rapids: History
Grand Rapids: Population Profile
Grand Rapids: Municipal Government
Grand Rapids: Economy
Grand Rapids: Education and Research
Grand Rapids: Health Care
Grand Rapids: Recreation
Grand Rapids: Convention Facilities
Grand Rapids: Transportation
Grand Rapids: Communications

The City in Brief

Founded: 1831 (incorporated, 1850)

Head Official: City Manager Kurt Kimball (since 1987)

City Population

1980: 181,843

1990: 189,126

2000: 197,800

2003 estimate: 195,601

Percent change, 19902000: 4.3%

U.S. rank in 1980: 75th

U.S. rank in 1990: 83rd

U.S. rank in 2000: 107th (State rank: 2nd)

Metropolitan Area Population

1980: 602,000

1990: 937,891

2000: 1,088,514

Percent change, 19902000: 16.1%

U.S. rank in 1980: 56th

U.S. rank in 1990: Not reported

U.S. rank in 2000: 48th

Area: 45 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Ranges from 785 to 1,075 feet above sea level

Average Annual Temperature: 47.4° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 37.13 inches of rain, 71.9 inches of snow

Major Economic Sectors: Manufacturing, services, retail trade

Unemployment Rate: 6.6% (March 2005)

Per Capita Income: $17,661 (1999)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 11,292

Major Colleges and Universities: Grand Valley State University

Daily Newspaper: The Grand Rapids Press

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Grand Rapids: Health Care

Grand Rapids: Health Care

Spectrum Health is ranked as one of the top 100 hospitals in the country, especially in orthopedics and cardiac bypass surgery. The hospital also serves as the western Michigan regional center for cancer, diabetes, poisons, sleep disorders, and burn treatment. It has a nationally recognized children's hospital. The $137 million Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center opened on the hospital's Butterworth Campus in 2004. In March 2005, the hospital announced it would be upgrading its Blodgett Campus at a cost of $7.5 million.

St. Mary's Health Care is an integrated health care system that has specialists in kidney transplantation, cardiac care, bloodless medicine, psychiatric medicine, neonatology, gastroenterology and endocrinology. St. Mary's opened a $42 million, 180,000-square-foot, five-story Lacks Cancer Center in January 2005. The Wege Institute offers traditional services, such as family practice, internal medicine and general surgery, side by side with complementary therapies, including massage, acupuncture, biofeedback, manipulation, and Feldenkrais.

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Grand Rapids: Transportation

Grand Rapids: Transportation

Approaching the City

Michigan's second-largest airport, Gerald R. Ford International Airport is located 30 minutes from downtown Grand Rapids. Eight airlines provide direct service to and from 15 major cities.

A network of interstate, federal, and state highways provides access into Grand Rapids from surrounding communities as well as points throughout the United States and Canada. Interstate highways serving the metropolitan area are I-96, I-196, and I-296. U.S. highways extending through the city are 16 and 131; state routes include 11, 44, 50, 21, and 37. Daily rail passenger transportation from Chicago is provided by Amtrak.

Traveling in the City

Grand Rapids Area Transportation Authority (GRATA) schedules public bus service in the metropolitan area. Go Bus provides door-to-door transportation for the elderly and disabled; the Gus Bus, a commuter shuttle, operates from near-downtown parking lots to the downtown district.

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Grand Rapids: Convention Facilities

Grand Rapids: Convention Facilities

Grand Rapids was one of the first cities in the country to build a convention center. The 1933 Art Deco-style Civic Auditorium, renamed Welsh Auditorium, was demolished in 2003 to make way for expansion around De Vos Hall, a performing arts venue, which reopened as part of De Vos Place in 2003. De Vos Place features one million square feet of new and renovated space, including a 160,000-square-foot exhibit hall and 21 meeting rooms. Additional convention facilities include the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown, and Van Andel Arena. The convention centers are all located within a five block area and are connected by a skyway.

Kent County offers 6,600 hotel rooms, with 1,071 of those in Grand Rapids; many hotels also provide meeting and convention accommodations.

Convention Information: De Vos Place, 303 Monroe St., Grand Rapids, MI 49503 telephone: (616)742-6500; fax: (616)742-6590

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Grand Rapids: Geography and Climate

Grand Rapids: Geography and Climate

Bisected by the Grand River, Michigan's longest river, Grand Rapids is located in the Grand river valley approximately 30 miles east of Lake Michigan. The region's climate is influenced by the lake, which tempers cold waves from the west and northwest during the winter and produces a regulating effect on both frost and vegetation during the growing season. Consequently, seasonal extremes are infrequent, although hot, humid weather can be expected for about three weeks during the summer and drought occasionally occurs for a short duration; snow cover sometimes remains throughout the winter.

Area: 45 square miles (2000)

Elevation: Ranges from 785 feet to 1,075 feet above sea level

Average Temperatures: January, 21.8° F; July, 71.6° F; annual average, 47.4° F

Average Annual Precipitation: 37.13 inches of rain, 71.9 inches of snow

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Grand Rapids: Introduction

Grand Rapids: Introduction

The seat of Kent County, Michigan, Grand Rapids is the center of a metropolitan statistical area that includes Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, and Allegan counties. The Grand River, on which the city is located, shaped the future of Grand Rapids first as a leader in the logging industry, then as one of the world's primary furniture manufacturing centers, and now as the office furniture capital. The city's identity also was determined by thousands of Dutch immigrants who settled in Grand Rapids to work in the furniture factories. Today, the Grand Rapids metropolitan area has more than one million inhabitants, innovative cultural institutions, a revitalized downtown core, a diverse economy, and high marks for quality of life factors.

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Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids, city (1990 pop. 189,126), seat of Kent co., SW central Mich., on the Grand River; inc. 1850. The second largest city in the state, it is a distribution, wholesale, and industrial center for an area that yields fruit, dairy products, farm produce, gypsum, and gravel. Furniture manufacturing (begun in 1859) remains important. Among the city's other manufactures are appliances, electronic equipment, automotive parts, aircraft and space navigation systems, and paper products. It has the Gerald R. Ford Museum, art and furniture museums, a botanical garden, a symphony orchestra, and an opera company. Also in Grand Rapids are Aquinas College, Calvin College, and several seminaries.

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Grand Rapids: Municipal Government

Grand Rapids: Municipal Government

Grand Rapids operates under a "weak mayor," commission-manager form of government, in which the seven council membersone of whom serves as mayorare elected to four-year terms. The city manager, who runs the government, is appointed.

The Grand Valley Metro Council, formed in 1990, is a voluntary coalition of 31 units of government assigned to coordinate the region's services and investments which have environmental, economic and social impact.

Head Official: City Manager Kurt Kimball (since 1987)

Total Number of City Employees: 1,800 (2005)

City Information: City Hall, 300 Monroe NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503; telephone (616)456-4648

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