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Grand Rapids is the second-largest city in Michigan, after Detroit, and the seat of Kent County.

Grand Rapids is adjacent to the cities of East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Walker, and Wyoming, as well as the census-designated places of Comstock Park and Northview. Other nearby cities and villages include Grandville, Jenison, Cutlerville, Forest Hills, Byron Center, Hudsonville, and Rockford.

Major routes through the city include I-96, I-196, and I-296. I-96 runs along the northern and northeastern sides of the city, connecting with Muskegon to the west, and Lansing and Detroit to the east. Also known as the Gerald R. Ford Freeway, I-196 runs east-west through the city, connecting to I-96 just east of the city, and with I-94 in Benton Township. I-296 runs concurrently with US-131 between I-96 and I-296.

US-131 runs north-south through the city, connecting to Cadillac to the north and Kalamazoo to the south. Other routes include M-6 (Paul B. Henry Freeway), M-11 (Ironwood/Remembrance Road, Wilson Avenue, 28th Street), M-21 (Fulton Street), M-37 (Alpine Avenue, East Beltline Avenue, Broadmoor Avenue), M-44 (East Beltline), Conn. M-44 (Plainfield Avenue), M-45 (Lake Michigan Drive), and A-45, which is Old US-131 south of 28th Street.

The Grand River, the longest river in Michigan, flows south through the center of Grand Rapids. The mile-long, 1-15-foot-tall rapids for which the city was named, have been submerged for nearly a century after the construction of several dams. The river is one of three major tributaries to Lake Michigan, and its watershed is the second-largest in the state.

With the Grand River flowing through the center of the city, it has been prone to flooding. Major floods occurred in March of 1904 and 2013.

Grand Rapids is divided into four quadrants - NE (northeast), NW (northwest), SE (southeast), and SW (southwest) - with Fulton Street serving as the north-south dividing line, and Division Avenue as the east-west dividing line, between the four quadrants.

Like most large cities, Grand Rapids is not without its problems, many of them significant, but it has one of the most diverse economies that can be found in the United States, with large employers representing a wide variety of industries, including the healthcare, education, government, finance, tourism, sports, and manufacturing sectors.

The region that was to become Grand Rapids was occupied by various indigenous people before its European-American settlement, which began in the early 1800s. While French Jesuit missionaries and fur traders frequented the area, there was no significant French settlement of the area.

Isaac McCoy, a Baptist minister, was the first permanent European-American settler in the area when he established a mission there for the Ottawa, who had a village there in 1823. The following year, another Baptist minister, the Reverend L. Slater, came along with a couple of settlers to build homes and a log schoolhouse. By 1825, McCoy had turned his attention to the European-American settlers, who were arriving from Ohio, New York, and New England.

Recognized as the founder of Grand Rapids, Louis Campau came from Detroit and built a cabin, a trading post, and a blacksmith shop on the east bank of the river. In this, he was assisted by his younger brother, Touissant.

In 1833, a land office was established in White Pigeon, and the US government began selling land, the largest landholder being Louis Campau, who sold a plot of land to Joel Guild, who later became the postmaster for Grand Rapids. He wasn't the first postmaster, however. When a post office was established on December 22, 1832, Leonard Slater was the first postmaster. At the request of Lucius Lyon, who also bought land from Campau, the post office was briefly renamed Kent, and it remained Kent until February 6, 1844, although the village remained Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids was incorporated as a village in 1838 and became a city in 1850.

During the second half of the 1800s, Grand Rapids became a significant lumbering center, as logs floated down the Grand River were milled in the city and shipped to market via the Great Lakes. The city also became a center for furniture production, as well. At the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Grand Rapids was recognized as a leader in the production of fine furniture, earning its nickname "Furniture City." The city has also been known as "River City" and, more recently, "Beer City."

The focus of this guide is on the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Appropriate topics for this category include online resources representing the city itself, as well as individuals, businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, events, and recreational and sporting opportunities, teams, and programs.


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