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Skyline Graphic, Downtown Grand Rapids, Mi (c)2003-2005The Grand Rapids Photo Collection
It's all Grand!

Buildings - View Grand Rapids' skyscrapers, mid-rises, and low-rises individually.

Skyline - Photos of the city's growing skyline. This section also includes wide shot panoramas.

Streetscape - Views of Grand Rapids from street level. Includes images of the hustle and bustle of Downtown.

Facts - This section includes facts and famous firsts from Grand Rapids.

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Interesting Facts and Tidbits


Grand Rapids At a Glance
Grand Rapids is located just off of Michigan's West Coast. The combined metro area is home to over 1,250,000 people (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000) and is continuing to thrive on the coast of Lake Michigan. Grand Rapids is the county seat of Kent County, with a population of over 570,000 inhabitants. If you are not familiar with the region you will be very familiar with some of its most successful people and sights.

By the way did you know the Bissell Corp invented the vacuum here? Or, that Grand Rapids is home to one of the country’s largest ballet companies? And if you are a Midwest visitor you maybe well accustomed to the Meijer brand name, a proud company first started in Metro Grand Rapids ad continues to make its home here.

By air, the metro is serviced by the major service port of Gerald R. Ford International formally known as Kent County International, the second busiest airport in the state of Michigan.

Grand Rapids has the largest urban historical district in the country called the Heritage Hill District, a beautiful mix of some of the oldest homes in the urban center consisting of more then 60 diffrent architectural styles in one place. President Gerald Ford is a son of Grand Rapids.

Famous Natives

Anderson, Gillian - Actress, ('Daina Scully') of the "The X-Files"

Bean, Gwenneth - Singer with Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Bentley, Ray - Former NFL linebacker for Buffalo Bills, commentator for NFL on Fox

Benson, Jr., Johnny - Race car driver

Chaffee, Roger - Astronaut, killed 1967 in Apollo 1 accident. Grand Rapids Planetarium named in his honor.

Debarge - Former soul/pop singing group.

DeJonge, Meindert - Writer; first American to win Hans Christian Andersen Award

Devos, Richard - Made Forbes 400 Richest list, October, 1998. Ada, Michigan (Amway).

DeVries, Peter - Author/humorist; attended Calvin College

Duncan, Patrick - Author/director/screenwriter; "Opus" based on Duncan's childhood experience in West Michigan.

Dr. Eldering, Dr. Kendrick and Grace Pearl - Founders of the whooping cough vaccine.

Essink, Ron - Tackle for the Seattle Seahawks and championship wrestler

Ford, Gerald R - President; 38th President of the United States

Ford, Betty - First Lady of the United States

Gingrich, Arnold - Author; Founder of Esquire magazine (1933, Chicago); author of "Cast down the Laurel," Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald showcased their talent in Esquire magaizine.

Green, Al - Soul and gospel singer; 1966 graduate of South High School

Hertz, Adaam - of "American Pie"

Hockenberry, John - Voice on National Public Radio(NPR) for over 15 years; correspondent for "Day One" ABC news magazine

Hogeboom, Gary - Quarterback for Indianapolis Colts

Huizenga, Wayne - Owner of Blockbuster video and Florida Panthers Hockey team; graduate of Calvin College.

Ketchel, Stanley - AKA "The Michigan Assassin." - World Middleweight Boxing Champion born in 1886 on the West Side. Killed by gunshot. Funeral largest ever seen in Grand Rapids with several thousand showing up at St. Adelbert's.

Kiedis, Anthony - Singer for Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Lousma, Jack R. - astronaut.

Luedtke, Kurt - Screenwriter, "Out of Africa" and "Absence of Malice."

Mayweather, Jr., Floyd - Boxer; 1996 Olympics bronze medal

Max, Kevin - dcTalk ; memeber of a christain rock group

Meijers Family - Made Forbes Family Fortunes list, October, 1998. Founded by Dutch immigrant, Hendrik Meijer and now run by Fred Meijer.

Meyer, Greg - Runner; 1983 Boston Marathon winner

Wally Pipp - Professional baseball player for the Tigers, Yankees and Reds.

Leo and Mark Peters - The late Leo Peters was the inventor of the Butterball turkey

Rourke, Constance - Author and historian

Rozema, Dave - Former pitcher for Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers

Schrader, Paul - Motion picture producer/director/writer; including "Hard Core" which was partially set and filmed in Grand Rapids.

Secchia, Peter F. - Ambassador to Italy, businessman.

Stanley, Mickey - Former center fielder for Detroit Tigers.

Steigenga, Matt - Plays forward for Chicago Bulls.

Van Andel, Jay - Made Forbes 400 Richest list, October, 1998. Ada, Michigan (Amway)

Van Allsburg, Chris - Writer and illustrator of children's books; winner of Caldecott Medal

Dirk J. Vlug - Congressional Medal of Honor winner for gallantry in World War II. Single-handedly destroyed five tanks and their crews in the Philipines with a rocket launcher and a pistol.

Wege, Peter M. - Made Forbes 400 Richest list, October, 1998. Grand Rapids, Michigan (Steelcase)

Whitten, Buddy - Professional golfer.

Wilkins, Roger - Pulitzer Prize winner and former assistant U.S. attorney general; graduate of Creston High School

Wilson, Elizabeth - Actress ("The Graduate") and graduate of Central High School

Zimmer, Kim - Actress and star of "Guiding Light", CBS soap opera.

Melville and Anna Bissell - Melville Bissell first developed the Bissell carpet sweeper in 1876 for his wife to use in their Grand Rapids crockery shop.


Famous Firsts

  • Floride in the public drinkin water
  • First baseball game played on a lighted diamond.
  • First city to use hydro-electric power
  • First African-American Operated Railway in the U.S.
  • Frances Rutherford was appointed Grand Rapids city physician, she is the first to have such a title in the US
  • Roberta Griffith compiled the first Braille dictionary
  • Steelcase Inc., is the world's largest manufacturer of metal office furniture.
  • The nation's first carpet sweeper was invented and patented by Melville R. Bissel in 1896
  • The nations first regularly scheduled air passenger service began operation between Grand Rapids and Detroit.
  • First commercially-prepared baby food was invented by Daniel F. Gerber




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