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ledgerwm

Skywalk in Downtown

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I did this post on the Grand Rapids Skywalk awhile back, and I just looked back at it and I realized, that I am missing a lot of information.  Specifically I am looking at some background and history on the Skywalk system in Grand Rapids.  How did it get started? Where was it started?  Why was it started?  That sort of thing.  I think it would be interesting to take a deeper look at this.  Also is the Skywalk a city initiative? Meaning do they fund and build it or is this built and paid for by the building owners themselves?  Or is it a combination of both?

 

I also created this cool Bing Map which shows the Skywalk and identifies all the buildings that are attached to the skywalk.  I am telling you that Bird's Eye view on Bing is awesome.

 

It also made me take a closer look at identifying the separate but unconnected skywalks on the Medical Mile and within the GRCC campus.  I never really thought of those examples either, but I guess I will throw those in as well. So if you have any information on those skywalk systems please let me know.

 

Thanks for your help.

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I did this post on the Grand Rapids Skywalk awhile back, and I just looked back at it and I realized, that I am missing a lot of information.  Specifically I am looking at some background and history on the Skywalk system in Grand Rapids.  How did it get started? Where was it started?  Why was it started?  That sort of thing.  I think it would be interesting to take a deeper look at this.  Also is the Skywalk a city initiative? Meaning do they fund and build it or is this built and paid for by the building owners themselves?  Or is it a combination of both?

 

I also created this cool Bing Map which shows the Skywalk and identifies all the buildings that are attached to the skywalk.  I am telling you that Bird's Eye view on Bing is awesome.

 

It also made me take a closer look at identifying the separate but unconnected skywalks on the Medical Mile and within the GRCC campus.  I never really thought of those examples either, but I guess I will throw those in as well. So if you have any information on those skywalk systems please let me know.

 

Thanks for your help.

 

 

There was a big discussion on the skywalks here a few years ago. It's pretty much a hated feature of the city, on this discussion board.

 

I think it's jointly owned by the hotels, convention center, the various office buildings it passes through, and the DDA?

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Alright thanks - I did try the search feature on skywalks but seemed to only find occasional mentions tucked away in topics, but not the focus of the thread.  Let me do some more searching to see if I can dig up that thread you mentioned.

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IIRC, it started in the '80s, as bridges from the Amway Grand to its parking garage and to the old Grand Center.  Back then, it wasn't thought of as a "skywalk" in the landmark sense, so much as extensions of the hotel.  After the arena was built 1996, it was extended south to connect the arena with the Amway Grand (and whatever else was in between).  Just shooting from the hip here.

 

According to Wikipedia, the official name of the skywalk is "Grand River Promenade."

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IIRC, it started in the '80s, as bridges from the Amway Grand to its parking garage and to the old Grand Center.  Back then, it wasn't thought of as a "skywalk" in the landmark sense, so much as extensions of the hotel.  After the arena was built 1996, it was extended south to connect the arena with the Amway Grand (and whatever else was in between).  Just shooting from the hip here.

 

According to Wikipedia, the official name of the skywalk is "Grand River Promenade."

 

Which is neither on the Grand River or a promenade. :)

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I know it's hated by many because it supposedly takes people away from the sidewalk store fronts.  However, in the dead of Winter I can guaran-gol-darned-tee that I'm not doing much window shopping anyway and much enjoy the convenience the skywalk provides so that I can walk without having to wear my boots or risk salt and slush in my loafers.  On the other hand, in the Summer I'm much happier to walk the sidewalks than bake in the habitrails.  So, I think it has it's uses and therefore I bear the skywalk no malice.



 

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I don't notice very many people using the skywalk in summer anyway, although I don't really use it myself in that weather.  I question just how much it really takes away from street traffic outside of inclement weather.  Might be worth a study, although instead of hiring some firm to do it for a quarter of a million, I bet it could be done by getting one of the colleges or even high schools to do it as some student-run data-analysis project for much, much less.  If it does have a strong connection in use to unpleasant weather, personally I'd like to see it expanded to connect Central Station, Ionia St. City Market, GRCC, and Spectrum.

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I know it's hated by many because it supposedly takes people away from the sidewalk store fronts.  However, in the dead of Winter I can guaran-gol-darned-tee that I'm not doing much window shopping anyway and much enjoy the convenience the skywalk provides so that I can walk without having to wear my boots or risk salt and slush in my loafers.  On the other hand, in the Summer I'm much happier to walk the sidewalks than bake in the habitrails.  So, I think it has it's uses and therefore I bear the skywalk no malice.

 

 

I do know that the hotels/convention center use it as a selling point when trying to draw conventions here in winter months. Many of those groups might not have come if there were no skywalks.

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I don't notice very many people using the skywalk in summer anyway, although I don't really use it myself in that weather.  I question just how much it really takes away from street traffic outside of inclement weather.  Might be worth a study, although instead of hiring some firm to do it for a quarter of a million, I bet it could be done by getting one of the colleges or even high schools to do it as some student-run data-analysis project for much, much less.  If it does have a strong connection in use to unpleasant weather, personally I'd like to see it expanded to connect Central Station, Ionia St. City Market, GRCC, and Spectrum.

 

Your insights on skywalk extension are SPOT ON.  As a matter of fact, I have always felt that our skywalk system should be enhanced with escalator/elevator atriums at its higher profile locations that would offer the best opportunities for continuously and conveniently switching between skywalk and street level (i.e. - Van Andel Arena/Arena Station Building, whatever future development surrounds the current Market/Fulton skywalk access partial atrium and the PNC Center/Comerica Building/JWMarriott junction) along with "Metrorail Station"-style "S" insignia signs <denoting "skywalk/street access HERE"> indoors and outside at these locations.  These sites, with properly identified non-duplicative and super-regional retail/services (i.e. - those that are ONLY OFFERED IN CHICAGO & DETROIT>, would create dynamic pedestrian focal points that would get people more readily interchanging between the street and skywalk levels and increasing the use of BOTH.

 

Additionally, were VanAndel Arena ever to place a "pass-through" skywalk tube that was suspended adjacent to the concourse level and parallel with the curved glass front, it could then exit across Fulton into what could potentially be one of the most dynamic locations for new vertical office, retail, housing and hotel uses in the city - namely 1] the airspace above the Fulton/Ottawa/Louis Ramp and its adjacent tiny Fulton-fronting surface lot next to the One Ionia Avenue NW Building, 2] the triangular Fulton/Louis/Ionia parking island surface lot and 3] the footprint and airspace above the old Michigan National Bank parking ramp at Louis and Ionia next to GRPD HQ.  Those three locations - skywalk-connecting together each site's atrium lobby (vertical shopping components of each tower on each site) - would become an extremely powerful bridge between the Arena District and Monroe Center.  VERY POWERFUL indeed.

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