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Does anyone here at UP have a history on the establishment of Grand Rapids' city limits? The zigs and zags just seem like they'd all have a story attached.


Edited by ChevalierNoir

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Doubt if you'll find the info here but there's lots of history why the boundaries are where they are. The City of Walker was Walker Township, City of Kentwood was Paris Township and the City of Wyoming was Wyoming Township. All incorporated to prevent the City of GR from annexing the developed areas and leaving the townships with little commercial or industrial properties. Plainfield and Grand Rapids Townships are charter townships to make it more difficult to annex w/o incorporating. (Charter township law wasn't around in the mid 60's for the 3 cities.)  Walker had a GM plant and Wyoming had 2 GM plants and Kentwood had Woodland Mall etc.(note the location of Centerpoint in GR in relation to Woodland Mall and Kentwood. Aggressive additions to the City of GR


I found this map a few minutes ago. You can see what prompted the 3 cities to incorporate.





Edited by Raildude's dad
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The wiggly border of Grand Rapids is nothing compared to some cities, where it looks like a paint splatter (including the thousands of disconnected dots)

Just look at Houston, or Austin https://www.google.com/maps/place/Houston,+TX/@29.6802685,-95.4492478,11z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x8640b8b4488d8501:0xca0d02def365053b!8m2!3d29.7602049!4d-95.3695679 

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It's probably easier to ask how each of the suburbs formed their boundaries.  I can tell you a bit about Kentwood.  Like Raildudes mentioned, it was the malls that drove them to incorporate.  GR (like all cities) was aggressive about annexing new development outside its boundaries, especially if it was industrial or commercial.  Paris Township originally went from Hall to 60th, and Division to Patterson, but by 1962 you see the outline of what is left, which formed the boundaries of Kentwood today.    Paris township had tried to incorporate a couple times through the '50s and early '60s.

Screen Shot 2016-10-04 at 6.53.08 AM.png

Godwin Heights School District voted to join with the new city of Wyoming, which is why a portion of that city creeps over Division.  The area around Division/44th used to be a tract called Home Acres.  They had proposed forming the Village of Emerson in 1931, but that measure failed.

Eastbrook Mall (aka Centerpointe) broke ground in 1965, which was in land recently annexed by GR.  GR had not taken the land to the west across M-37 as it was still a farm.

Later in 1965, that farm was sold to make plans for Woodland Mall.  Paris Township leaders initiated another push to incorporate, since they knew GR would try to annex it.

GR refused to extend water and sewer services to the Woodland property, which was a common hardball tactic when cities wanted land.  The township was able to work around this by securing a water and sewer agreement with the city of Wyoming.

Eastbrook Mall opened in 1967 while Woodland was being built.  Paris voted to incorporate that same year.  They took the name "Kentwood" from the school district, which was already established.  Woodland opened in 1968.

The small notch of land that rises above 44th Street at Kalamazoo was the site of Kentwood's new City Hall in 1975.  That parcel was actually taken back from GR.

Edited by RegalTDP
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