6th Gen local

Grand Rapids Then and Now

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18 hours ago, wyoming_mi said:

It would be cool to see the 1996 picture with arrows or shapes showing where something changed. (like Founders, etc) Especially for those who have not lived in GR that long and have no idea. 

Here's a couple of neat photos from this thread a dozen years ago.  I've added some arrows and texts to identify current landmarks in one of the photos in the doctored photo at the bottom.

On 3/29/2006 at 10:52 AM, civitas said:

 

 

 

 

Before US-131

 

119838212_c4784e92a0_b.jpg

 

 

 

US-131 under construction

 

119838211_fd6eca5746_b.jpg

The tags represent what is there now.  What is now Founders was the Interstate Motor Freight terminal.  What is now the Intersection Bar was a truck dealer.  I think I've identified the New Mertens correctly but not 100% sure.  The Intersection is a good marker because it now butts up against the curve in 131.

1365945034_CIVITISPHOTOWITHTAGS.thumb.png.f41b0d55abb93de97f9bae60a699da79.png  

Don't know where the black lines came from, sorry.

 

Edited by walker
for clarity
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1 hour ago, Raildude's dad said:

You can google the Sidwell maps of Kent County / City of GR from the 60's and see what was there at that period. (I'm too lazy to look them up and paste links.)

Looks like pretty geeky stuff unless you are a civil engineer:

Sidwell map aerial view of a relevant section

This is apparently what people looked at before Google Satellite view.

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Had a little time this morning while waiting for a plumber, so I tagged the other photo too.  The shed and station are gone by the time this one was taken and I've guessed at the New Mertens again:

Picture3.thumb.png.f0d5d7a46234f918a7896b31fffbd69a.png

 

Edited by walker
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Wow, look at the west side, where the Ford museum and GVSU is now.  Looks all industrial…then look two blocks west further from the river.  Is that just open space?

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1 hour ago, john_denver said:

Wow, look at the west side, where the Ford museum and GVSU is now.  Looks all industrial…then look two blocks west further from the river.  Is that just open space?

Well, it was open space after the highway department got to it!

 

Man, I wish there were more photos or film of these outer parts of the central city available online. It seems like we only ever see the same shots from the same vantage points while these edge areas are just as developed, but we have no real idea what they looked like from the ground.

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49 minutes ago, GR_Urbanist said:

Well, it was open space after the highway department got to it!

 

Man, I wish there were more photos or film of these outer parts of the central city available online. It seems like we only ever see the same shots from the same vantage points while these edge areas are just as developed, but we have no real idea what they looked like from the ground.

Aha, good point on that.

I could look at for hours, too bad you can't zoom in to get better resolution.  I would love to go street by street to see what the building were like.

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What is that building across Division from St. Andrew's, where Guiding Light is now? (in the pre-highway pic)

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10 minutes ago, tSlater said:

What is that building across Division from St. Andrew's, where Guiding Light is now? (in the pre-highway pic)

I think I remember seeing it in that old book "Grand Rapids: Then and Now". It's where Guiding Light Mission is, and it was a fairly fancy home (mansion?).  Likely something more than that.

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On 3/25/2019 at 7:42 PM, walker said:

    

Here's a couple of neat photos from this thread a dozen years ago.  I've added some arrows and texts to identify current landmarks in one of the photos in the doctored photo at the bottom.

The tags represent what is there now.  What is now Founders was the Interstate Motor Freight terminal.  What is now the Intersection Bar was a truck dealer.  I think I've identified the New Mertens correctly but not 100% sure.  The Intersection is a good marker because it now butts up against the curve in 131.

1365945034_CIVITISPHOTOWITHTAGS.thumb.png.f41b0d55abb93de97f9bae60a699da79.png  

Don't know where the black lines came from, sorry.

 

A couple of things I find interesting in this photo:

1) In addition to US-131 not being put in yet, I-196 is also not under construction yet.

2) At the very top of the photo, you can see the GR & Eastern Rail bridge and the Ann Street bridge.  Beyond (north) of that, there is very little.  Alpine certainly hadn't developed into what it is today, and there isn't the growth that is currently on both sides of the river.  Essentially, northern city sprawl ended at Ann Street.

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The building that is where the Hinman development is going was quite large for that area. Does anyone know the story of that building? I know it got converted to a parked ramp (the building itself), then eventually demolished. Surprised a building that size fell out of favor that quickly when most of the taller structures downtown made it through urban renewal. 

Joe

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While unsuccessfully hunting for an answer to tSlater's question, I ran across this site:

SEEKING MICHIGAN (searched on Grand Rapids)

Turned up pages and pages of thumbnail photos of Grand Rapids from all eras, most I've never seen before.  And you can click on them to enlarge and there is a slider to expand a photo even more.   

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tSlater asks "What is that building across Division from St. Andrew's, where Guiding Light is now? (in the pre-highway pic)"

1571656101_DivisionStreetSchool.png.d9856173cda2f0da550b131c428694e4.png

It's the South Division Street School.  It was completed in 1884 at a cost of $34,000 and was the biggest elementary school in the city at the time.  In its later years it was used for storage.  It was torn down in 1948.  In 1962 the current building on the site, which is now the Guiding Light Mission,  was built as the state unemployment office.

Edited by walker
to back fill what was a duplicate post.

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35 minutes ago, joeDowntown said:

The building that is where the Hinman development is going was quite large for that area. Does anyone know the story of that building? I know it got converted to a parked ramp (the building itself), then eventually demolished. Surprised a building that size fell out of favor that quickly when most of the taller structures downtown made it through urban renewal. 

Joe

It was originally the Rindge, Kalmbach, Logie, & Co. shoe factory.  These same questions come up on this forum every ten years or so:

On 12/12/2008 at 9:30 PM, walker said:

 

I remember it as the Morton House parking garage although I'm sure it was built as something else. Here's a story that Chris Knapp did on it awhile ago. Chris says it was a shoe factory:

 

http://blog.mlive.com/knapescorner/2008/05...a_the_mort.html

Someone noted back in 2008 that Chris had said 10 Ionia SW when it is actually 10 Ionia NW.

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8 hours ago, kwl said:

Just a little fun this afternoon.  

Screen Shot 2019-03-26 at 2.17.40 PM.png

Anyone else notice that I-196 is NOT in this picture! :) 

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9 hours ago, walker said:

 

It was originally the Rindge, Kalmbach, Logie, & Co. shoe factory.  These same questions come up on this forum every ten years or so:

Someone noted back in 2008 that Chris had said 10 Ionia SW when it is actually 10 Ionia NW.

I was actually wondering if anyone knew the story behind the story. It’s surprising that a 12 story building met the wrecking ball. Maybe it was always a no frills building (since it was a factory), and expendable. Or it never had office tenants, so it was an easy target. As far as I can tell, it’s the biggest building to get knocked down in that era.

it was so close to the core, it just seems a little unexpected  then again, if they converted it to a parking ramp, I’m sure the elements weren’t too kind on it  

Joe

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It wasn't the core in the late 70s though. Calder Plaza was the core, the area south of Monroe Center was mainly parking for Monroe Center, and everything south of Fulton was derelict. 

At 12 stories, it probably felt like looming blight, especially in an era when much more architecturally interesting buildings were considered obsolete.

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Is there anything to that area in the bottom left of the 131 under construction photo?  It looks like a horseshoe bowl of a football stadium, but the "field" area is a parking lot.   Can't get enough of these "then and now" comparisons 

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1 hour ago, discgrab21 said:

Is there anything to that area in the bottom left of the 131 under construction photo?  It looks like a horseshoe bowl of a football stadium, but the "field" area is a parking lot.   Can't get enough of these "then and now" comparisons 

That's the area where the gas works was (current DTE building and property). 

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23 hours ago, joeDowntown said:

I was actually wondering if anyone knew the story behind the story. It’s surprising that a 12 story building met the wrecking ball. Maybe it was always a no frills building (since it was a factory), and expendable. Or it never had office tenants, so it was an easy target. As far as I can tell, it’s the biggest building to get knocked down in that era.

it was so close to the core, it just seems a little unexpected  then again, if they converted it to a parking ramp, I’m sure the elements weren’t too kind on it  

Joe

I'm still puzzled about another 12-story building that was demolished, only in the 1920s. It was much more ornate and was demolished only about 10 years after it was built, to be replaced by a 1-story building. Can't for the life of me figure out why. (The Burleson Sanitarium, replaced by the Peacock Building)

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51 minutes ago, tSlater said:

I'm still puzzled about another 12-story building that was demolished, only in the 1920s. It was much more ornate and was demolished only about 10 years after it was built, to be replaced by a 1-story building. Can't for the life of me figure out why. (The Burleson Sanitarium, replaced by the Peacock Building)

Hadn’t heard about this building. Photos? Maybe it was haunted. :) :)  

Joe

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1 hour ago, tSlater said:

I'm still puzzled about another 12-story building that was demolished, only in the 1920s. It was much more ornate and was demolished only about 10 years after it was built, to be replaced by a 1-story building. Can't for the life of me figure out why. (The Burleson Sanitarium, replaced by the Peacock Building)

There's a website dedicated to the history of the Burleson Sanitarium / Hospital:

Burleson Sanitarium on Fulton

 I doubt that the hospital was ever as big as the post card rendering at the top since their locations before and after this building were much smaller and because there is no photo showing that large a building, although there are the thumbnails that show the front of the building only.  I also doubt that after they moved to a couple of floors in the Morton House, that they had the big sign on the side of the hotel as shown in the Morton House picture:

Burleson at the Morton House

I do remember their small hospital in East Grand Rapids, this is another place I occasionally delivered groceries to when I was eighteen:

Burleson in East Grand Rapids

Don't know why the Jefferson building was torn down but considering how they stressed in their ads how the Morton House was fire proof, maybe they had a fire or it was condemned as unsafe.

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On 3/27/2019 at 4:18 AM, joeDowntown said:

I was actually wondering if anyone knew the story behind the story. It’s surprising that a 12 story building met the wrecking ball. Maybe it was always a no frills building (since it was a factory), and expendable. Or it never had office tenants, so it was an easy target. As far as I can tell, it’s the biggest building to get knocked down in that era.

it was so close to the core, it just seems a little unexpected  then again, if they converted it to a parking ramp, I’m sure the elements weren’t too kind on it  

Joe

Regarding the shoe factory, Morten took it over as its parking ramp, then after that they sold it to a realty company, who used it for public parking for a while.  By the time it was torn down it had been abandoned for about 5-10 years.  The company that owned it likely had no idea what to do with it.  It probably looked as inviting as the old A&P building at that time.

Edited by RegalTDP
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12 hours ago, walker said:

There's a website dedicated to the history of the Burleson Sanitarium / Hospital:

Burleson Sanitarium on Fulton

 I doubt that the hospital was ever as big as the post card rendering at the top since their locations before and after this building were much smaller and because there is no photo showing that large a building, although there are the thumbnails that show the front of the building only. 

I think inflating the size of building must have been a “thing” back then. I remember looking at an old ad/brochure for the furniture exhibition and they took a lot liberties, increasing height and moving buildings closer together. It made GR look like a small Chicago or New York. :)

Joe

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On 3/28/2019 at 8:52 AM, walker said:

 I doubt that the hospital was ever as big as the post card rendering at the top since their locations before and after this building were much smaller and because there is no photo showing that large a building, although there are the thumbnails that show the front of the building only. 

I remember having seen an aerial photo of the city at one point (have no idea how to find it now) that was taken while the Burleson at Jefferson stood, and it was definitely a significant structure, more likely accurately depicted by the post cards. The sign on the Morton though has been confirmed not to have ever existed.

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