Jump to content

Grand Rapids Then and Now


Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, RegalTDP said:

I think you mean the Kortlander Building (Fulton & Commerce)!  It's hard to find good photos of that one, which is too bad.

26aa3a3d40e8e3523cea9ebf30188e40.jpg.973eabfcd4304a38ba1c917367c620e0.jpg

1231119693_9a_Kort_Co.ad-1899-l.jpg.bbd3964f31497b06a66a9a0854b1d619.jpg

 

The Kortlanders were a prominent family in GR, and different members each had their own liquor business in GR - this building was just one of them (read more about them here).  Also, one of their scions, Max Kortlander, was a famous ragtime player piano composer.  I.e, he would compose music specifically for player piano rolls.  Which was a thing back then apparently.

God that is an amazing building. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Replies 612
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

WOW!

Found a treasure trove of old pictures from what I like to call the "Second Wave". After the Arena was announced but before it was open. I'll share photos as I have time. I'm amazed at how dilapi

Slide taken from my grandpa's (Russ Molt) collection. Ionia street looking north as the "new" weather ball is being installed in the 1960's.

Posted Images

3 hours ago, RegalTDP said:

I think you mean the Kortlander Building (Fulton & Commerce)!  It's hard to find good photos of that one, which is too bad.

26aa3a3d40e8e3523cea9ebf30188e40.jpg.973eabfcd4304a38ba1c917367c620e0.jpg

1231119693_9a_Kort_Co.ad-1899-l.jpg.bbd3964f31497b06a66a9a0854b1d619.jpg

 

The Kortlanders were a prominent family in GR, and different members each had their own liquor business in GR - this building was just one of them (read more about them here).  Also, one of their scions, Max Kortlander, was a famous ragtime player piano composer.  I.e, he would compose music specifically for player piano rolls.  Which was a thing back then apparently.

Damn.  Those top two floors would have made a sweet penthouse!

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, RegalTDP said:

I think you mean the Kortlander Building (Fulton & Commerce)!  It's hard to find good photos of that one, which is too bad.

Yep! I saw the corner of the Weston apartments and Weston got stuck in my head. 
 

great pics. Thanks for sharing!

Joe

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/11/2020 at 9:27 PM, Khorasaurus1 said:

When was that building torn down? Was it occupied to the end or did it become abandoned eyesore?

Also...anyone got a picture from the nadir of Commerce Ave in the 90s?

Buried about two thirds down in the linked document below is a whole section on the Kortlander Building.  If you do a FIND on Kortlander in the document it is the ninth entry down.  The section includes an aerial photo of the building dated 1960 and it also states the building was torn down in 1960 and there were only a couple of tenants in the building around that time.  That seems about right, the neighboring Cody Hotel on Division was torn down about 1958.  They both were replaced by a city parking ramp that was built in the very early sixties.  I’d take the bus and hang-out downtown when I was in junior high beginning in the late fifties but I don’t have any specific recollection of the building or much of any building off the main drag.

stuff about Kortlander Building

As far as the nadir of Commerce Street, it’s hard to say when that would have been.  What’s now the Weston Apartments used to be the Grand Rapids Metalcraft factory and I remember it ran multiple shifts until at least the mid-seventies so the street still had plenty of business activity back then.  And there has always been other businesses, admittedly mostly low-rent outfits, along the street.  When I was a mail carrier back in the late sixties early seventies some of the older mailmen would joke about collecting postage due at the brothels along Commerce but the brothels weren’t still around back then.        

Edited by walker
for clarity
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/11/2020 at 9:27 PM, Khorasaurus1 said:

When was that building torn down? Was it occupied to the end or did it become abandoned eyesore?

Also...anyone got a picture from the nadir of Commerce Ave in the 90s?

This is a cool picture of Commerce Ave from the 70's?

Coliseum%20Billiards.jpg?s=f

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

Really cool picture!  Commerce fascinates me. It has a robust urban form and great architecture that stem from being so close to the train station when that was still the main gateway into town.  But as the center of energy shifted to "Campau Square" (now Rosa Parks Circle) and then Calder Plaza, it lost prominence. By the 80s and 90s, it wasn't even considered part of "Downtown" anymore (downtown ended at Fulton). 

After Van Andel Arena was built, it started to come back, and now it's a trendy address. But it's still overshadowed by Ionia. 

Edited by Khorasaurus1
  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Khorasaurus1 said:

Really cool picture!  Commerce fascinates me. It has a robust urban form and great architecture that stem from being so close to the train station when that was still the main gateway into town.  But as the center of energy shifted to "Campau Square" (now Rosa Parks Circle) and then Calder Plaza, it lost prominence. By the 80s and 90s, it wasn't even considered part of "Downtown" anymore (downtown ended at Fulton). 

After Van Andel Arena was built, it started to come back, and now it's a trendy address. But it's still overshadowed by Ionia. 

I did an article about Commerce Avenue back in 2010 or 2011. Got a bunch of background info on the neighborhood from a friend who works at Dwelling Place.  It's a pretty fascinating little street. 

2 hours ago, wingbert said:

What I wouldn’t give to get my hands on a neon sign that said “Snook’s Billiards”.

:P Right??

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, GRDadof3 said:

I did an article about Commerce Avenue back in 2010 or 2011. Got a bunch of background info on the neighborhood from a friend who works at Dwelling Place.  It's a pretty fascinating little street. 

https://www.rapidgrowthmedia.com/features/commerceave.aspx

Great article, GRDad :thumbsup: There's an excellent Flickr Slideshow at the end showing how far that street has come.

Edited by RegalTDP
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

My wife and I were standing just to the left in the same location when Jerry Ford ended his campaign for President. His motorcade came down Monroe, turned left and stopped on Pearl Street at the Pantlind. The crowd was all to the north on Monroe. We were in the front row behind the rope. Note what looks like  folks on the roof mid block. Two cops guarding the rope, no apparent Secret Service watching the crowd. A very different era.

When Ford visited, the the Secret Service had had sharp shooters on the building roofs. I told my wife we are never getting in a crowd like this again. One backfire  and there would be a stampede with serious injuries / deaths.

Note US 16, replaced by I-96 and M-37 went right thru downtown.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

For the life of me, I cant figure out how the old Dime Store Block fits into what Monroe Center/Monroe looks like today. Old photos show this very wide street all the way up to Fulton, but Monroe Center is obviously today very narrow for auto traffic. Are the sidewalks today wider or something?

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, GR_Urbanist said:

For the life of me, I cant figure out how the old Dime Store Block fits into what Monroe Center/Monroe looks like today. Old photos show this very wide street all the way up to Fulton, but Monroe Center is obviously today very narrow for auto traffic. Are the sidewalks today wider or something?

 

 

Yes. The street trees also provide an excellent way of making the street feel narrower than it really is.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, GR_Urbanist said:

For the life of me, I cant figure out how the old Dime Store Block fits into what Monroe Center/Monroe looks like today. Old photos show this very wide street all the way up to Fulton, but Monroe Center is obviously today very narrow for auto traffic. Are the sidewalks today wider or something?

 

 

I had the same problem you did. There is a discussion on r/grandrapids about that photo as well.  At that time, Monroe did not go all the way through to Fulton and instead turned up Monroe Center (which was a much wider street).   Here's a picture of that intersection (from that reddit discussion).

old lower monroe.png

Link to post
Share on other sites

I wasn’t living here when it happened but in the late seventies the dime stores were torn down and Monroe was extended to what was then still called Market Street and that block or so of street north of Fulton Street where they met was renamed Monroe.  And what had been called upper Monroe became Monroe Center.  So, the building in recent history called 50 Monroe where the AC hotel is now along with the BOB had both formerly had Market Street addresses.  Market Street itself had dead-ended into upper Monroe approximately where the walk is between Rosa Parks Circle and the GRAM.  If you look at Google satellite view you can kind of see the old Market Street route into upper Monroe.  

I went to that Kennedy rally along with the much bigger Nixon rally a week or two later at the same spot.  I’m surprised there’s not any similar crowd photos of the Nixon rally.  Back then a presidential candidate coming to town was a big thing.  I think Kennedy and maybe Nixon too came by private train.  Maybe it is because I’m older or just more cynical now but now they fly in and stop by so often it is just an annoyance with the traffic disruptions and all.  If we had permission from our parents, we were excused from school in the afternoon to go to the rallies.  And I took advantage of that and took the bus downtown both times.  Don’t remember how I found the buses to go back home since the main bus stops were all along upper Monroe and that was obviously blocked off.   
 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Back in the 1830s, Louis Campau platted the streets south of Pearl, and Lucious Lyons platted north of Pearl.  Their rivalry created that mess of where Pearl & Monroe were supposed to meet.  MLive had a great historical article about it a few years ago: https://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/2012/12/feud_between_grand_rapids_foun.html

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.