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6th Gen local

Grand Rapids Then and Now Version 2.0

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I have a bunch of old Grand Rapids press clippings from what I think is a late 1980's to early 1990's special edition in the Grand Rapids press that I would like to share with all of you. There are 100's of old pictures from that edition. Mixed in with that are a few articles and pictures from that same time period. The quality of the pictures varies quite a bit so I will do my best to enhance them if possible.

I'll add to the thread as time permits over the next few weeks and months.

Here is the first taste to get things started.

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I saw that too Greedo, right in that grassy park that is there now. I have also seen an early rendering of Plaza Towers that features 3 or 4 story condominiums right along the riverfront that obviously were dropped from the plans :(

Excellent collection freezout! The only clipping that I can find buildings still around today is the Fulton/Sheldon one. Assuming this is facing West, you can see the Monument Building that houses the Children's Museum on the right, Veterans Park, and the 10 story parking garage that is gone now in the background. I think the white building on the left is the building that houses that pharmacy and the West Michigan Center for Arts & Technology, near Brian Books.

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Thanks for your comments Greedo and GRDadof3.

Here's the last batch for a bit.

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The original Blodget Hospital buildings. I think both of these are still standing.

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Up to this point, I have posted 10% - 20% of what I have available.

Lots more to come.

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Very interesting. I especially like the old construction photos. Thank you Freezeout, I look foward to more!

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Oh the horror! (Did somebody drop the ball? :huh: )

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Very interesting. I especially like the old construction photos. Thank you Freezeout, I look foward to more!

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Oh the horror! (Did somebody drop the ball? :huh: )

I noticed those people too. Their posture reminds me of old pictures of the Civil Rights era, of people who went to witness the trial of some white men who killed a black person. Many people in the audience didn't want record that they were there, so when the press took the picture, they all covered their faces. Maybe some people watching the baseball game were skipping out on work???

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I saw that too Greedo, right in that grassy park that is there now. I have also seen an early rendering of Plaza Towers that features 3 or 4 story condominiums right along the riverfront that obviously were dropped from the plans :(

Excellent collection freezout! The only clipping that I can find buildings still around today is the Fulton/Sheldon one. Assuming this is facing West, you can see the Monument Building that houses the Children's Museum on the right, Veterans Park, and the 10 story parking garage that is gone now in the background. I think the white building on the left is the building that houses that pharmacy and the West Michigan Center for Arts & Technology, near Brian Books.

File1090e.jpg

Sorry, GR Dad. You are facing west, but the buildings you identify are not right. The building you call the "Monument Building" is at the present site of the GRPD headquarters, the former Herpelsheimer's Department Store (built in 1949). The white building on the left is the former GR Herald building, which was demolished in the 1960s. There was no 10-story parking garage; that was about a 5-story garage, built in 1962. (I know, because I worked out of it one summer as a temporary city employee.) It is gone, however. The park in question is the triangle at the corner of Monroe and Division, which once (and maybe still does) house the Civil War monument, which was dedicated in 1885 at the annual meeting of the Society of the Army of the Cumberland. Phil Sheridan was an attendee. He has a GR connection as the former colonel of the 21st Michigan Vol. Inf., which had a significant Kent County component.

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These are fantastic freezout! I remember this was GR when I moved here about 10 years ago, with no Van Andel Arena:

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Boy, it's hard to believe that people so abhored old architecture that this look was preferred in the 1960's. Apparently they tried everything to combat suburban flight back then (but made downtown look even worse):

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Anyone remeber the train in Herpelsheimer's Department Store? Man, I would ride that all day long as a kid. :)

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Dave:

You're right. I was one street too far to the East. However, aren't these two buildings the same:

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If so, I think I read or heard this was a 10 story parking garage at one time :dontknow:

post-2672-1142906636_thumb.jpg

post-2672-1142906663_thumb.jpg

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Dave:

You're right. I was one street too far to the East. However, aren't these two buildings the same:

post-2672-1142906636_thumb.jpg

post-2672-1142906663_thumb.jpg

If so, I think I read or heard this was a 10 story parking garage at one time :dontknow:

You know, regarding the parking garage, you may be right. I thought you were referring to the city ramp that used to be at the corner of Division and Fulton.

And yes, Rizzo, I remember the train in the basement of Herpelsheimer's. Very fondly. It was sort of a monorail thing, hanging from the ceiling.

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Anyone remeber the train in Herpelsheimer's Department Store? Man, I would ride that all day long as a kid. :)

I remember it when it was the City Center--a giant pink death trap. They'd lock you in, you'd your the food court, pass through a wall into the sixth dimension, or something, and then appear where you started. I remember begging my mom when we would go shopping at Lazarus and then finally getting on the thing and thinking, "I... am... going... to die!"

Rumor has it, someone bought that thing. I've heard Peter Secchia's name thrown around. I can't imagine why anyone would want it.

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I remember begging my mom when we would go shopping at Lazarus and then finally getting on the thing and thinking, "I... am... going... to die!"

:rofl: I was never around to ride it, but oh how I have similar memories as a kid. Knapp's Department store in Lansing used to have a giant talking Christmas tree that we'd BEG to go see, and then it would give me nightmares :unsure:

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The picture of the McKay Tower with only its original 4 floors is interesting. Not for the building itself, but the other building on the corder with the "Chop Suey" sign. It reminds me of one of my favorite paintings by Edward Hopper appropriated titled Chop Suey. You don't suppose that sign is where he got his inspiration, do you? Signs like that probably existing in many places, but I still find it curious.

-nb

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That second picture GR Dad posted(the black and white one with the circled building taken from the center of town looking north up the river) really illustrates the disjointed seperation of one of the city's most vital residential neighborhoods from the CBD.

The other day my Michigan History teacher also filled me in on the 'we don't talk about that' story of the McKay tower namesake. Very interesting.

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The other day my Michigan History teacher also filled me in on the 'we don't talk about that' story of the McKay tower namesake. Very interesting.

I don't quite follow you here.

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I don't quite follow you here.

Sorry, that second part really didn't have much to do with the first.

McKay tower was named after Frank McKay a Republican political boss from the 30's. During this time the Republicans had total control of the state and even had strong support in Detroit. In turn they were constantly picking on an already weak Democratic party for being corrupt. Though this may be true the Republicans were not exactly poster childs for moral politics either.

In an attempt to make a name for himself while making a run for governor, a politican by the name of Kim Sigler (who firmly belived he would be eventually U.S. president) was able to get a representative named Hooper from Albion to admit to having taken bribes from McKay.

Well one day while on his way back home to Albion I believe representative Hooper disappears. He was eventually found murdered by what was to be found out, two jailed members of the Purple Gang. Michigan police investigations showed McKay's connection to the murder and his giving of a 'day pass' out of state prison to the two gang members in order to do this job.

Charges were never brought against McKay because he had done some political digging of his own and found all sorts of dirt on Sigler prompting Sigler to bury all evidence of McKay and the Hooper killing.

I hope I haven't broken any rules of decorum telling this story and I apologize that that the story is not more thorough. It was written off of the scribbled notes I took on this side story our Prof had told us. He informed us that the writers of our Michigan History textbook, two professors from U of M and MSU (Rubenstein and Ziewacz) respectively, had accidentally stumbled across the case file while studying Michigan State Police case files.

I just thought it was interesting.

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Sorry, that second part really didn't have much to do with the first.

McKay tower was named after Frank McKay a Republican political boss from the 30's. During this time the Republicans had total control of the state and even had strong support in Detroit. In turn they were constantly picking on an already weak Democratic party for being corrupt. Though this may be true the Republicans were not exactly poster childs for moral politics either.

In an attempt to make a name for himself while making a run for governor, a politican by the name of Kim Sigler (who firmly belived he would be eventually U.S. president) was able to get a representative named Hooper from Albion to admit to having taken bribes from McKay.

Well one day while on his way back home to Albion I believe representative Hooper disappears. He was eventually found murdered by what was to be found out, two jailed members of the Purple Gang. Michigan police investigations showed McKay's connection to the murder and his giving of a 'day pass' out of state prison to the two gang members in order to do this job.

Charges were never brought against McKay because he had done some political digging of his own and found all sorts of dirt on Sigler prompting Sigler to bury all evidence of McKay and the Hooper killing.

I hope I haven't broken any rules of decorum telling this story and I apologize that that the story is not more thorough. It was written off of the scribbled notes I took on this side story our Prof had told us. He informed us that the writers of our Michigan History textbook, two professors from U of M and MSU (Rubenstein and Ziewacz) respectively, had accidentally stumbled across the case file while studying Michigan State Police case files.

I just thought it was interesting.

It is a very interesting story. Actually, Hooper was a state senator from Adrian, and he didn't disappear -- he was found dead in his car of gunshot wounds in January 1945. Professors Rubenstein and Ziewacz wrote a book about it (Three Bullets Sealed His Lips) which is available.

Ironically, Boss McKay had very little time left as a power broker. By 1948, the labor/Democratic coaliation brought Soapy Williams to the governorship. Also, reform movements in Kent County brought a new mayor (Paul Goebbels) and also a new congressman (Gerald Ford). A fascinating story, and one that really could use more historical analysis. Thanks for your mentioning the Hooper murder.

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