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LA Dave

Lost Grand Rapids

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There are a series of wonderful books entitled "Lost ... Chicago, New York, Boston, etc." that contain pictures and descriptions of buildings, parks, other aspects of urban life in those cities that has disappeared or been transformed into something else.

If you were writing the book "Lost Grand Rapids," what buildings, etc. would you list? Here are my candidates:

1. The 1888 City Hall

2. Union Station (with its great train shed)

3. The Octogon House on Belknap Hill

4. The downtown department stores

5. The old public musuem on Jefferson

6. The old Kent County Airport terminal on South Madison

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All the building that were taken out for the freeway.

Fox Brewery

the Armory

Dimestore block

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There is a series of books called the "Images of America" series. People can write a book, more like put together pictures with captions, on pretty much anything in the US. There is a very good edition for lansing that I have learned A LOT from with the pictures of long gone buildings and such. You may want to check if GR has one out. Check your local bookstore, the kind that may sell new & used and rare books.

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There are a series of wonderful books entitled "Lost ... Chicago, New York, Boston, etc." that contain pictures and descriptions of buildings, parks, other aspects of urban life in those cities that has disappeared or been transformed into something else.

If you were writing the book "Lost Grand Rapids," what buildings, etc. would you list? Here are my candidates:

1. The 1888 City Hall

2. Union Station (with its great train shed)

3. The Octogon House on Belknap Hill

4. The downtown department stores

5. The old public musuem on Jefferson

6. The old Kent County Airport terminal on South Madison

Any photos of the available?

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I would add Grand Rapids Brewing Company

gr-brewing-postcard.jpg

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I would add the entire Turner Street area neighborhood which was obliterated to make way for 131. I makes be sick to see how houses, stores, public buildings, etc were leveled unceremoniously when they highway went through.

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Anyone have any old back and white photos of these places? I am thinking pre- WWII. (I need artwork to hang on the walls)

I found a bunch here, but they want more than $20 per photo...

http://www.grpl.org/photocoll?cat=buildings#mid

I love the look of old city hall.

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I would add the entire Turner Street area neighborhood which was obliterated to make way for 131. I makes be sick to see how houses, stores, public buildings, etc were leveled unceremoniously when they highway went through.

I believe the priest at St.s Peter & Paul has quite the collection of photos of that area and is a local expert. Dennis Morrow is his name if I recall correctly. St. Petes is right near the area in question. (Block surrounded by Hamiltion, Quarry, Webster, and Myrtle).

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All the building that were taken out for the freeway.

Fox Brewery

the Armory

Dimestore block

Ah, the Armory - Friday night dances and fill-ups at Betty Trill's Texaco. Were the rumors true about what went on upstairs at Betty's?

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The recently demolished Israel's building?

I haven't been around long enough to really know anymore than whats already been said.

They have a lot of these types of books for various cities. Even though they are 'pop history,' they are still pretty fascinating. I have one which features pictures of Grand Rapids on postcards prior to 1950.

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Anyone have any old back and white photos of these places? I am thinking pre- WWII. (I need artwork to hang on the walls)

I found a bunch here, but they want more than $20 per photo...

http://www.grpl.org/photocoll?cat=buildings#mid

I love the look of old city hall.

I think the Downtown library has loads of great BW pics of the city and old houses that have since been demolished.

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Many of the demolished buildings (and maybe all of them -- not sure about the Reptile Club) are pictured in the GRPL archives.

I remember the Armory, vaguely. My Dad's reserve unit met at the armory at Michigan and Fuller, so it wasn't a building that we had any family connection to. (Also, I think it was National Guard, not Army Reserve).

A couple more for the list:

1. The Holly House Restaurant on Jefferson (and the treasure box for kids).

2. The great downtown theaters (the Keith, the Midtown, the Savoy).

3. The old G.R. Press building on Sheldon, with windows to the press room open so that you could smell the ink and the paper.

4. The near West Side when it was a living community, not a remnant ripped from the city's heart by US-131.

5. The crossing of I-96 over the Thornapple River, the only pretty stretch of the freeway between Detroit and GR, before the M-6 desecration.

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I'd add the American Laundry Building to the list.

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It would have been great if they could have re-directed 131 in order to keep the old Union Staion. You know... maybe make it straight or add a GRADUAL curve. I've always heard about the old Union Staion, but that picture on the GR Public Library site is the first one I've seen. There are a lot of really awesome buildings still in GR, and I REALLY hope they don't follow the same fate. Namely the Art Museum. Seriously... I don't think there is a more beautiful building in downtown (indisde and out). It'd be a BIG shame if they tore that down after re-locating. Who said they need to re-locate anyway?

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It would have been great if they could have re-directed 131 in order to keep the old Union Staion. You know... maybe make it straight or add a GRADUAL curve. I've always heard about the old Union Staion, but that picture on the GR Public Library site is the first one I've seen. There are a lot of really awesome buildings still in GR, and I REALLY hope they don't follow the same fate. Namely the Art Museum. Seriously... I don't think there is a more beautiful building in downtown (indisde and out). It'd be a BIG shame if they tore that down after re-locating. Who said they need to re-locate anyway?

Actually, old buildings like that are not very condusive to displaying art work. You have to create a lot of false walls, so a lot of space is wasted. Hopefully Kendall College ends up taking it over as part of their Master Plan.

I also don't think Union Station was torn down for 131. Maybe someone else can verify, but I think Union Station used to be where Tall House on Ionia is going.

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Actually, old buildings like that are not very condusive to displaying art work. You have to create a lot of false walls, so a lot of space is wasted. Hopefully Kendall College ends up taking it over as part of their Master Plan.

I also don't think Union Station was torn down for 131. Maybe someone else can verify, but I think Union Station used to be where Tall House on Ionia is going.

The 1873 map shows the old GR&I station west of Prairie (Ionia) and in between Island (Weston) and Oakes.

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The 1873 map shows the old GR&I station west of Prairie (Ionia) and in between Island (Weston) and Oakes.

The 1900 Union Station was built in the same location. I think that a US 131 off ramp went where the station was, but in 1960, there was no interest in GR of saving old buildings.

The S-curve was built, I am told, to make the route across the river as short as possible, since it was more expensive to build a large bridge than a short one.

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Ramona Park would be on my list

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The 1900 Union Station was built in the same location. I think that a US 131 off ramp went where the station was, but in 1960, there was no interest in GR of saving old buildings.

The S-curve was built, I am told, to make the route across the river as short as possible, since it was more expensive to build a large bridge than a short one.

The ramp actually ran where the railroad tracks used to be. There used to be a small two or three story tower like building on the east side of the ramp access road where it connected to Fulton. There was hotdog joint in the place at one point called WDOG, if I remember correctly. Anyway, the ramp access road (and I think it was an on-ramp) is right about where the sidewalk for the east side of the arena is now.

Now a history prof at GRJC explaining Rousseauian thought explained the S-curve to me this way:

First US-131 was built because the people that used to lived around the Heartside district moved to the suburbs. Driving down Division they became distraught as they watched the "old neighborhood" start to deteriorate. Being the concerned and philanthrapic group of people they were, they decided that spending money on a freeway so they could avoid driving down Division.

This caused a problem. Freeways aren't meant to stop dead it their tracks when the reach a city. They need to continue on to somewhere else. This caused a problem because the freeway was aiming directly at the Old Kent and Michigan National bank buildings at the time. The easiest thing to do would be to jog the freeway east, but that would put you in East Grand Rapids and they liked keeping their lawns green. They were fighting money with either options, and you can't fight money.

So...

That left the west side of the river, which just happened to contain a demographic that was just as bad off as the one in the Heartside district. Hence, the S-curve over the river...

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The S-curve was built, I am told, to make the route across the river as short as possible, since it was more expensive to build a large bridge than a short one.

I had heard that US131 wasn't straight around the S-Curve area because there was a large factory or warehouse (I believe it had something to do with JCPenny) that didn't want to sell or move. This came about around the time a few years ago when the State rebuilt the bridges over the Grand River and people had asked if they were going to straighten it out.

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It was the A&P warehouse (the ugly one with the cell towers) from what I've heard and it was more of a politic favor than anything.

Joe

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Ramona Park would be on my list

EGR library had some great pictures of it in its heyday. Someone told me they even had a brothel there. Anyone else heard about that and know whether was true?

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EGR library had some great pictures of it in its heyday. Someone told me they even had a brothel there. Anyone else heard about that and know whether was true?

I don't know about that. You may be thinking of the other area on the lake, Manhattan Beach.

I am related to the Poisson family that ran the steamboats on Reeds Lake and from every bit of family lore I've ever heard it was an ok place. My grandfather rememberd Manhattan Beach as being a bit seedier.

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