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GRDadof3

"Un-Cool" to like Grand Rapids?

Uncool to like/be proud of Grand Rapids?   106 members have voted

  1. 1. Was it ever dorky to say you liked Grand Rapids?

    • Yes, it was uncool, and it still is today
      8
    • Yes, it was uncool, but the tide is shifting and Grand Rapids is becoming "cool"
      62
    • No, it was never uncool to say you liked Grand Rapids
      31
    • Grand Rapids WAS cool, now it's not
      1
    • Other
      4

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44 posts in this topic

I used to get the feeling that it was "uncool" to say you liked Grand Rapids, especially when talking with people from Detroit, Chicago or other larger cities. To me, the tide seems to be shifting. You'll have to decide what "cool" means, but I think generally people understand its definition.

Do you find this to be true?

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It's all contextual...and it's funny how it's the opposite of what I'd expect.

If I tell people in Metro Detroit that GR is a cool city, that GR metro is growing and that now is the greatest time ever to live in West Michigan, they believe me and want to come visit. This is a major change from 10 years ago when I told people I was living in West Michigan and they thought I was out in the country.

There is a significant number of people who are here because their jobs transferred them here and don't find it all that cool. I know folks from Montreal, NYC, Vancouver, Chicago and San Fran. that live here now. My Chicago friends all like GR probably because despite the size-difference they're midwesterners like the rest of us.

My friends from more cosmopolitan cities all seem to find GR a little boring. It may be undeserved (though some of them live downtown) but it's a relatively pervasive perception amongst people who come from bigger cities where the streets aren't silent at 7pm every day (which is still the case here....but changing as more residents move downtown).

I should add: I wouldn't be living here if I didn't think it was cool. Why bother? If I didn't like GR, I would have already moved the 3 hours to Chicago or the 2 hours to Ann Arbor. They're both very cool cities (of wildy different sizes).

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I don't think its "uncool" to like Grand Rapids or any other city. I think its a matter of the metro area's image itself and the city leaders' ability to market this city to the rest of the world. Grand Rapids does not compare to an alpha city like New York or even a gamma city like Huston. Its not a world class city yet. That kind of status is about fifty to a hundred years away. But GR does have the potential to being a regional powerhouse. As any harden UP member may know GR is a midsized city with a population of just under 190,000 hosting a Metropolitan Statistical Area of 1.5 million people and growing. Despite being in a region of the US where the econamy is not doing well, GR is doing a fairly good job holding its own thanks to a diversifying local economy and the city's attempt to become a regional and national Life Sciences and Hi-Tech hub. Fueled by the influx of Life Sciences and Health Care going in on what is effectionatly known as "Pill Hill", a recently built convention center, and a 12,000 seat arena that can be expanded to 16,000 seats when the time comes and many other positive things, the Downtown is becoming vibrant once again after suffering from the fight to the 'burbs back in the sixties and seventies. Further adding to the DT's come back is an influx of hip condominium and mix use development changing the look of the city's skyline. Ten years from now, if all goes well, we'll be looking at a very viberant downtown. From the lake shore and the dutch themed tourist trap that is Holland to the Fredrik Meijer Gardens in GR township, the Metro area has alot of things to do. So there's alot of things going for GR.

From my prospective, Grand Rapids is at a critical mass level to becoming a great city comparable to Nashville or Millwakee. In the next twenty years, GR might be running neck and neck with Detroit or even surpassing the Motor City when it comes to being an economic, political, and cultural influence upon the rest of the State and the region. GR has potiential which is why I'm fond of this area. All that this city and surronding metro area needs is that final nudge in the form of an agressive marketing stradagy to sell this city and what its got to the rest of the nation and the world along which some crafty leadership.

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It was like saying Dayton was cool or DeMoines was super rad. Now, when I tell people about what is going on and show them there are things to do people are impressed. A friend lives in Seattle, he saw the heath care career options and urban housing and decided to move back this way.

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I met a couple from the Long Island area looking at Grand Rapids for relocation. They kept saying how impressed they were the developments downtown and "all the cranes". I thought about you guys and the "Crane City" thread. :lol: It surprised me too.

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I never thought it was uncool. I mean, I'm from there so maybe I'm bias. I never had any problems with the Detroiters that I met... but I did have arguments with lansing kids at summer camp growing up... who inSISTED that their brown building with the clock on it is taller than the Grand Plaza (no plaza towers back then). I thought the Lansing/GR wars ended with growing up... until I came to urbanplanet!! ;)

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Whenever I talk to people about Grand Rapids that are not from that area, they always think of the historic architecture and beautiful homes around the downtown or in Heritage Hill. Historic cities always seems to bring the word "charming" to mind, which is sort of a contrast against words like cosmopolitan or "cool." When people realize the new venues, restaurants, and hangouts present in Grand Rapids, along with future ones to come, cool will be the first word to come to mind. Much of that comes with getting an established music, arts, and cultural scene. For example, in A2 there are about 4 different places where I can see a band perform at a bar all in the same night. You got a couple theaters already and possibly a new one that should make downtown GR a much larger entertainment scene.

IMO, I think GR has already reached cool status, but that's my opinion, LOL.

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From the lake shore and the dutch themed tourist trap that is Holland to the Fredrik Meijer Gardens in GR township, the Metro area has alot of things to do. So there's alot of things going for GR.

So you don't like Holland and Dutch themed tourist traps? :cry:

The only place I have heard or read negatives about Grand Rapids is on the Internet, Internet forums specifically. I've had people visit from Atlanta, Minneapolis, Washington DC, Chicago, Indianapolis and many places in between and they all raved about our area. The most negative things I have heard believe it or not is a lack of quality strip joints. I guess some sales guys will never change.

I still remember one guy from Chicago amazed at all the trees we have around here. Maybe he was being sarcastic? :unsure:

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It seems just about every city in the dubiously named "Rust Belt" is seeing a surge in civic pride, and not a moment too soon, IMO, and it seems to include every city from cities the size of Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Duluth, Minnesota to cities the size of Detroit and Chicago, and Grand Rapids is no exception. The central core is still largely intact, and it's recieving a fair amount of urban infill.

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So you don't like Holland and Dutch themed tourist traps? :cry:

Just pulling a one's chain ;) . I've been to Holland. I've been there to listen to an organ recital in the college there a couple of years ago. It's a very nice city. I wish Downtown Grand Rapids had as much street gardening as Holland does. Windmill Island is quite a unique place.

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I think GR has grown in so many ways over the last ten years. Once outsiders discover it, they don't have much of anything bad to say about Grand Rapids. I haven't met anyone from another city that didn't have good things to say about this town.

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Grand Rapids is becoming cool as the hide-bound old farts die off.

Note I did not say ALL old farts; I take pains to specify hide-bound old farts. And it's not strictly a matter of age...the types who hyperventilate at the following sights:

a billboard containing the word sex

a neighbor mowing the lawn on sunday

peace poles

strip joints (hey, I thought GR bowed down in holy adoration to Free Enterprise!)

As the hide-bound old farts

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Growing up, there definately were not as many things 'to-do' around the greater GR area. I really think one of the biggest turning points that comes to mind is VAA. I have watched/played hockey for most of my life. Having an actual TEAM in GR was huge to me. It got me and my friends downtown. Once we were 21, we were able to get into a few more places downtown :P.

To sum up, my friends and I never had anything 'to-do'. Now, there's always something 'to-do', whether it be downtown or in the metro.

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Grand Rapids is becoming cool as the hide-bound old farts die off.

Note I did not say ALL old farts; I take pains to specify hide-bound old farts. And it's not strictly a matter of age...the types who hyperventilate at the following sights:

a billboard containing the word sex

a neighbor mowing the lawn on sunday

peace poles

strip joints (hey, I thought GR bowed down in holy adoration to Free Enterprise!)

As the hide-bound old farts

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No, we certainly would not want to have an image of morality . . .heaven forbid . . . :shok:

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I agree with this...

no I really do, as Grand Rapids is loosing its "You're going to get a spankin' if you dont read your bible!" image, and is getting an entirely new image

I never really picked up a "Bible" vibe from GR even when I first moved here twenty years ago. Of course, I lived in the Bible Belt for a short time. Anyway, for the most part, I find the people in GR and West Michigan, friendly, welcoming, helpful and most of all hard working which are key attribute to building a great city. The "moral" factor in GR and the rest of the state, I think, revolves around the upkeep of strong work ethics more than anything. That's an image I'd be happy for this city to keep up along with garnering some of the hip and cool image that more cosmopolitan cities enjoy.

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Tamais,

I'm not so sure I agree with that. ALL of Michigan was once thought as hard-working and with a tough work-ethic. The "moral" factor didn't come from the fact that people thought GR was more hard-working than any other part of the state, because every major city in Michigan had tough work ethics. It really came from the fact that organized religion had a firm hold on the inner-workings of the city and region (i.e. ordinances and such), just like the fact that organized labor had a firm hold on the inner workings of places like Flint, Detroit, and Lansing. There really are some key differences in culture around the state, and sometimes (though less than ever before) they are palapable.

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Tamais,

I'm not so sure I agree with that. ALL of Michigan was once thought as hard-working and with a tough work-ethic. The "moral" factor didn't come from the fact that people thought GR was more hard-working than any other part of the state, because every major city in Michigan had tough work ethics. It really came from the fact that organized religion had a firm hold on the inner-workings of the city and region (i.e. ordinances and such), just like the fact that organized labor had a firm hold on the inner workings of places like Flint, Detroit, and Lansing. There really are some key differences in culture around the state, and sometimes (though less than ever before) they are palapable.

Now that you mentioned it I too pick up differences between West Michigan and places like Flint and Detroit. I find West Michigan leaning towards the conservative end of the spectrum. West Michigan is known to be a GOP strong hold while Detroit and that area of the state tends to lean in the opposite direction. I don't know how the east side of the state feels about West Michigan. But the differences between East and West seems to upset mainly older West Michigan die hard conservatives as they complain that "Detroit has too much influence on State Politics." If thats true, its because Detroit is by far the biggest and most powerful city and metro area in the state so it would naturally have more political muscle than Grand Rapids and any other West Michigan city. However Detroit is currently a stagnet city economically which is showing no signs of change, while the Grand Rapids Metro is enjoying growth and revitalization. If this trend continues GR and some other West Michigan cities might be able to steal some thunder from the Moter City.

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You haven't been here long enough, have you? :) And by that I mean that you don't know how touchy this issue is for most.

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I've always had Grand Rapids before it was considered "cool." I still get the "Why would you ever like Grand Rapids?" line when I tell people I'm from this city. "...Because we got money. " That's why.

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Just a play on words, nothing much. Grand Rapids... (See my signature) I'm sure if people ask where you are from and you reply Detroit and you get the reaction you really don't care for because its based on bad preception, you might reply with an off the wall answer. :dontknow: This is the reply I would give to thoes which reation I don't agree... It's off the wall. I figured it's better then spouting useless facts about my city.

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when i was in high school as a frosh. about 6 years ago, i put grand rapids as home in my planner for my address and kids were like, why do you put grand rapids if you dont live here (i lived in wyoming) but i guess there were some bad perceptions of the city then. i still tell people im from GR b/c most people don't recognize any of our burbs.

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For me, because of my urban planning nature, it has always been cool to like any real urban setting. However Grand Rapids it

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From someone who bragged about GR backwards and forwards while living in Chicago, I can attest that my passion for GR was never really understood by people I worked with, but at least they weren't demeaning like people from Detroit, who called W.Mich worse than Wisconsin.

Honestly, how can we have a real perception change if out-of-state residents think more favorably of this area than East-side Michiganders? We should probably just skip over Metro Detroit and sell our message to the people that really matter.

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