Drew Day

Grand Rapids before Urban Renewal

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I discovered an old brochure of grand rapids from the 1890's in my friends basement.

It shows many of grand rapids lost landmarks that were razed during urban renewal.

Any info about these buildings would be interesting.

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Ms Bissells mansion was torn down to build woodtv8 studios near college and cherry.

The train shed i believe would have sat just south of van andel arena.

The Michigan Trust building survives to this day.

The wonderly building was bulldozed for the mccay tower on monroe and pearl.

Anyone know what happened to the others.

The architecture of the widdicomb building is really gothic looking.

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These pictures are depressing. Curse you, United Stated Federal Government and eveything you have done since 1930 to completely ruin American industry and the American city.

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These pictures are depressing. Curse you, United Stated Federal Government and eveything you have done since 1930 to completely ruin American industry and the American city.

I never could understand why cities ike grand rapids and detroit also.. would want to destroy such important architecture...

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If you read the literature of the time, it was because most of the buildings above didn't look nearly as beautiful and pristine as they do in those photographs and drawings. They were dirty, deteriorating, out of fashion in a society that preferred all things modern. With the wealthy moving outward the businesses were more and more occupied by "less classy" establishments or just went vacant altogether. Apparently the almost every building in the Civic Center urban renewal district was empty above the first floor by the 1950s (you can see as much in the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps).

You will also see that people didn't hate this architecture; many saw its significance and lamented its destruction, but thought it was necessary to build new in order to keep downtown from becoming urban blight. The most successful model of development at the time was the suburbs, and so the new civic center emulated a suburban office park.

This definitely wasn't just a Michigan phenomenon; it happened all over the country in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Urban renewal was federally sponsored and heavily promoted.

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If I understand this correctly, the Gilbert Building was incorporated into Herpolsheimers and is now part of the Police Station?

Source: http://books.google....id=EeabiZEtQ8cC

It is definitely now part of the police station (the part with the big arched window wall). I believe it actually still had part of its original facade (above the second floor facing Monroe Center) prior to the police station renovation.

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Would be cool to go back in time and see what would all be the same as well as diff

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7592363484_11082826de_z.jpg

The Wonderly Mansion on the corner of Cherry near Paris Now an abortion clinic.

Mr Wonderly owned Kent Furniture Co.

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Not Sure Where this was located? Anyone know?

Wonderly also Owned This Building

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This was on the Corner of Monroe Mall and Pearl Where the McCay Tower Stands.

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Canal St (Monroe) Facing North. All Most Completely Razed .

From what I've read this became a seedy area with all men theaters that showed dirty movies.

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7592358510_81ae1b8329_z.jpg

The Grand Rapids / Indiana Railroad train shed on the corner of Ionia and Oakes. Now a parking lot.

Interestingly the train shed was disassembled and moved to 54th and Clay street and used by a lumber company.

Until it burned down in 2004 under mysterious cirspritestances.

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courtesy http://godwin.bobann...and_before.html

Edited by Drew Day

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7605810778_c873cdd951_z.jpg

Not Sure Where this was located? Anyone know?

Found an archived catalog from Kent Furniture Manufacturing floating around the web here.

The address is listed as 677-695 North Front Street. Makes sense, since the picture shows the river behind the factory. But I don't know if they used the same address numbering system in 1881.

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Canal St (Monroe) Facing North. All Most Completely Razed .

From what I've read this became a seedy area with all men theaters that showed dirty movies.

Well yeah, that was where George C. Scott had one of his all-time best performances!

Edited by RegalTDP

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Found an archived catalog from Kent Furniture Manufacturing floating around the web here.

The address is listed as 677-695 North Front Street. Makes sense, since the picture shows the river behind the factory. But I don't know if they used the same address numbering system in 1881.

Thanks for the info! I was thinking that might be lookout hill in the background.

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