Coupons Car Rentals Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Grand Rapids Attractions and Things to See
Grand Rapids sits on the
Grand River, some 40 miles east of Lake Michigan, nicknamed the
"Furniture City" because it is home to five of the world's
biggest office furniture makers, as well as automotive, health
care, consumer goods and aviation industries, along with other
ventures. Around the time that Christ was walking the roads of
Israel, the Hopewell culture peoples occupied this territory and
the Grand River valley, with the Ottawa Indian tribes arriving
in the 18th century and founded numerous villages along the
river, and would initially be settled by Europeans in the
beginning of the 19th century, by fur traders and missionaries,
living in peace with the Ottawa, trading their goods and
supplies with the Indians for fur pelts.
In the early 19th century, gypsum would be mined, to be used for the manufacture of wall coverings and stucco, with alabastine, that was favored by the Arts and Crafts Movement architects, and the Alabastine Mine would be opened in 1907 by Wyoming, Michigan. In the second half of the 19th century, the city would become a significant lumber center, and the premier furniture manufacturing city of the nation, and become a worldwide leader in the production of fine furniture. The first improved road would be constructed in 1855, although it was a private, toll plank road from Kalamazoo to Wayland, it would become a main route for freight and passengers until 1868, that would link the outside world through the Michigan Central Railroad at Kalamazoo, and the first railroad to come here would be the Detroit and Milwaukee Railroad that began service in 1858, and then in 1869, the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway would open and link the city to even more locations. In 1867, the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad would start freight and passenger service to Cedar Springs, Michigan and then to Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1870. The city was the first regularly scheduled passenger airlines in the country, with Stout Air Services starting flights to Detroit in 1926.
The city would continue to grow its cultural scene in 1969, with the installation of Alexander Calder's abstract sculpture, La Grande Vitesse that translates from French into the great swiftness or grand rapids, and put in the Vandenberg Plaza, which was the rejuvenated city hall building, and become the first federally funded work of public art in the nation, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. That would start the yearly Festival of the Arts, and other outstanding celebrations include the Celebration on the Grand, just after Labor Day, that features free concerts, food booths and fireworks, that celebrates life in the Grand River valley, and in October, the Pulaski Days celebrate their Polish heritage. In 1973, the city hosted the Sculpture of the Pedestal that was an outdoor exhibition of public sculpture, bringing 13 of the world's foremost artists that included, John Mason, Robert Morris, Stephen Antonakos, Mark di Suvero, Kenneth Snelson and John Henry in a single citywide celebration. In 2004, the grand premier of The Polar Express would be held in Grand Rapids, since its author, Chris Van Allsburg lives there, with the local Meijer Gardens creating a Polar Express display that has become part of their Christmas Around the World display.
Grand Rapids is home to the Gerald R. Ford Museum, as well as Belknap Hill and John Ball park, with outstanding featured structures the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, the DeVos Place Convention Center and the Van Andel Arena, along with the Urban Institute for the Contemporary Arts is also downtown with an urban clay studio, a movie theater and art displays. The Van Andel Museum Center, that had been founded in 1854, and is the oldest history museum in the nation includes the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium, the City Archives and Records Center and the Voight House Victorian Museum. The City Archives and Records Center would showcase many fabulous exhibitions that included the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Quest for Immortality: the Treasures of Ancient Egypt.
The city has many excellent entertainment and performing arts venues, as well as numerous sports teams to fill your spare time, should you have any, and great restaurants that are sure to satisfy your palate and tastes. One such excellent reason is the fact that one of the United States top culinary schools is located here, that is a great influence to many of the city's finest dining establishments that offer classic American and ethnic dishes, with over 328 restaurants living here.