For millennia, people have gathered at the rapids of the Grand River, the place where downtown Grand Rapids now stands. From its earliest recorded history in the 1820s as a tiny frontier trading post, through many booming decades as the “Furniture City,” to its newest reinvention as a center of public art, Grand Rapids has a fascinating history. By 1850, when the city was incorporated, several early industries, including logging, milling, and brewing, were already established, and the groundwork for the incredibly lucrative furniture industry was in place. As more people came to Grand Rapids from all over the world, they developed institutions and settled the city’s distinctive neighborhoods, each reflecting their nationalities, religions, and aspirations for the future. Throughout its history, from Campau to Calder, Grand Rapids has remained a place for pioneers.
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