About Grand Rapids
As the second-largest city in the state, Grand Rapids, Michigan, takes its name in part from the Grand River. This waterway is fed from Lake Superior and is an important means of transporting goods both to and from the city.
Grand Rapids earns its nickname, “Furniture City,” because of its long-held reputation as one of the leading centers in the United States for office furniture. There is a long history of manufacturing in the city, and Grand Rapids has left its mark in the mining, timber, and aviation-production industries.
Grand Rapids is located on the western side of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The city is about 70 miles northwest of Lansing and 50 miles north of Kalamazoo, Michigan. The city falls in the Eastern Standard Time zone and is 45 square-miles in area. On average, Grand Rapids' hottest month is July, its coldest month is January, and its wettest month is May.
The city is located in Kent County where it is the county seat. Grand Rapids is the national headquarters for several well-known companies including Bissel Inc., Carhartt, Domino’s Pizza, the Meijer hypermarket chain and the academic journal archive JSTOR. In recent years, Grand Rapids has actively sought a foothold in attracting health-science firms to its economy. At present, Michigan State University has opened a new medical school in the city. Grand Rapids is also the base of operations for the Van Andel Research Institute cancer center and the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, an educational facility for those training to enter the Health Sciences field as a primary vocation.
Grand Rapids has a thriving arts scene and can tout the Grand Rapids Ballet Company, the Grand Rapids Symphony, the Opera Grand Rapids, and the Great Lakes Chorus of Barbershop Singers as part of its entertainment and cultural offerings. Grand Rapidians have a fierce sense of pride in their city. In a January 2011, Newsweek magazine named Grand Rapids as the 10th-worst city in the country with the bleakest future on its “Dying Cities” list. Residents railed against the label and began a grassroots effort to have the city removed from the list. They were successful.
On a happier note, Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been listed as the third-best city in the nation for recreation. There are several golf courses around the city. The Pilgrim’s Run Golf Club is a U.S. Open qualifier course, and it was given a 4.5 out of 5 star-rating by Golf Digest in 2006. Nearby Lake Michigan has been cited by Condé Nast Traveler as one of the top 25 best shorelines in the world. Michigan is also home to more lighthouses than any other state.
Accommodations in the city are plentiful. Plan your lodging near whatever attractions interest you most, as Grand Rapids is split upinto areas of shopping, art and cultural attractions, and nightlife.
Written by Michael Paul Maupin