A Look Back at Yesterday’s Grand Rapids and How it’s Changed
Downtown Grand Rapids has been evolving for more than the past 50 years. But most currently, let's say the past 26-years since the VanAndel Arena was built, that's when Downtown Grand Rapids really amped it up!
How about the above change? What was, and where was, that building?
The Kortlander Building
The tall building was called the Kortlander Building, they distributed alcohol. The one to the left was the Maris Building, home to a dance studio and hobby shop among other things.
The buildings were torn down to put up a multilevel parking lot in the mid-sixties. Remember when it was connected to City Center?
Anyway, it's Herpolsheimer's on the right. And, through evolution, so to speak, the building on the right is now the Grand Rapids Police Department.
And the building in the center? They tore down the parking lot to build the UIA and an apartment building.
My friend Ed Kettle said he interviewed Dick Gillette, then Chairman of Old Kent Bank, and asked him about urban renewal. He said:
"When everyone came back from WWII they watched as allies funded the rebuilding of Europe and Japan with brand new state of the art buildings." He said, they were looking out their windows at our old somewhat crumbling downtown and thought bs. We need to lead our way into the future. That’s when business and government leaders throughout the US came up with the Urban Renewal plan."
And, downtown Grand Rapids and all of West Michigan keeps growing. Growing to more than 1.2 million people in the metro area. I can't wait to see what's next!
UP NEXT: Michigan's 'Polehenge' Before and After It Was Torn Down