Do you drive the U.S. 131 often near Ann St.? Do you remember exiting on the North Park St. exit? If you do you have been driving around Grand Rapids a long time.

Exit on North Park Street in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids City Archives
Grand Rapids City Archives

I travel to and from work on U.S. 131 and remember the Ann St. exit and the Leonard St. exit, and I get off at the Pearl St. exit. The one sign I never experienced was the one for N. Park St. One main reason was, that I didn't live on this side of the state and was born yet when it existed.

For those who drove when gas was cheap and cars were fast, you were very aware of the N. Park St. exit. For the rest of us, it is all folklore.

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According to Tom Carter, who posted on the West Michigan History: Then & Now Facebook page, N. Park St. was a temporary exit. It was used as a temporary exit and entrance to the southbound U.S. 131. There was no ramp, the lane ended with you being able to hop back on the freeway south.

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The N. Park St. exit was around in the early 60s. This was at a time when people liked to race their muscle cars on local streets for bragging rights and sometimes a little extra money.  For those in West Michigan who liked street racing, this section of the road provided nearly a half mile of two perfectly straight lanes. This was the option to race down Market Street and less crowded. Those who knew the street would also comment on all the black strips from burnouts where the cars lined up to race.

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