Grand Rapids is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 197,800. The Grand Rapids-Wyoming Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) had a population of 776,742, while the Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland Combined Statistical Area (CSA) had a population of 1,323,095 as of the 2007 census estimate. It is the county seat of Kent County, Michigan. It is the second largest city in the state and one of the principal cities in West Michigan.
Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum
Photos of the Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum
Over 2,000 years ago, people associated with the Hopewell culture occupied the Grand River Valley. Around 1700 A.D., the Ottawa Indians moved into the area and founded several villages along the Grand River.
The Grand Rapids area was first settled by Europeans near the start of the 19th century by missionaries and fur traders. They generally lived in reasonable peace alongside the Ottawa tribespeople, with whom they traded their European metal and textile goods for fur pelts. Joseph and Madeline La Framboise established the first Indian/European trading post in West Michigan, and in present Grand Rapids, on the banks of the Grand River near what is now Ada. After the death of her husband in 1806, Madeline La Framboise carried on, expanding fur trading posts to the west and north. La Framboise, whose ancestry was a mix of French and Indian, later merged her successful operations with the American Fur Company. She retired, at age 41, to Mackinac Island. The first permanent white settler in the Grand Rapids area was a Baptist minister named Isaac McCoy who arrived in 1825.
In 1826 Detroit-born Louis Campau, the official founder of Grand Rapids, built his cabin, trading post, and blackmith shop on the east bank of the Grand River near the rapids. Campau returned to Detroit, then came back a year later with his wife and $5,000 of trade goods to trade with the native tribes. In 1831 the federal survey of the Northwest Territory reached the Grand River and set the boundaries for Kent County, named after prominent New York jurist James Kent. Campau became perhaps the most important settler when, in 1831, he bought 72 acres (291,000 mē) of what is now the entire downtown business district of Grand Rapids. He purchased it from the federal government for $90 and named his tract Grand Rapids. Rival Lucius Lyon, who purchased the rest of the prime land, called his the Village of Kent. Yankee immigrants and others began immigrating from New York and New England in the 1830s.
In 1836 John Ball, representing a group of New York land speculators, bypassed Detroit for a better deal in Grand Rapids. Ball declared the Grand River valley "the promised land, or at least the most promising one for my operations."
By 1838, the settlement had incorporated itself as a village, and encompassed an area of approximately three-quarters of a mile (1 km) . The first formal census occurred in 1845, which announced a population of 1,510 and recorded an area of four square miles. The city of Grand Rapids was officially created on May 1, 1850, when the village of Grand Rapids voted to accept the proposed city charter. The population at the time was 2,686. By 1857, the city of Grand Rapids' boundary totaled 10.5 square miles (27 kmē).
Grand Rapids was also an early participant in the automobile industry, serving as home to the Austin Automobile Company from 1901 until 1921.
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Campau's Trading Post
Grand River Bridge
fishing in the Grand River
Furniture Workers strike of 1911
People and Places